After a great morning, and then again evening with I and I from Freespirit, I plotted a route on my new favorite android Tab app. ViewRanger GPS. It is a mapping app that is free from Google's 'Play Store' and lets you use the freebee online (open source I think) maps and download them for off line viewing. It also lets you purchase credits for downloading OS maps at either 1:50k or 1:25k exactly the same as the paper maps. I bought £5.99's worth of credit and have bought all the map tiles that we have needed on our last couple months cruises from Crick to the edge of Birmingham in 1:50k and a few extra 'tiles' in 1:25k. I've still got about half of the credits left so it has worked out great value. As well as easily being able to track our cruise route (just hit the button and the map will follow you) you can fairly easily plan a route and follow it. Both routes and tracks are easily shared between your online ViewRanger account and all of your android devices (also available for idevices) After a cruise it takes moments to upload to my account and my FaceBook page/wall (whatever it is) so people in my freinds list can see exactly where we are.
The route I had planned after Ian and Irene's visit was a circular one up into Cannock Chase and back through the Shugborough estate.
|Google Nexus screen shot|
This is a screen shot from my Google Nexus of the route. Even at the lower detail of 1:50k maps it was pretty easy to find the correct path. As you walk the map orients pointing upwards so it is easy to make decisions for turning left and right.
We started of just after 8.00 (LJT), well before the sun had fully risen. It was far from mild but not cold enough to wear my wooly hat that soon found it's place in Deb's back pack. Unsurprisingly there was nobody around.
|Plane past moon, at Dawn|
We traced our previous days cruise back along the canal for a couple of K before taking a minor road (major short-cut!) under the railway and over the river Trent. Still plenty of flow in the Trent and a cool sun brightening the morning.
|Flood Plane betwixt the railway and river|
|Morning breaking over the countryside|
|A pretty cobbled bridge over the Trent|
The bridge is like the Essex foot bridge just a couple of K up stream only wider. Note the useful pedestrian hidey holes. Early morning white van man was amused by his sentries either side of the bridge. The main road after the bridge was getting busier now as we crossed and headed up onto the chase for our walk through William the Conquerors hunting ground - I guess the french were good at the odd thing. A few hundred metres up the hill we came to a car park with a couple of occupants, dog walkers going on pre-work walkies. The valley path that we needed was insignificant compared to all the other paths around. Although it was single track through rust coloured bracken we decided to give the mapping app the benefit of the doubt and keep to the path closest to the big red arrow we were following. 1:25k would have shown much more detail but the maps 'cost' a lot more credits. 1:50k misses things like field borders. If I was staying put in an area for a good long while I would download the tiles in 1:25k as well. Incidentally once you download a new map tile to the app, an option lets you stitch it to the adjoining tiles. If you are tracking rather than following a route and you stray off the edge of the tiles that you have bought the track will still be there but just on a white background ready for downloading the next tile.
|The early morning light played beautifully through the woods|
|Unfortunately it meant a bit of waiting for Deb whilst I twiddled with me dial and fiddled with me... settings|
There was plenty of variety in the woodland which was well managed with lots of wider bridleways that, no doubt, are very popular with the mountain bikers. With about 70km2 there should be enough room for everyone.
|Cross roads about 1/3 the way into our walk|
Turning onto an eastward valley we lost the sun for a while and passed a shaded area which brought us to our first frost of the year.
|OK it wasn't a heavy frost...|
|... but a frost none the less|
A tricky one to spot but just to the left of centre in the next pic was a magnificent stag
|Pretty well dead centre of the frame.|
A beautiful picnic area just below was set next to a fjord with stepping stones, and another item that shall form part of a future post entitled Rant.
|Hardly a breath of wind|
Leaving the beautiful countryside of the chase we had a stretch of about 750m along a busy road before we entered the park land of Shugborough hall.
|One of the seven monuments to be found in Shugborough's grounds|
|Shugborough Hall - closed until spring|
|The smaller, but very similarly designed Essex bridge returning us back across the Trent|
|And another opportunity for a sit down|
|Before getting back on to the canal and wishing Ian and Irene a bon voyage|
Altogether a rather pleasant 10ish km walk and back to the boat to light the fire by 11.30, now what's for lunch? (9.30 GMT)