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Been there, done that

By David Howard

My Geograph career has gone from locating and adding five year's worth of archives to myriad and distance collections. Last year was myriads 4-6, quite enough for one summer (you can't get to many with the clocks back), and hadn't decided exactly what map locations I was after this year besides compass points. That involved getting as far as possible on each main compass point, and as NE crossed into the 7th TM myriad decided to cover both and go up the A12 to Colchester (Hythe actually) on an extremely familiar route never causing any problems since the 1960s. I arrived at Gallows Corner and the short stretch of ordinary road before the trunk road began in Harold Wood, and the traffic ground to a halt. However long later I found myself moving faster than 20mph (which itself was intermittent) in Ingatestone, well over 10 miles from the start of the jam, TQ5692 : The A12 going under the M25 roundabout, near Harold Wood by David Howard and past the point of continuing the lion's share having spent the earlier part of the afternoon gardening for my mother before leaving to head east. Not having planned a plan B the only option was to leave at the next exit (I only knew I was in Ingatestone when I got home and mapped the photo I took when I parked in the layby there) which turned out to be Boreham (very appropriate), with a single road off it not returning to Chelmsford (where I'd just been recently already) which went due north. About a dozen roundabouts later (all recorded more or less) I reached Braintree, admittedly new territory but turned out only 7 miles beyond my existing material after driving well over 50 to get there. The only conclusion drawn from that trip was the A12 was no longer an accepted route and as I'd already tried TM looked at maps to see the alternatives. The two were Mersea Island, a popular childhood haunt during the school holidays, and the unmapped Dengie peninsula. As my maps didn't show roads into TM I assumed it was similar to Foulness Island just over the river Crouch, and MoD land or similar where we can't travel to.

Just out of curiosity I decided to blow up the Google map just in case on a scale I didn't have at home some roads came out of the background and then were passable and hopefully viewable directly on Streetview. Wandering around I saw the nodal point which then crossed into the next myriad TM was a single road, only a fraction was viewable but seemed it reached TR before it stopped, and was another road a mile south well into TR which was viewable. I printed the page out, coloured both routes in and set off for Essex. Apologies to everyone who read this on the forum, but it's only a part of a wider picture here so has to be repeated as a link in the chain. My exit point was a crossroads on Keelings Road, Dengie, turning right and crossing three TM squares and finally into a quarter of a TR. That would complete all adjacent squares as myriad 9 doesn't exist for TQ due to the English Channel getting in the way. I saw a no through road sign at the crossroads to the right as expected, drove past a farm and then the road ended abruptly when it became a grass track.

TL9901 : Farm track past Landwick farm by David Howard

As I did know not all the road was viewable I wondered if it stopped filming it for Google as it became unpassable (many roads look real on maps until you see them dwindle into dirt tracks or footpaths on Streetview) and having driven through the worst series of traffic lights (20 miles of at least) crossing the entire north of London's suburbs after nearly 3 hours was hardly in a condition to consider alternatives. All I knew was I clearly hadn't reached TR but the crossroads was the border for TM and went to Southminster to reach TR easily. Only on returning home did I discover there was a second crossroads not visible on the map and both didn't go straight on but turned left (worryingly similar to a swastika, which is the closest shape I can use to compare it with) so no chance of knowing it wasn't the right one from that. I had both taken the first right of two, and quarter of a mile before the myriad border. I also forgot to write the name 'Bridgewick Road' on the right turn, otherwise Landwick last time would obviously been passed by.

TM0001 : Sign for Bridgewick Road, Dengie by David Howard

So clearly all I could do was return, which was a 6 day wait, and had investigated the area so thoroughly in between I had plans to cover extra territory as once I'd repeated the actual Bridgewick Road route I could then turn left (straight on swastika style) and add a few more potential TM squares depending how far north I went. I just got one more and then took the road west towards Tillingham to add another row of red to the two below to Dengie and Southminster, and for the first time in three recent trips had no jams there, and none back on any as the road clears up after about 6-7pm going west. Looking at the map the final (and not scoreable by Geograph unless it becomes added to the profile data, which may not be a bad idea) mission is to increase my maximum distances between two points on the map. Taken from here currently: SZ8597 : Manhood Lane, Sidlesham by David Howard

Having reached all eight compass points at roughly the same distance already I now have routes on two of them (ie ones which hit the open road almost immediately) planned to stretch out the width of the map (the height again is restricted by the Channel to the south as I've got there to get SZ and TV myriads) but when I feel like it (while the clocks are forward of course). I hope to do the first on Sunday (football, what football?), and was planning the next with my father as it's one we've done for over 40 years from time to time but he hurt his back and needs to recover enough for the long journey sitting. After those I expect it'll be the autumn months as I've driven enough this spring to earn a summer break after the next one, and no doubt because England is not going anywhere in the forseeable future (I'm really not planning going any further) I'll think of some to follow. I am getting my first hectad when the clocks go back, I think it's 13 squares required and two are in a public park so need to get the pair together rather than miss one due to rough planning. I've got a few ideas for the next lot if I'm still motivated, and are all in myriads I have already but much further out. Another thing I learnt is the minimum mileage required to get 8 myriads (9 is different but 7 and 8 are the same) which would look on our map had anyone done it like lines from home to three corners and a little blob on the nodes (if there are any) but would just look like all the red is within one square on the main map but the count would be 8.

Due to geography that is much harder for most people, mine involved about 10-15 miles beyond the hypothetical nodes to the south for little bits sticking out into the sea, and other nodes can be right buggers to get to like TM/TR/TQ/TL. Mersea Island means A12 and then wandering all over the show up and down dodging marshes, streams and the like, so far further mileage wise in reality than on the map, a bit like getting to the Falkland Islands. So although in theory catching 8 myriads in three trips may be possible the practical restrictions can make getting to some a lot harder than the same distance and more in other directions. Without making about a 20 plus mile detour to pick up the M25 at Potters Bar, drive way north of London and then back south to Cranham I can't avoid the potential 90 minutes through London itself to head east, and motorway driving is actually more tiring, in a small car anyway, than suburban. But I now have 8 laurels to rest on, and all future journeys are for fun and not to make a number increase, although I do know each will stretch my currently pretty low maximum between points, 105 miles. But unlike myriad counts that is not a discrete or relatively limited number so as my father says if I just took the plane to Scotland I could bag it in a day but where would the fun be in that?


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Fri, 29 Jun 2012 at 00:49
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