Thursday, 15 January 2015

Mapping the route 1

Navigation needs
To follow the Via as closely as practicable will inevitably involve travelling along lots of minor roads with many twists and turns. A map or guide will suit walkers' navigation needs but those of a biker are quite different. Whilst a map is indeed a necessity - and very effective for large scale route planning - a satnav makes light work of complicated routes since it can automatically direct the rider from waypoint to waypoint without the need to stop and refer to the map. A search on the web indicated a number of ready-made Via Francigena (VF) satnav files, although these appeared to be mostly for walkers or cyclists. So I decided to create my own route map and export it as a satnav file to use as a guide on my trip. I thought this might be a useful navigation exercise that would begin to familiarise me with the towns and villages along the route.

The most common resource for route planning  - possibly because it's freely available - is probably Google Maps, so I settled down to learn how to create my own map using this tool; it turned out to be remarkably simple.

The stops along the way were equally easy to find - Wikipedia lists all of bishop Sigeric's 80 stops along the way. And so my first task was to enter these into a custom Google map.

Tweaking the route
I need to decide how closely to follow the VF. I could travel from one of Sigeric's stop to the next, choosing the most interesting route (for a motorbike); this would certainly qualify as having completed the Via but there is a certain lack of authenticity about that, because I wouldn't have travelled through the smaller villages along the way - something that gives the routes its character. Or, I could find out the the walker's route from an authoritative source and attempt to trace this, Such a route would certainly take me through the villages and along lots of minor roads; but I would need to be prepared to travel more slowly. Which should I do?

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