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Northumberland National Park's challenge

Northumberland National Park (NNP) is the northernmost national park in England. As part of the park’s 60th birthday celebrations, volunteer David Wilson challenged himself to walk its entire length non-stop.

For Walk In The Park, David needed to find the shortest, safest route between its most northerly and southerly points, taking in points of interest. Thanks to various data sets from OS, the final route was calculated in seconds, not days.

What were the challenges?

  • Navigating through an area of more than 1,050 square kilometres.
  • Raising awareness of the park as a whole, including the Sill, a new Landscape Discovery Centre on Hadrian's Wall.
  • Planning the shortest route using defined paths and tracks, but still taking in a few detours to promote areas along the way such as the summit of Cheviot.

What was the solution?

NNP decided to use the OS Detailed Path Network (DPN) data set. They loaded it into PostGIS and formatted it into a routeable network. Then using PG_Routing they were able to initially determine the shortest route from the most northerly point of the park to the most southerly point.

Once a number of key points were identified, the route was then recalculated to incorporate these additions. The final distance came in at 66.2 miles.

OS provided NNP with an iPhone 5c holding an App called walkinthepark, which was developed in-house by Layla Gordon. This allowed David to be tracked and his position recorded on the NNP blog site.

What were the benefits?

  • Without the DPN, David would have tackled this as a paper exercise, using a best guess approach.
  • The decision on the final route would have taken days, rather than seconds.
  • There is no comparable data set to the DPN: The only alternative was the Public Rights of Way layer which isn't a true topological network,and does not include many of the paths and tracks present on access land.
  • DPN allowed David to factor in difficulties along the route such as uneven surfaces and steep gradients.
  • The OS app proved to be a great success with a number of Twitter comments and people following David’s progress on the Blog Site.

The products used

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