The Ultimate Relationship... and the Earth Collective

Navigating the terrain

I have been doing a lot of cycling, as I mentioned previously, in order to view the terrain in the target area for the Earth Collective, prior to starting my property search. So, I thought I would share my preferred navigation system, as it’s a little unconventional.

I use maps software on the computer to plan the route in advance, and seem to have developed a good feel for what 25 miles looks like, which covers a reasonable area and provides a satisfactory workout. Then I use ‘street view’ to get a visual of the junctions, which is especially useful in Ireland where the lanes are tiny, junctions ambiguous and often lacking in signs. I memorise the route, eg. turn left, right, go straight on, along with the images of the junctions. If there are lots of twists and turns and I am concerned I might forget a few, I take a photo of the junctions on my computer screen, with my phone, which provides a backup of last resort.

Inchydoney Island, Clonakilty Bay, Co Cork

“What’s wrong with sat nav’ or a cycling app’", I hear you ask?

Firstly, I don’t want to have my phone on, emitting microwave frequencies, when I am out in pristine nature. This feels like an oxymoron. (Actually, my phone is in airplane mode most of the time, and lives in a Faraday bag, hence no location tracking, data mining or electro-smog). Secondly, I don’t want a computer voice telling me where to go, whilst I am listening to birdsong, wind rustling through the trees, or mooing cows. Thirdly, it’s an opportunity to exercise my memory (in addition to my body). And finally, it sharpens my intuition, as things always look different on the ground.

I love it when I complete a ride, with minimum (or preferably zero) errors of course. Conversely, it can be quite satisfying if I get it wrong (which happens occasionally), but manage to intuit my way back to the campsite, or the pick-up truck if I drove to the area.

Cycling is a great way to observe detail - how people and their animals live, how wet or dry the land is, how rocky, what type of soil, what plants, what hazards, as well as noticing local microclimates. One side of a hill can be completely different to another regards wind, rain and sun; similarly, one part of a valley can be different to the rest. And given my life-long habit of physical training (which is no longer required, as I am not competing in sport any more), I still feel the need to use my body and enjoy the benefit of good fitness, without the pain. Cycling fits the bill.

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