Posted on

Bristol Greenground Map – connecting parks and open spaces in and around Bristol

Bristol map is the third map of the Greenground Map series and connects the parks and open spaces to inspire walks (and bike rides) inside and further out in the city. With 10 inspiring green lines and around 250 green spaces to explore, the map does not only include the inner Bristol, but expands to other areas such as coastal town Portishead as well as links to surrounding countryside; also including the Bristol and Bath railway Path – a walking and cycling path to neighbouring city Bath.

Bristol’s most famous and recognisable landmark is River Avon, which also becomes the first line on the map. River Avon Trail is also the most easiest line to navigate, running from Avonmouth to Bath. I’ve included two more river lines – Frome and Hazel Trym that offer nice walks along the riverbank, if not all the way then at least on some sections on the line. The Woody Line in the West of Bristol covers the leafiest area – Leigh Woods and Ashton Court as well as some of the nature preserves further away.

As Bristol is very creative city and the street art has become a very important scene over the past years I also included a Street Art line which includes some more nature inspired works. The Upfest festival location on North Street is one of the main areas to see murals such as One Love Coral Reef by Louis Masai or Cheeky Seagull near the Greville Smyth Park. Park murals also include Ollie Gillard’s nature murals in the Redcatch Park, a new St George Park mural and Eurasian Lynx by ATM near King’s Square.

Working on this map was an opportunity to take a walk down to memory lane, as I walked and cycled all over and up & down Bristol during my MA. I remember long walks to Bower Ashton from Bedminster on weekends and crossing the misty Avon on the bike on my way to work in the mornings. Although I know few of the routes covered on this map, there are many more I haven’t walked on and making this map has been truly mind expanding. I hope you enjoy using this map as much as I did making it!

15,000+ views/downloads so far!

Would like to support the development of Greenground Map project? Your donation will help these maps to grow! 🌱

Donate with PayPal

Posted on

The first Edinburgh Greenground Map

It’s been a while since my last post and I thought it’s about time I created something new! As the London Greenground Map has turned out to be my most successful project so far with 46,000 downloads and 500 paper maps sold up to now, I have decided to keep creating these schematic walking maps, which people like and I love making. So the next map in the Greenground series is another green capital – Edinburgh! 🏰⛰️

Edinburgh is much more compact than London and this map aims to connect most Edinburgh parks and open spaces and some further afield. I have not included Queensferry as I wanted to keep the diamond shape of the map, but I am open to all suggestions & comments to make this map spread wider in future versions. Right now it covers around 220 Edinburgh open spaces and has 9 creative green and blue lines.

Those who follow me on Twitter know I base my maps on Google Maps, which is great tool to work with, but is not always accurately showing all the green spaces. For Edinburgh map I also used Parks and Gardens list of Edinburgh Council to find smaller parks. Some of these parks do not come up on Google maps and can be located using this directory. The Muir line is based on John Muir Way and more detailed maps can be seen on their website.

Edinburgh is a very walkable city and also in a walking distance from the countryside. To show this I extended the lines to south up to Pentland Hills Regional Park, that’s only 6 miles away from the centre or 8 miles via scenic Water of Leith walking path. However walking and cycling from Edinburgh can be challenging due the bypass that divides Edinburgh & the great outdoors as well as numerous golf clubs that are green, but closed off from public.

The Edinburgh map is in chillier tones than London map, reflecting the cool northern vibe. I’ve only visited Edinburgh during low light autumn/winter season and I think it’s a beautiful quiet time of year to walk in the parks & by the seaside and follow the river paths on the bike. As we are heading to this season now I hope the map helps Edinburgh locals to get out and discover new green spaces during this winter. 🚶‍♀️🚴

For closer look see the PDF
5,000+ views/downloads so far!

Would like to support the development of Greenground Map project? Your donation will help these maps to grow! 🌱

Donate with PayPal

Posted on

How a Greenground navigation could look like II

If the idea of continuous pavement line network across London seems too out there, then another option could be more traditional wayfinding system with sign-posts in the centre or at the entrances of the green space. As the core idea of the Greenground is to travel through and between the parks, then maybe in the centre rather than at each entrance. Also, I measure the distance between the parks from approximate centre point of the park. As some of the parks are huge and the Greenground diagram shows circles I think this is the only way to do this if the walkers and cyclers aim to travel from park to park.

Royal Line signpost in Kensington Park

However the ‘park pole’ should still be on a used path, not for example in the field or woods. It should have a park name, on which ‘line’ this park is and which are the closest parks on the line. It could also have the time it takes to walk or cycle to the next green space and what outdoor activities the park has. This solution is not as easy to navigate than the robust pavement lines, but it is more discreet and would still help people to discover their parks. Even if you are not familiar with the Greenground concept, seeing one of those green poles makes you take notice of the parks nearby. Technically these signs would also work without the ‘line’ attached just as a guide for nearby parks.

Grand Regent/ North Line signpost next to Victoria Park

The park pole could also be at the edge of the park if it’s on a quiet way by the river or canal, where lot of people would pass. I think there is no particular rule either than being somewhere central, where it is seen. For example Victoria park runs along the Regent Canal, but its true centre is quite far – if you walk by the canal, you wouldn’t come across the pole. It’s also possible the park is connected with several ‘lines’. Victoria park on the Greenground map is on Regent Line, but is also nearby to other significant North London parks ‘connected’ via North Line. The alternative could be Victoria park having two park poles for each line.

Royal/South Line signpost in Richmond Park

In more ‘rural’ settings the park pole could be made of wood instead of metal and stand on main path or on a crossroad somewhere close to the centre point, where people could rest and decide which path to take next. In a way it is like a ‘station’, where you can plan your next part of the journey, check the distance/time to next stop and maybe change lines if you wish to. You can also ‘get off’ from the line, explore the park and continue the journey later. The sign in this setting might look intrusive, but at the same time it is clearly visible for everyone.

City Line signpost in Festival Gardens

To sum up the whole idea of ‘park pole’ approach is to find a central place that becomes a station for slow commuters. It can be either in the geographical centre or near a resting area in the green space. This more traditional wayfinding system points from park to park, however it’s up to commuter to find the exact way. I think this approach would work in certain areas, but may be more challenging to establish in rural settings, where is more concern for keeping the integrity of the landscape and in city centre parks where the space is limited.

Would this work? Would be great to hear, what you guys think in Twitter!

Posted on

How a Greenground navigation could look like?

The first paper edition of #GreengroundMap came out last week (yay!) and I have been thinking how the Greenground idea could work in reality. The map is inspired by the London underground system, but the core idea is for people to walk and cycle between parks and green spaces. Obviously the Greenground is not as defined as the transport system, where the tube takes people from station the station. So how would walkers and cyclists navigate from park to park in a simple and straightforward way using visual clues like they do in the underground?

Grand Regent Line – Greenground line that would connect the parks along Regent and Grand Union Canals

The simplest solution would be to use painted lines on the pavement in public spaces. As the cities grow more complicated, the coloured footpath lines could build a designated grid for the walkers and cyclists through quieter natural environments, away from the busy roadsides and traffic. This could work well along the waterways, which by nature are simple to navigate. The lines wouldn’t divide the path like traffic lines do, but run alongside as a navigation tool, making the turns and twists at detours.

Thames Line – Greenground line connecting parks along the Thames

The parks and open spaces on the line would be the open green ‘stations’ where to rest briefly or spend time in nature and enjoy outdoor activities. Parks could have some designated seating areas and signage for the ‘Greenground’ commuters and even facilities such as water fills and bicycle racks. The downside could be the overcrowded lines in certain times and some of these ‘park stations’ could face overuse. However, if to guide the Greenground commuters to wider roads, the rest of park grounds wouldn’t suffer as much.

Thames Line park station with way-finding sign

The pavement lines could work in paved city environment, but not all London (thankfully) is paved. There are still plenty of tracks and paths for walkers and cyclists to explore in more natural surroundings. The walking paths such as Capital Ring and London Loop mostly go through natural environments and are intended for urban hikers. The Greenground is not a competition to these paths and does not replace them. It’s a visual navigation system to enable people to switch from transport systems to active travel more easily.

North Line under the bridge connecting open spaces and green ways in the north

Perhaps this physical marking is not so much needed in the digital era, where everyone has a personal navigation device. The map could also remain digital and act as a reference rather than propose a physical way-finding system. With no painted lines the Greenground navigation could be more intuitive and personal. With only existing virtually, the lines can be easily adjusted, added and changed if one area starts to get too much traffic. Especially small parks and narrow paths may feel the pressure more, if suddenly too many people passes through.

It’s wonderful the first Greenground map has been received so well, but is it just a quirky idea or could it be a real life navigation system?

Posted on

Forest bathing and beach tracks

I don’t have any new projects to post this week as I am taking few weeks off, but I’ve been walking as usual and covered some good distance this weekend. I’m still exploring ‘locally’ which for me means covering around 10-15 km a day. I could walk more locally, but the forest is a bit scruffy around here and I prefer to go further out. Anyway, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the time than exploring.

Forest bathing in the woods

Yesterday I did a 10 km circular walk passing the Tallinn TV Tower and ending up in the nicer parts of Pirita Forest. I think this is now my favourite place for forest bathing as it’s so quiet compared to the city centre. There were plenty of people around, but social distancing is not really a problem here once you keep off the main tracks. I found a pretty, quiet spot, had some tea and took in big breaths of pine forrest.

Today I wanted to find out if I could walk to the beach (as I really miss it), so I set off around noon. The beach from here is about 5 km away and I usually take a bus. But with no public transport option today I had to walk and it was a great walk too in the woods and by the river. I might even take this route occasionally once the lock-down ends. The return walk was less than 12 km and the beach was lovely today.

Pirita beach and forest

I hope next week will be more eventful and maybe some interesting project comes up.. But for now I just keep doing my loops and keep fingers crossed the world opens up soon. Be safe and keep walking!

Posted on

Walks in the woods

Everyone should be able to walk into the forest from where they live. Tallinn is luckily quite a small city compared to some other capitals and nature is never too far off. Yet it can be far (as I discovered this week) if you don’t own a car or can use the public transport (which by the way is free). So I’ve been doing some pretty long walks this week to get into the woods during the lock-down.

I walked another 30 km this weekend just like last week and discovered more of the Pirita river valley. It’s not very attractive where I am based right now, but it gets lot better in about 2 km with high river banks on both sides and pine forests along the river banks. Watching wild ducks practising fly-bys along the river valley was not what I expected to see in urban environment.

It’s not all amazing, I’ve also seen lot of rubbish and neglect in these few days – it is still a city and the nature gets the impact from densely populated area. Many people have not been respectful of social distancing and the car parks are full despite of the lock-down.. But across the river Pirita forest’s intertwining tracks were still quiet in most parts and less impacted by the hordes in the valley.

Walking track in Pirita Forest
Pine trees
Teepee made of branches

Local walks in the woods have definitely made my week and I also finished the ‘greener and healthier walking app’ design prototype I’ve been working on for the past week or two for my Coursera project. This was my final submission and I’m quite happy how it turned out (below). If anyone would like to try, the interactive version is in Visme as well.

As it has been pretty quiet over here I’ve decided to take a two week break and hope things pick up again when I resume working. 🤞

Posted on

Corona, connecting with nature and Coursera

I am going to change the format of this blog a little and instead of posting only finished projects I will reuse the same method I did with my travel blog few years back – I will talk about what I do on ongoing bases and include the projects as part of the weekly/twice a month posts ( depending how I’m getting on with this time wise and if there’s anyone interested reading it every week) : )

There’s not much new to say about Corona as it’s hit us here in Estonia just as anywhere else. The country went to lock-down as precaution and everything pretty much shut down this week. We’ll see what the long term effects of this will be, but right now the supermarkets are still well stocked (as my Friday shopping trip confirmed) and panic buying does not have such a big impact here (yet).

Things for me were quiet even before the global pandemic and apart of one map project there’s nothing happening right now. The great news is this means I can go for the walks also inside the week and not only on the weekends. Avoiding public transport and not owning a car means I have to discover my local neighbourhood which at first seemed dispiriting, but turned out to be lot better than I expected!

So for three days this week I’ve explored the walks around Pirita river valley – one of the biggest nature reserves in this area. I’ve often walked on the Pirita beach, but I haven’t been in the river valley for years and I didn’t realise how close they are linked. This week I was able to connect the two tracks and discover a new long distance walk that passes some of the most beautiful scenery in the city.

The Pirita forest is a dense urban forest of dominantly beach pine and the river winds through it, offering stunning views on every turn – on one side of high white sand banks and on other of reed beds and abundant wild fowl. It’s amazing to see the nature thriving in the middle of the city, so close to urban development. This is also an active leisure area and yet it remains very calm and spacious.

Calm views across the river towards sand banks and pine forest

As much as I’m loving my social isolation walks it’s also certain things won’t stay this quiet forever. So for the last few weeks I’ve also been taking an online course at Coursera to see if this will bring in some new ideas and ideally new work. I’m taking the UX design fundamentals by Cal Arts and I really enjoy it and can highly recommend it to anyone interested to know more of UX.

My final self-chosen course project is an app prototype for planning greener and healthier journeys and the core idea is to offer alternative route suggestions based on air quality, noise levels, urban greenery and activity count. So this is what I am working on right now and fingers crossed this could also evolve to a real world project.

Anyone out there interested in building or funding it? : )

Posted on

London Greenground map with distances

The newest of London Greenground maps has more fluid lines, especially for Thames line that now follows the river more naturally, includes 100 more parks with 400 parks and open spaces total and as a new feature shows the walking distances between parks. I have also began to locate the green ways that are long linear parks usually by the waterway or railway tracks and sketched in some new suggestions for creative walking loops. 🚶‍♀️♾️

This diametrical map does not show the exact routes, but rather acts as a starting point in planning more precise journeys. The distance line lengths between parks and open spaces vary as the walking routes are not always straightforward and at times can be quite winding. This is why a mile on a map is represented with considerable difference. However I hope the map gives a larger scope for someone planning a green route in Greater London.

In most cases the distances are calculated from park centre to park centre and sometimes, especially with large parks, the walking distance between differs. For example Kensington and Hyde Park are next to each other and could be crossed over in minutes, but walking from centre to centre is a mile long route and takes considerably more time. As no one would be walking only to the edge of the park I thought centre distances would make more sense.

The loops and lines that make up the map are suggestions rather than fixed routes and the main intention of the map is to show London as one connected green network and encourage active movement between parks and along the waterways. Currently not all the London roads are quiet or safe because of traffic, but hopefully this will change soon when more people are becoming interested in active travel. 🚶‍♀️🚴‍♂️

For closer exploration see the PDF
70,000+ views/downloads so far!

Would like to support the development of Greenground Map? Your donation will help the map to grow! 🌱

Donate with PayPal
Posted on

Edinburgh Green Walk II – Meadows to Grassmarket

This is the second walk of my Edinburgh green walk series and covers around 5 miles of parks as well as some Edinburgh highlights. You could easily spend a full day on this walk, if you want to visit all the sights, but I would recommend at least half a day. Climbing up to Arthur’s Seat takes some time (unless you are very fit!) and I’d plan at least an hour for National Gallery. 

Start this walk with a cup of coffee and a Swedish pastry at Söderberg Coffee Shop by The Meadows. Sainsbury’s next to the cafe is a good place to stock up, if you want to bring some snacks/ picnic lunch for your walk. Continue into the park and walk through it diagonally, turning left at the entrance.

Pass the Summer Hall and turn onto E Preston Street. Near the Lloyds Bank building turn  to Holyrood Park road and enter the Holyrood Park. There’s an information stand near the entrance with paths to Arthur’s Seat. Choose the one you prefer, I recommend middle path for its quiet and great views over valley.

Walk along the path until you meet people coming up from the other side. It gets busier here when you come to main stream, turn right and continue along The Dasses path until it splits. You can now join the crowds and climb up to Arthur’s Seat or continue little longer and have a quiet picnic by yourself.

When you finish admiring the views continue along the path towards Dunsapie Loch. You can see the lake from anywhere and it’s a nice gentle stroll down. If you do feel you need to catch your breath, there’s a bench by the loch you can rest and swan spot. Otherwise turn left and continue along Queen’s Drive.

Where Queen’s Drive splits keep left. There’s another nice viewing spot by the St Margaret’s Loch and more swans. You can also see the ruins of Saint Anthony’s Chapel from here if you look up the hillside. Continue until you reach the roundabout and turn right, passing Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Take the Canongate Street to city centre that has few sights on the way such as Canongate Kirk yard and Museum of Edinburgh. Turn right at Jeffrey Street and keep going until you reach to Scottish National Gallery. There’s a cafe in the gallery or Costa on Princes street with good views over castle.

The highlights in the gallery include known artworks such as The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch and The Monarch of the Glen, but there’s much more to explore including art by Scottish painters. If you have a backpack leave it in the locker or carry it in your hand when you walk.

Finished at the gallery walk up The Mound and turn left up the hill until you reach to Royal Mile. Cross the Lawnmarket and the next house on your left is  National Library of Scotland. It has interesting staircase and a shop if you have time to peek in. It also holds exhibitions and has a small cafe.

When you exit the library go back a little bit the way you came from and turn left to Victoria street leading to Haymarket. Half way down the street you find a The Bow Bar, go in for authentic pub experience. You can rest off your walk, have a drink from wide selection of spirits and take in the quirky interior.

 

EdinburghGreenWalk2

Posted on

Edinburgh green walk – Waverley to Calton Hill

This is a great walk if you want to get to know the Edinburgh highlights, but also have some down-time away from the crowds. I’d recommend this walk either in the morning or afternoon. With fast pace this walk could be done in less than two hours, but if you want to really enjoy it, allow at least 2 and half hours or even better – half a day.

Start from Waverley Cafe stand, which is a cute coffee box near Waverley station. Bring your own reusable cup for take-away coffee to warm up your walk (especially in winter). Take the News Steps up to Old Town and enjoy the views over Edinburgh New Town.

Turn to St Giles’ Street up to Lawnmarket and walk along the Royal Mile until the Edinburgh Castle. If you have enough time and sterlings to spare, visit the castle, otherwise turn left and take the Patrick Geddes Steps down to Grassmarket Square.

There are few benches you can sit on, if you feel tired of climbing up and down the stairs. When you have had enough rest and people watching, continue the walk towards Castle Terrace. There’s an entry to Princes Street Garden behind the car park. 

Walk through the gardens taking in the views of the castle. There’s plenty more seating if you want to chill out for a while. Gross the road beside The Royal Scottish Academy and you are in East side of Princes Street Gardens with great views and Scott Monument.

Turn to busy Princes Street and continue walking until you reach Calton Hill. Take the steps up and walk around the Observatory for great views all around. When you finish exploring take the Regent Walk back down (you can also reverse the steps and walk).

Walk to The Conan Doyle for after walk rest and pub food. It’s a chain pub named after famous novelist, but quite nice to finish the walk. Note there are construction works happening in the area and continue to find somewhere quieter if you like.

 

edinburghgreenwalk1