Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Trafalgar Way

On Sunday I passed a plaque commemorating the route that Lieutenant Lapenotiere took in 1805 to carry news of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London. The bi-centenary of his journey was celebrated in 2005 by marking out the route with plaques, and producing a map. One of the plaques is on Kensington High Street.

Lieutenant Lapenotiere covered the 271 miles in 37 hours in a fast carriage called a post chaise, drawn by four horses. He changed horses 21 times at a cost to the admiralty of £46 19s 1p in expenses.

It occurred to me that one day his route might make for an interesting longer cycle trip. So this evening I started playing around with route planners to see what sort of options there were.

If anyone has produced a Post Chaise Route Planner then I'm not aware of it. Bike Route Toaster generates a straightforward suggestion that takes a fairly direct line through Exeter, Yeovil, Salisbury, Andover, Reading and Slough. The most significant difference form the original route seems to be that Lieutenant Lapenotiere took a longer, more southerly loop through Dorchester between Exeter and Salisbury. Then he took a more direct route through Basingstoke and Staines rather than today's longer suggestion further north through Reading and Slough.

Falmouth to London is too far for CycleStreets to plan in one go, so that will need breaking down into shorter steps. Meanwhile I thought I'd give Google Maps a try. It does't have a cycling option, so I asked for a walking route, and got an interesting suggestion.

Perhaps it's a good thing that they didn't have this stuff automated 200 years ago. Under the circumstances touching down a couple of times in France would have been a little tactless in 1805.


Anonymous said...


Martin said...

I hadn't noticed that they had added a routing facility to OpenStreetMap. It looks good. As it's still in development, perhaps it's not too late to add a Post Chaise icon to the list of routing options.

gom1 said...

Thanks anon - I had forgotten that one, and it looks good.

Paul Loy said...

We just completed a cycle ride of the Trafalgar Way. Took us 35 hours. I used MapMyRide, here's the route: http://beta.mapmyride.com/route/detail/21424202/

I made sure we went through the 21 stops that were originally made according to href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafalgar_Way.

We did it for help for heroes.

I would highly recommend the ride. It's pretty hard work doing it within the 37 hours and very dependent upon the weather and punctures (we had one).

Let me know if you do it!

gom1 said...

Wow - congratulations Paul. It hadn't occurred to me that it could be done in that time. When did you sleep?

Paul Loy said...

We split it up into 4 legs and basically did close to this (although with other little breaks and an hour on a puncture on the A30 we were only actually in the saddle for 17hrs 10mins):

6am-12pm: Falmouth to Okehampton
12pm-2pm: Rest
2pm-8pm: Okehampton to Bridport
8pm-4am: Rest (sleep)
4am-10am: Bridport to Andover
10am-12pm: Rest
12pm-5pm: Andover to Admiralty Arch, The Mall, London