Monday 28 January 2008

Storwood or bust

The East Riding of Yorkshire is a big county. The north eastern boundary follows the river Derwent. All of the rain over the winter so far has flooded the river, but that happens most years. Some of the fields around the river are known as ings which are often flooded each winter. Wheldrake Ings is a national nature reserve which depends on the flooding for the wildfowl that fly in each year. We set out to map some of the villages that run up to the east bank of the river Derwent. East Cottingwith has a farm on the edge of the village that has some of the ings near to it, but the water looked a bit close for comfort to me.

The next village was Storwood. Not a big place, but it did have a deep, vicious pothole that blew our front tyre. Having changed the wheel, we wandered home via Melbourne and Allerthorpe. A good run out, but an expensive one, unless I can persude the council to pay for the tyre.

Friday 25 January 2008


When I first looked at the Open Street Map, there were lots of blank spaces near me. Slowly we've filled the spaces with roads, villages and so on. Other people have added markers for villages from maps that are out of copyright. For some time now Huggate has been a village stuck in the middle of a blank space, so today we drove out there to join it up to the other villages around.

What a lovely day. A howling gale was blowing, but in the car that didn't matter. The clouds raced across the sky and the small gaps between lit the countryside with bright pools against the black sky. The wolds villages are small and simple, with small old churches, maybe a pub and not much else - except the view. The deep, steep wolds valleys are stunning, the roads are small enough to need a lot of attention even though there is very little traffic. We also saw more bullfinches in one day than I've even seen before.

We joined up Millington to Huggate and North Dalton. There are many more tiny roads to add, and I look forward to seeking them out.

While typing this I was waiting for the new roads to appear on the map, and now they have. The lines on the map do not do justice to the journey we had today. Take a look.

Monday 21 January 2008

Divide and conquer

Most of the data we have gathered for Open Street Map is in the East Riding of Yorkshire, but some has been in Kingston upon Hull. I realised that it was not easy to keep track of how much work has been done and is still to be done. After some thought I realised that the city has been broken up already by the boundary commission into wards for electing councillors, so I would now like to use this. There are twenty-three wards in the city and I intend to add the list to the wiki page for Hull.

We went out in the rain to map more of Hull, filling a few gaps on the edges of the Avenues area. This is now one of the most complete wards of Hull, with only a few streets off Beverley Road and around Hymers college to complete it. The ward has a lot of shops which have almost no detail recorded, but this is for a later pass, probably a warm summer's day. I added the large cemetery beside Springbank West. There are still various bits of landuse to add, other cemeteries, allotments, schools as well are residential. It should look good.

Saturday 19 January 2008

Swollen river

We decided to look at some of the roads and villages just south of Driffield. It was sparked by a conversation about a flood warning on the river Hull between Nafferton and Watton. The river Hull doesn't go even near to Nafferton, but why let facts get in the way of a BBC news report.

We drove to Driffeld and then out to Skerne and on to North Frodingham. After checking out some of the small lanes around there, the River Hull clearly was very high, but not overflowing or even that close. We haven't been near the Derwent in the West of the East Yorkshire, but it will have quietly overflowed as it does most years. We could find no real sign of Emmotland or Church End. The mapping pages provided by a Famous Web Search Engine (FWSE) show all sorts of places like this. They used to be places, perhaps little more than a farm, but now there is nothing on the ground. I now mark many of these as place=locality in OSM. This makes them show up to stop people adding them again, I'd like them to printed in grey to match their status as ghost places.

The ride took a lot longer than expected and as the light started to go and I was looking forward to a cup of tea, we headed home, through Leven and the very twisty road to Wawne. The hamlet of Meaux (pronounced locally as muse) didn't show up, so it is another locality.

There's lots more to do in this area, including some largish villages such as Leven, Brandsburton and Beeford which will each take hours to complete, and there are still roads that are untouched.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Where to start

I have been adding data to the Open Street Map project since last Autumn. It is interesting and satisfying but I haven't kept any blog about it, so here is that blog ...

Open Street Map (OSM) is a Wiki project to create a free-to-use map of the world. People contribute a bit or a lot by any means they can, so long as they data has no copyright strings attached. You can find OSM at My user name is chillly (three l s).

You can trace over aerial photos using a tool provided called Potlatch. These are Yahoo photos that are of varying level of detail depending where you looking at. It's useful, can be accurate (partly depends on the Yahoo detail) and needs nothing but a browser.

You can also gather data with a GPS device, upload it and then use the tracks to draw the detail to add to the database. I find this much more interesting since you actually have to visit the places you map. We (Jean and I) visit a place with our GPS and camera either on foot or by car and cover the roads, footpaths, byways, car parks or whatever, letting the GPS record our route and recording place names, street names and other notable items such as pubs, churches, schools, shops, etc with the camera. This lets us add much more detail with Potlatch, but only for places we can visit.

Other people have other means of adding data, such as loading publicly available data, some of which seems very good - some not so good. Some work on their own area, others enjoy adding distant parts of the world that no one else is working on yet.

It is surprising how things turn up that you didn't know were there and how much you can deduce from looking at something from afar.

We are working on the East Riding of Yorkshire at present and Kingston upon Hull, though the odd foray elsewhere is always possible. I intend to summarise the work we have done so far and then keep a track of progress. We have a Wiki page about East Yorkshire to keep track of things, but it is not descriptive.

Another important part of the process is rendering which turns the raw data into a map which is useful, but much more of this another time.