New Mapping of Old Pilgrimages

Some years ago we started pulling together information on our past pilgrimages and sharing it online. Part of this was to answer a question about where we had visited most often (Arundel Cathedral was the obvious answer). That gave us a list of all the “waypoints” with their grid references, so why not display them on a map?

We created a mapping page, adding the historic pilgrimages to it and then adding each new pilgrimages after the event, but technology moved on and our solution recently stopped working. Rather than try another sticking plaster on the old code I decided to look at a whole new way of managing the data and generating the maps.

You don’t need to know all the gory technical details (but I’ll add them add the end for the geeks), but you can see the results at

When the page opens you should see England and Wales with a lot of black dots (places we’ve visited) and coloured lines (the routes we’ve walked). As you zoom in the black dots will split , ultimately into individual locations, and as you zoom out they merge again.

At the top left of the map there are buttons to zoom in and out and a measuring tool (though you can zoom with the mouse wheel or your fingers, depending on your device). Top right there’s a button: it might look like a sandwich but it represents layers and allows you to choose what you see on the map. By default all pilgrimages are shown with the stops (black dots) on top.

Clicking on a black dot should display information on the location and the year(s) we visited it. Clicking on a route line should show the name of the pilgrimage and a link to its diary (and maybe which day it was). However, we’ve found clicking to get info a bit hit-and-miss – it probably works best if you deselect most of the pilgrimages and concentrate on those that are relevant..

You’ll notice the early pilgrimages (1975 to 2006) join the dots with straight lines, but from 2007 we’ve used the detailed routes. A good example is the penultimate day of the two St David’s Pilgrimages between Nolton Haven and Solva: the 2010 route follows the coast but the 1992 route walks on water across the bay!

We’ve also found that some of the grid references (often done by eye from a paper map) are a bit off (Some aren’t even on the detailed route!). I’m fixing some of them in slow time. If you find any real howlers let me know and I’ll prioritise those.

Finally, I found an interesting use for the maps this weekend: I’d been out for a cycle ride on the south side of the South Downs, stopping (as is my habit) at churches I passed. Comparing with the pilgrimage maps I found that 4 of these we’d visited on the pilgrimage: Chalton (1982), Blendworth (1982 and 1989), Up Marden (1989) and East Marden (1989) and could compare the photos in our diaries with the current day, but mostly feel a connection to the pilgrimage.

Hope some of you find this of interest.

The technical stuff:

  • Data managed in QGIS
  • Published to web using qgis2web plugin
  • Routes manipulated in Anquet’s Outdoor Map Navigator
  • used to iron out inconsistencies in GPX files
  • GPSUtility used to divide long tracks into individual days
  • Original waypoint list in Excel, lat/lon added in PHP and saved to MySQL (the old solution), then exported back to Excel again

2 thoughts on “New Mapping of Old Pilgrimages”

    1. Hi Howard. Could you give it another try? I’ve changed some settings and it seems much more responsive. If you still have problems, please let me know what device type you are using and I’ll try to work out what’s going wrong. Aidan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.