Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Variation on the West Mendip Way

Last year (2011) I walked various bits of The West Mendip Way, and this year (2012) I thought it would be nice to do the whole thing.

The walk goes from Wells Cathedral to Weston Bay at Uphill, just south of Weston-super-Mare. (Officially it goes the other way, but I think it might be more aesthetically pleasing to finish at the sea).

I've made some variations to the official route, these are:

  1. Avoid dropping down to the road at Draycott, instead cut through Draycott Sleights Nature Reserve.
  2. Walk along the cliff edge from Cheddar to Blackrock Gate.
  3. Go along Velvet Bottom and up to Beacon Batch (the highest point in the Mendips), and then rejoin the official route at Rowberrow Warren. (Although an even further extension could be added here to take in Dolebury Warren).
  4. A minor detour from the official route to visit the summit of Crook Peak.
Here's the route on Google Maps. This variation comes in at around 31 miles (50 km) (without going to Dolebury Warren). And it's bound to turn out a little longer in real life.

The route could be split into 3 stages of around 10 miles each:

  1. Wells to Cheddar, 11 miles (17.4 km).
  2. Cheddar to Winscombe Hill, 10 miles (15.8 km).
  3. Winscombe Hill to Uphill, 10 miles (16.0 km).
My initial research (on Google Maps) indicates that it should be possible to get a bus between Wells and Cheddar (Tweentown) for Stage 1 (33 min), between Cheddar (Tweentown) and Winscombe Hill (17 min) for Stage 2 (or you could extend the walk by returning to Cheddar along the Strawberry Line).

The last stage is trickier, you would need to get a bus between Winscombe Hill and Weston-super-Mare, and then another one between Weston-super-Mare and Uphil (Beach End Road), which will take over an hour. It may be easier to arrange for someone to meet you at the beach for a celebratory ice-cream.

Or it could be done in 2 stages of around 16 miles each, by breaking the route at the summit of Beacon Batch. That way you get to do the highest point in the Mendips on both days.

  1. Wells to Beacon Batch, 16 miles (25.8 km)
  2. Beacon Batch to Uphill, 15 miles (23.4 km)
The car park at the top of Burrington Combe is handily only 1.3 km from Beacon Batch.

My plan is to do this when there is a fine spell of weather in the spring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Enigmatic Python

While attempting to find a programmatic solution to Enigma 1602 (which really is much easier to do with pencil and paper) for the Enigmatic Code Blog, I briefly toyed with the idea of writing my own code to solve sets of linear simultaneous equations.

Then I discovered the rather marvellous SymPy library, which can do that and much more, and made for a very neat solution.

I've really only scratched the surface of this module, but I expect to use it more in the future.

Along with other Python modules that aid in the writing Enigma solutions: unlimited precision integers, set, itertools, collections, fractions, probably lots of other standard modules I have yet to discover, and, of course, my own set of useful routines.

And finally, to squeeze that bit extra out your Python programs you can always try using PyPy, which is a Python interpreter, written in Python. It includes a JIT compiler and often ends up running faster than the standard CPython interpreter.

I tried it on my code for Enigma 1653 - one of the trickier ones - and I got the following runtimes:

CPython 2.7.1: 2m01s
CPython 3.2: 1m52s
PyPy: 0m10s