<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Mapping the Lakes: Interactive Maps Introduction

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Interactive Maps


Towards Black CombeThese interactive maps use Google Earth technology to visualise the movements of both Gray and Coleridge through the Lake District landscape. This is also the space on the site where texts and maps have been directly linked, allowing the user to explore the geo-specificity and spatiality of the accounts of place offered by the two writers. These maps also highlight the wider practical and theoretical potentiality presented by Google Earth.

In order to access these maps, it is necessary to download Google Earth. Please click here to be redirected to the Google Earth site.

- Click here for the tours with an 1815 map of the Lake District (2.9Mb)

- Click here for just the tours (380Kb)

- Click here for advice on how to use Google Earth to view these texts and maps

Guide to Texts & Maps

In order to differentiate between variables in the texts, and on the map, we have developed the following colour-coded keys:

Symbols used in the texts:

Symbols on the map:

Symbol - A place Gray visits (with day number)

Symbol - A place Gray mentions but does not visit (with day number)

Green line - A straight line that links the places Gray visits in the order he mentions them

Symbol - A place Coleridge visits (with day number)

symbol - A place Coleridge mentions but does not visit (with day number)

Red line - A straight line that links the places Coleridge visits in the order he mentions them

The use of Google Earth: Mapping New Territory

In his 'Guide to the Lakes', Wordsworth attempts to map out the boundaries of his native region. To facilitate this mapping, he endeavours to locate the centre of the Lake District: a project which results in the construction of an imaginary 'station' hovering over the Cumbrian landscape:

'To begin, then, with the main outlines of the country; - I know not how to give the reader a distinct image of these more readily, than by requesting him to place himself with me, in imagination, upon some given point; let it be the top of either of the mountains, Great Gavel, or Scawfell; or, rather, let us suppose our station to be a cloud hanging midway between those two mountains, at not more than half a mile's distance from the summit of each, and not many yards above their highest elevation; we shall then see stretched at our feet a number of valleys, not fewer than eight, diverging from the point, on which we are supposed to stand, like spokes from the nave of a wheel.' (p. 171)

The emergence of Google Earth technology allows the user to develop a spatial understanding of the region which is analogous to, what Michael Wiley describes as, Wordsworth's 'literalizing' of a 'bird's eye geographical perspective' (p. 157). Google Earth allows the user to follow the Wordsworthian spatial model and to imagine him or herself looking down upon the Lake District landscape. Google Earth offers a movement beyond the cartographical limitations of GIS through its visual representation of the contoured landscape: it allows the user to develop a sense of the shape and structure of the terrain.

By extension, Google Earth facilitates a further understanding of the ways in which both Gray and Coleridge document physical movement through environment. The fluidity and interactivity of this type of mapping enables the user to virtualise the embodied experience of 'being-in-the-world' that is articulated in the geo-specific texts. It is a literary cartography which reinforces Michel de Certeau's assertion that 'space is a practiced [sic] place' (p. 117).

1815 Map of the Lake DistrictThe use of Google Earth also opens up thinking about the process of map-making. Traditional maps offer cartographical representations of what de Certeau defines as 'places': they offer a geometric visualisation of fixed geographical co-ordinates or what de Certeau refers to as 'an instantaneous configuration of positions' (p. 117). Google Earth, however, moves beyond the fixed limitations of such cartographies by offering a virtual reconstruction of a three-dimensional 'tour' of space rather than a one-dimensional 'map' of place (p. 119). In this cartographical context, the accounts of natural environment articulated by Gray and Coleridge are represented in 'terms of operations and movements' rather than as 'a tableau' of geographical data (p. 119).

As a result, the use of digital space opens up thinking about both literary and cartographical spatialities. What is more, the use of Google Earth has pedagogical potential, allowing users, who may be unfamiliar with a particular terrain, to read geo-specific texts alongside a virtual representation of the contoured topography.

That said, the use of Google Earth is not without its limitations. The technology allows the user to rotate the cartographical representation of space in order to replicate a writer's self-positioning within the landscape; but, at present, the contours of the landscape become blurred when the user locates him or herself at ground level. In future, it will no doubt become possible for the user to read Gray's 'Journal' whilst simultaneously positioning him or herself at Crow Park, looking south across Derwentwater and into the sequestered space of Borrowdale. Similarly, it will probably also become possible to recreate the sense of dizzying verticality experienced by Coleridge as he stood at the top of Broad Stand.

The most significant problems in these Google Earth mappings, however, arise through the use of a straight-line methodology to chart the writers' movements through space. It is a cartographical process which leads to frequently erroneous mappings and it is a problem which is discussed in greater detail in 'Research Outcomes'.