A fun new way to discover your neighbourhood (or country!) is a trend in Europe - and it gets you to places you have never gone before.
It works as follows: you set a distance from your own home you would like to explore. You draw a circle. Each day you pick a destination on that circle and point your navigation app to it. I found Komoot to be very user-friendly and accurate and it works without using data. On the return you can choose to walk straight back home, or you pick a spot five degrees further up the circle, walk to it, and back home from there.
Step by step, this is how you do it.
1. Find your range
Print a map of your neighbourhood - I use Google Maps. I then draw a circle on the map with my starting point at its centre. In the example below I put my favourite coffeeshop, The Birchcliff, as my starting point. As the radius for my circle I use 3 kilometres, which typically will result in an eight km return hike.
2. Pick two points
Next, I find two spots along the circle. The first one is going to be my destination. I then hike to the second point, from where I will hike back. Using two points ensures to have some variation on your return route.
My circle shows Resthaven Memorial Gardens, near the junction of St Clair Ave and Kingston Rd, as a spot to hike to. A few degrees further up the circle I find the junction of Minerva Avenue and Vivian Road. Using street view on Google Maps I find the nearest address, 39 Vivian Road. I use this address as my second destination.
3. Navigate and discover!
I plug this route into Komoot - it results in a 9 km hike, taking me to spots and along streets I have not been to before.
4. Branching out, scaling it up
Naturally you can scale this method up - you can explore your city by public transport or your vacation area by bicycle or car.
Within Ontario, a day trip by car from Haliburton with a 100 kms range leads you to Huntsville and Bracebridge. I used Google Maps and changed the settings to avoid highways.
Similarly, a day trip with a 100 km range from Aix-en-Provence in France leads you to the pretty towns of the Luberon, well-known from Peter Mayle's books, A year in Provence and Toujours Provence. Again I made sure to avoid highways as this makes the journey a lot more scenic.