Mapping the Camino Francés

Many, many years ago when we were both wearing different hats, Bryson Guptill and I went on a “prospecting” trip to Toronto on behalf of the Government of Prince Edward Island. I was along as a sort of “technical advisor” and Bryson was leading the charge. It was a bizarre trip the likes of which I was never asked to go on again. And as far as I know it bore no fruit for the province.

But it did introduce me to Bryson, and we’ve maintained an acquaintance in the years since.

These days Bryson’s passion is hiking, and the most recent manifestation of this was a 34-day walk of the Camino Francés from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. He turned the tale of the walk into a book, Camino Francés: A Practical Guide to Walking the Pilgrim’s Path from France to Spain, and asked for my help in creating a companion web-map for the book.

Bryson’s been an avid OpenStreetMap contributor for the last 8 years, and so he had the forethought to drop GPS breadcrumbs as he was walking, and the technical savvy to get these into a Google Map on his return. He wanted my help to create a purpose-built map, using OpenStreetMap rather than Google Maps, and so that’s what I built.

The first thing Bryson needed to do was to create a simplified route: he’d been dropping breadcrumbs with enough frequency that the resulting GIS data was much too detailed for our purposes. So he retraced the route by hand, and created a much more reasonably-sized layer.

I exported this from Google Maps into a KML file, and then transformed the KML into a GeoJSON file using I split the route–a line–from the overnight stops along the route–points–into two separate GeoJSON files, cleaned up the order of the waypoints, and added some metadata to them (the name of the lodging, the distance traveled that day, etc.).

With the data in-hand (camino-frances-route.geojson and camino-frances-waypoints.geojson) I created a web app, using the excellent Leaflet JavaScript library, the Awesome Number Markers plugin, along with jQuery and jQuery Mobile. For the base map and hill-shading layers, I used tiles from the OpenStreetMap-derived Hike & Bike Map.

You can see the result at and you can learn more about Bryson’s walk at the Charlottetown launch of the book, Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at Confederation Centre Public Library. I’ll be there too if you’d like to chat about the map.


Bryson Guptill's picture
Bryson Guptill on February 19, 2017 - 17:35 Permalink

You missed the part about you being a genius when it comes to this stuff! I was delighted to travel to Toronto with you 20 plus years ago and continue to be amazed by your practical skills. :-)

Sandra attersley's picture
Sandra attersley on May 15, 2017 - 11:57 Permalink

Is there a way to have the map available offline, of each day. I am starting the Camino on May 17 and hope I can use it day by day relying on wifi.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on May 15, 2017 - 11:58 Permalink

At present, no: you need to have data on your device for the map tiles to load.

But this is an option I’m looking at. Not in time for May 17th, alas.