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So I think I might have been hacked...my Google maps has gone crazy. I tried poking a couple of places in, and it is taking me to the wrong location.

When I enter CAYMAN, it tells me it is between the villages of Hope Bowdler and Wall under Heywood in Shropshire.

When I enter ISLAND, it tells me it is just outside of Harthill village in Cheshire (note: the original version of this puzzle had this errantly placed in South Yorkshire...thanks to Stiv for noting).

When I enter DURHAM, it tells me it is a few miles east of Dalbury Lees parish in Derbyshire.

When I enter WARSAW, it tells me it is just outside Copt Heath in the West Midlands, by Grand Union canal.

Crikey! I don't even live in the UK! In fact, my next trip is to POLAND, but I'm afraid to look it up. Can you tell me where my hacked Google maps will point me?

HINT:

So I experimented a bit more with this, and I tried searching a few more words. The first three words I tried: GERMANY, SPAIN, and LONDON. For all of them, I got "404 Page not Found" errors. So I hoped everything was back to normal. But check this out: when I started to make plans to board my dogs, I accidentally typed KENNEL into Google Maps instead of the regular search engine, and dangit if it didn't take me just southwest of Little Downham village in Cambridgeshire. I mean, maybe there's a kennel there, but it's a bit far from home.

HINT:

Six is not a prime number.

HINT:

3166 is also not a prime number.

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  • $\begingroup$ I notice these are all rot13(fvk yrggref, naq fb ner znal Oevgvfu cbfgny pbqrf); I wonder whether there's anything there. $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Jul 4 '20 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ Thought the same @msh210, but have dead ended. $\endgroup$
    – MrSethward
    Jul 5 '20 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ This fact is NOT a coincidence, but not for the reason suggested. Good luck! $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '20 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ Probably not relevant to the problem, but I put all the key words in, and Google suggested I take a look at a "Guide to the top Cayman Islands kennels"! $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Jul 8 '20 at 13:54
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The first thing to notice here is that:

Each of the entered words which lead you to a valid UK location can be split into 2 parts, 3-letters long. In each case, these 3-letter segments are valid ISO 3166-2:GB codes that designate a particular UK location:

CAYMAN = CAY (Caerphilly) + MAN (Manchester);
ISLAND = ISL (Islington) + AND (Ards and North Down);
DURHAM = DUR (Durham County) + HAM (Hampshire);
WARSAW = WAR (Warwickshire) + SAW (Sandwell);
KENNEL = KEN (Kent) + NEL (North East Lincolnshire).

How does this produce the locations turned up by your 'hacked' Google Maps?

Type the two members of each pair of locations into Google's My Maps (using the names exactly as written on the Wikipedia page linked above) and plot the default coordinates that it generates. Note their latitude and longitude values.

Now calculate the mathematical midpoint between the paired latitude-longitude values - this will be the exact location suggested by your 'hacked' Google Maps!

Halfway between CAY (Caerphilly) & MAN (Manchester) --> 'between the villages of Hope Bowdler and Wall under Heywood in Shropshire';

Halfway between ISL (Islington) & AND (Ards and North Down) --> 'just outside of Harthill village in [Cheshire]'); (NB Not South Yorkshire as per the original question wording...)

Halfway between DUR (Durham County) & HAM (Hampshire) --> 'a few miles east of Dalbury Lees parish in Derbyshire';

Halfway between WAR (Warwickshire) & SAW (Sandwell) --> 'just outside Copt Heath in the West Midlands, by Grand Union canal';

Halfway between KEN (Kent) & NEL (North East Lincolnshire) --> ' just southwest of Little Downham village in Cambridgeshire'.


An example of the general principle:

enter image description here

So, how about that trip to POLAND? Well, consider that:

POLAND can be split into POL (Poole) and AND (Ards and North Down). Working off their respective longitude and latitude, the halfway point between these two lies deep in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales, just north of Rhydymain. Great hiking country - make sure you pack some sturdy boots!

One final diagram showing the entire solution:

enter image description here
- Here, each location pair shares a colour, and their 'hacked' output location is marked with a star of the same colour. The exception is the solution, which is the purple star halfway between the southern purple point (POL) and the northwestern most orange point (AND), which is also part of another pair.

- Note that the green points appear out of line purely due to being zoomed out.

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent! This is almost entirely correct. The final destination is off by about 10-15 miles though...is there a way I might have selected my endpoints a bit more specifically? You may safely assume I know little to nothing about UK geography below the country level (though making this puzzle did teach me a bit). Edit: shoot I thought this was in there...try Google's My Maps, which is a bit different from Google Maps. $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '20 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover Completed! However, I think there is an error in your second pair? By my calculations this should actually result in "Just south-east of Farndon and Holt, on the England-Wales border"... Double-check and see what you think... (This was the reason I made the assumption about a globe rather than a map in my initial solution...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 8 '20 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ D'oh! You're right, Stiv, but it's not exactly the error you posit...just outside Harthill village is correct, but it is the Harthill village in Cheshire, not South Yorkshire. I told you I was ignorant of UK geography :-) You got the location identification completely correct, but rot13(V qerj terng pvepyrf va Zl Tbbtyr Zncf naq hfrq gur zrnfherzrag gbby gb trg gur unysjnl cbvag). But your method is close enough (and smarter than what I did), so checkmark for you! $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '20 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JeremyDover Ah, I see - will correct my text accordingly... Thanks for the excuse to pore over maps! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jul 8 '20 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ Glad it's not just me! :-) $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '20 at 22:19
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Partial Answer(or just a start)
What I found is

All of these places have some sort of village hall or club.
I don't know if it really adds anything.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for upvote, is it great start? How far I am? Pardon me if it didn't added anything since only 5 minutes were given for this thought. $\endgroup$ Jul 4 '20 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Looking for commonalities is very important...but then the next step is to trace them back to specifics. Why does CAYMAN give that particular location, versus one of the others? Keep at it! $\endgroup$ Jul 4 '20 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ Is the knowledge tag here related to history or something? I know there is a history tag on Puzzling SE still please try to reconsider this at once. $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '20 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ You can hover over the tag to see the definition of the tag. The puzzle is tagged accurately; the history tag is not applicable. $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '20 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely got your point, will try my best to get your answer. $\endgroup$ Jul 5 '20 at 4:00
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Another potential start, but searching these places on a map I notice

they all have some kind of associated B road in the with four numbers. B4371 for first, B6059 for second, B5020 for third, and B4104 for last. Maybe the words link with the number in some way.

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Partial (incorrect) answer

My first thought was to convert

the 6 letter words to OS 6 figure grid references.

There were two problems with this:

  1. To make it unique across the UK, an additional 2 letters are used in front of the 6 figure grid reference, and the corresponding letters don't appear in the words.

  2. The 6 figure grid references of the places mentioned don't seem to correlate in any way with the 6-letter words given.

I also briefly considered

phone numbers of businesses listed in the vicinity of the points mentioned, but that didn't match any way I could see, and using such data would seem out of scope for this kind of puzzle anyway.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thinking of references is getting closer. Recommend looking at the hints and tags. Good luck! $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '20 at 14:24

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