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I am looking at a village and want to find the distance from each house (point) to the pagoda (point). However, I want the distance to be measured along a path (which I digitized as a polyline) and not just the closest way (ie a route that follows the road, not just the closest path to the pagoda which includes "cutting through" other property). Hope that makes sense.

I am using ArcMap 10.1.

See image below: I need to find distance to the circled red area. I want the path to follow the blue, not the green.

enter image description here

Any ideas welcomed! Thank you.

PS: I think this would be possible if I did a network analysis (set up a polygon restriction), but this is a rural village and I doubt there is a network dataset available...is it difficult to create one?

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It looks like you already have a network (or prototype - the red lines). If not, you could digitize one if the village is not too large. You could then use linear referencing to locate your points on the route and then derive the appropriate M values for your points. The ESRI documentation is essential reading, especially wrt routes (so you can set the pagoda as the end point).

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