Britain’s mountains

Ben NevisBritain is certainly blessed with an enviable pedigree of mountains. Whether it’s the iconic Ben Nevis or majestic Snowdon, England’s Scafell Pike or the rolling Pennines, there’s plenty to behold – and to climb. As such, scaling the peaks of these beasts features on many Brits’ to-do lists, whether they live nearby or at the other end of the country.

So with this in mind, here’s a guide to some of Britain’s most revered mountains: Continue reading “Britain’s mountains”

Celebrate National Parks Week with a walk

If you’d like to take part in this week’s National Parks Week there are heaps of events going on throughout the week with information on their website. If it’s inspiring you to visit one of our spectacular National Parks this week (or at a later date), why not try one of our walks or rides? We’ve compiled our top ten National Parks’ routes from our blog below.

And, if you love using our maps for your outdoors activity – why not enter our competition to become a face of Ordnance Survey? You could take your photos when on one of these walks.

1. Try Kinder Low for a circular walk in the Peak District – and you’ll spot one of our trig points on this walk by Peter Naldrett.

2. If you’re visiting the Welsh gem that is the Brecon Beacons, this popular walk around Storey Arms, Pen-y-fan and the ridge will ensure you have some great views.

3. Go munro-bagging around Driesh and Mayar in the Cairngorms if you find yourself in this lovely Scottish National Park.

4. There are many spectacular walks around the Lake District and this six mile loop around Grasmere and Elterwater is gentle enough to suit most, but still affords some amazing views (below).

5. Bag some more munros in the Trossachs around Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin.

6. If you’re not a fan of mountain climbing and are looking for a flatter experience in a National Park – try the New Forest.  This circular route around Bishop’s Dyke starts and finishes near the Drift Inn too – handy for rewarding yourself at the end!

Continue reading “Celebrate National Parks Week with a walk”

Walk of the week – Hartsop

A guest post by Ordnance Survey’s Gwyn Hughes-Jones

This is a great walk to do on a crisp spring day. It has fantastic views over the Eastern Fells of the Lake District.  This walk is on Explorer map OL6 – The English Lakes North Eastern Area.

The walk starts at Hartsop, a small hamlet in the Patterdale Valley. There is plenty of parking available at Cow Bridge, a short 600m from Hartsop. To start the walk you go through Hartsop and take the right hand fork: this is signposted as a Bridleway up High Street. Stay on the left hand side of the river and follow the path as it starts to climb gently up towards Hayeswater. After 600 metres, cross the river and follow the path around the bottom of Gray Crag. After a kilometre you cross the river again just before reaching Hayeswater.

Once over the river, the path starts to zig zag slightly as you gain height.  The cairn on the Knott can be seen after about a kilometre of easy climbing. This is a great place to stop and appreciate the view towards Hartsop. There is a handy stone wall providing shelter (if required) and a place to rest your flask of tea.

Continue reading “Walk of the week – Hartsop”

A walk around Grasmere and Elterwater

The Lake District is a beautiful area and there are countless different walks to follow to suit walkers of all abilities. When I was there last year, on an unseasonably warm and sunny March weekend, I had a lovely 6-mile walk around Grasmere and Elterwater that I’d like to share with you. There are some spectacular views from high above Grasmere and you also pass a pub or two along the way. You’ll need OS Explorer Map OL7 The English Lakes South-eastern area.

The starting point is Grasmere, a beautiful village to have a stroll round beforehand, or to enjoy a cream tea in afterwards. It was once home to the poet William Wordsworth and you can visit two of his former homes and see the Wordsworth family graves at St Oswalds Church.

The church is the starting point for the walk. With St Oswalds on your right, head along the road, taking the first left onto a small lane. You’ll pass the garden centre car park and should follow the lane for around three quarters of a mile. There are some lovely views over Grasmere as you follow the lane.

Continue reading “A walk around Grasmere and Elterwater”

Looking ahead to the Kendal Mountain Festival

The days are getting shorter and the weather is certainly getting colder but these are not reasons to stop celebrating all that it great about the outdoors. Later this month is the annual Kendal Mountain Festival and today on the Ordnance Survey blog I thought we’d have a look at what is planned.

Running from 17 to 20 November, the Kendal Mountain Festival is one of the largest and most varied outdoor festivals in Europe. It brings together a varied programme of films, lectures and parties with some fantastic names from the outdoors present including Andy Kirkpatrick, Cameron McNeish and Kenton Cool.

The centre point of the festival is the Kendal Mountain Film Festival where over 50 films are screened (from over 200 entries). They are all hoping to be able to walk away with one of the ten awards that are up for offer. Who will win??

The festival really does seem to have something for everyone – no matter what your activity of choice is to enjoy the outdoors. There’s a bike night, snow sports, climbing and endurance sports events to whet the appetite for your own future adventures.

If you’re headed to the festival and planning to go walking – don’t forget your Ordnance Survey maps. You can also plan your trip on OS getamap before you go.

Are you heading for Kendal for the festival? What are you looking forward to the most?

Definitions of fun

Today on the Ordnance Survey blog we’re going to talk about fun. To be more precise we’re going to talk about how you define fun. The idea for this blog stems from a film that I saw at the Keswick Mountain Festival called Type 2 Fun.

Running was just one of the activities in the adidas TERREX adventure race 2010

Running was just one of the activities in the adidas TERREX adventure race 2010

There are three types of fun.

  • Type 1 fun – it’s fun now and will always be fun
  • Type 2 fun – it’s ok at the time – but looking back it was great fun
  • Type 3 fun – it’s not fun now and never will be fun

The film follows the progress of a team participating in the adidas TERREX Adventure Race that took place over the August 2010 bank holiday weekend in Cumbria. If you’re not familiar with what an adventure race is – it’s where teams compete against one another over the space of a few days in a variety of different activities including cross country running, mountain biking, kayaking and orienteering. They can last from a few hours up to ten days – this particular one lasted four days.

Each team of four carried a tracking device with them so that their locations could be tracked using OS OpenSpace – and without this the film could not have been made.

Trying to find an adventure racing team among the Cumbrian fells at any hour of the day or night without OS OpenSpace mapping would be a job more suitable for mountain rescue team than a film unit. The satellite tracking of our team every ten minutes within metres on the ground was invaluable information in planning our shoot and we were able to react to the race developments almost as they happened. It was so easy to check out the website maps from anywhere and the team were virtually glued to the maps all hours of the day and night; a marvelous facility.
Johnnie Walker & Vian Curtis, Bufo Films.

If you can catch the film at one of the Mountain Film Festivals – I can thoroughly recommend it.

Watching the film got me thinking – how do you define fun? What outdoor activities fall into which of the three types for you? For me type 1 fun would be walking along a beach, type 2 fun is running and type 3 would be something like the adventure race that featured in the film – what would your definitions of fun be?

Photograph: BaySearchAnd Rescue on Flickr

Walk of the week – Ullscarf

As this is the week that we’re celebrating all things Lake District – the walk of the week had to be a Lake District one! We have Car Free Walks to thank for this walk.

Our walk today is up Ullscarf

Our walk today is up Ullscarf

For a hill right in the centre of the Lake District, Ullscarf is a bit overlooked – rarely on people’s ‘must do’ lists, and seldom highlighted in walking guidebooks.

Maybe it’s down to trouble with the neighbours. Ullscarf sits in one of the Lakes’ more high-end districts, with Helvellyn, Great Gable, St Sunday’s and Fairfield all nearby and drawing the crowds. But despite Ullscarf’s modest height (726m) and lack of rocky scrambles, this is a fantastic hill with much to offer, not least the stunning views of those well-heeled neighbours. Add it to your ‘must do’ list.

A good way to tackle the hill is via a linear walk from Grasmere to Rosthwaite in Borrowdale – Ullscarf lies in between the two villages. Plan to do the walk car-free – both villages have regular buses to and from Keswick, making the logistics of a linear walk simple. And taking the bus avoids the nightmare that is trying to park in the Lakes in summer.

Distance: 16km / 10 miles
Time: allow 4-5 hours
Public transport: the 555 bus calls at Grasmere; number 78 stops at Rosthwaite on its way to Keswick.
Ordnance Survey Map: OS Explorer Map OL4 and OS Explorer Map OL7: The English Lakes, North-western area and South- eastern area
Starting point: Grasmere village – OS grid reference NY336075

  1. From Grasmere, walk along Easedale Road heading northwest out of the village (there is a footpath along most of the road). At the end, take the footpath signposted to Far Easedale Gill.
  2. The bridleway leads up on to Grasmere Common. Keep heading uphill until you reach the flatter land at Greenup Edge, in the valley between High Raise and Ullscarf.
  3. A line of rusty fence posts points the way to Ullscarf, climbing steadily up the hill’s southern shoulder.
  4. Enjoy the wonderful views at the summit and see how many of the surrounding peaks you can name.

    How many of the surrounding peaks can you name?

    How many of the surrounding peaks can you name?

  5. From the summit, head north over Coldbarrow Fell to join the bridleway that runs west–east, passing Blea Tarn.

    Follow the footpath to Watendlath

    Follow the footpath to Watendlath

  6. Follow this bridleway to Watendlath. From here, drop down via the excellently named Puddingstone Bank into Rosthwaite village. Stop for a drink in the Scafell Hotel before catching the bus home.

Have you walked Ullscarf? Where is your favourite walk in the Lake District?

If you’re going walking in the Lake District – don’t forget to take your Ordnance Survey maps with you!


A day in the life of a surveyor in Cumbria

This week on the Ordnance Survey blog we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Lake District National Park. Today we are going to spend the day with Ant Kewen who is one of our Surveyors and is based in Cumbria.


Ant, how long have you been working with Ordnance Survey?
I joined Ordnance Survey back in 1985 as a Surveyor and worked in Lancashire for 23 years. I’ve been in my current role here in Cumbria for the past 3 years.

Ant doesn't have a bad view on his journey to work does he?

Ant doesn't have a bad view on his journey to work does he?

What is a typical day like for you?
I get up before the rest of the house, have a cup of tea, and put the computer on to check through e-mails. I then decide which area of Cumbria I’m going to work in today. The decision on which jobs to do and where to go are based on high priority work such as Land Registry and high priority jobs based on age and size. I check the weather – it always seems to be raining somewhere in Cumbria but seeing as I have the whole of Cumbria to go to and a choice of jobs that can be done in the rain (such as collecting addresses or reviews), I’m not usually housebound due to the weather. I then double check that I have the data I need – when I return home I usually set this up ready for the following day, then set the SatNav up and off I go. The range of tasks in a typical day can vary from Land Registry Surveys and building sites through to single houses and barn conversions, reviewing planned jobs to assess when they will be ready to survey and collecting and matching addresses. Continue reading “A day in the life of a surveyor in Cumbria”

Happy 60th Birthday to the Lake District National Park

This week on the Ordnance Survey blog we're celebrating 60 years of the Lake District National Park

This week on the Ordnance Survey blog we're celebrating 60 years of the Lake District National Park

This weekend the Lake District National Park (LDNP) celebrated it’s 60th anniversary. Although officially created on 9 May 1951, it didn’t start working as a national park until 13 August of that year. This week on the Ordnance Survey blog we’re going to be celebrating the park and the role that our mapping plays in how the park is used and run. Throughout this week we’ll be hearing from our Surveyor who covers the Lake District, from the park authority themselves on how they use Ordnance Survey data, we’ll have a walk of the week in the Lake District and will look to see who else relies on Ordnance Survey data in the area.

But first – let’s celebrate the LDNP itself. Did you know that … Continue reading “Happy 60th Birthday to the Lake District National Park”

Dry stone walling for dummies

Today we have a guest blog from Chris James of Fix the Fells / Nurture Lakeland.

Chris decided to lend a hand to the dry stone walling team

Chris decided to lend a hand to the dry stone walling team

It was my first attempt at the black art of dry stone walling. Piling rocks on top of each other to build walls. No cement, nothing to bind them except the weight of the rocks and the skill of the waller in linking the intricate shaped rocks into infinite combinations; a 3d jigsaw stretching miles into the distance.

I was spending a morning with a team working for the Fix the Fells project. A charitable organisation which works to repair and maintain upland paths across the Lake District with funding from donations, partners and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Visit their website at www.fixthefells.co.uk to see what they’re up to.

The sun was out in the Lake District and from our wall above the National Trust Basecamp at High Wray we had a stunning view of Windermere and town of Ambleside. A stunning backdrop to the day.

A good ‘waller’ I’m told only picks a rock up once. I’m sorry to say that my time was spent haunted by the appearance of the same rock again and again, taunting me to try my luck and coerce it to fit into gaps which in my mind were a perfect fit but in reality far from it.

There is more to it than just "piling up rocks"

There is more to it than just "piling up rocks"

There was of course much more to it than piling up rocks. The wall is constructed at the base with two lines of larger rocks, the gap between filled with the less aesthetic material, rounded rocks from river beds and loose chippings. The wall itself tapers as it rises to give it stability at the base. The two sides of the wall are strengthened and tied together with ‘through stones’, large lengthy pieces of rock which span one side of the wall to the other and act to tie the two elements and add strength. At the top of the wall, large heavy stones are placed. Their weight giving added stability to the structure.

It's hard work dry stone walling and a rest is well deserved!

It's hard work dry stone walling and a rest is well deserved!

The next time you see a dry stone wall, look for rocks jutting out from the sides of the wall. They are likely to be through stones left slightly proud of the wall face. It is a mark of a well constructed wall and evidence for the person commissioning the work that quality stone and workmanship has been employed in the construction.

At this point I need to apologise for any inaccuracies in my summary of my first attempt at walling. I’m recounting what I remember Jamie from the National Trust, leader of our team, telling me. A very patient person it must be said. I fear that fatigue may have clouded my memory of the process but it was an excellent experience.

Time spent with erudite company and the stunning backdrop of Windermere eased the strain and I will be returning to find my rock and put it firmly in its place.

Have you had a go at dry stone walling? If so – how did you get on?

This year the Lake District National Park is celebrating its 60th anniversary. In August we will be celebrating the park with a series of feature blog articles. For one of these we ask for your input – where is your favourite walk in the Lake District? Share with us your favourite walk and the most popular will feature in our Lake District special walks of the week in August.

If you’re going walking in the Lake District – don’t forget to take your Ordnance Survey maps with you – they’re available now from our online map shop.