Guest blog by John Barnard & Graham Jackson, G&J Surveys
The most popular list of mountains in Scotland are the Munros and “Munro bagging”, that is climbing all the mountains within the list, has become a goal for many hillwalkers. This list was first compiled by Scottish Mountaineering Club (SMC) member Sir Hugh Munro and printed in the Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal in 1891. Until then it was not known how many mountains in Scotland exceeded 3,000 feet and the list caused quite a stir. The principal mountains on the list became known as Munros and since the publication of the list almost 6,000 people have recorded their ascents of all the Munros. There have been numerous revisions to the list since then, mostly through improvements to mapping and survey techniques, and the number of Munros currently stands at 282.
We recently celebrated our 225th anniversary and shared with you two new maps created by our Cartographic Design team. Chris and Charley took inspiration from map styles in our history and used current OS data to recreate the look and feel. Charley chose a 1960s map of the Western Highlands of Scotland. We catch up with him to find out how he went about the challenge.
Each year everyone at OS has the chance to nominate, and then vote for, a corporate charity which the organisation then supports for the next 12 months. This year we selected Solent Mind, local to our Southampton head office, as the corporate charity, and fundraising is already underway. In addition, our regional field teams can nominate and support a charity local to them. Each of us also has the opportunity to take a volunteer day, to support our corporate charity, or any other charity of our choice.
This year, we’ve already seen a wide range of activities as teams and individuals get involved in fundraising activities, or taking their volunteer days to give something back to local communities. Take a look at some of the recent activities:
Last month a team of 10 Scottish Region surveyors cycled from Bowling to Grangemouth, 35 miles, along the Forth Clyde Canal towpath. The team were fundraising for Scottish Mountain Rescue and Cancer Research UK.
By David Henderson, Director of Products
It’s been 225 years since OS was founded and 215 years since we published our first map. I’m not sure if we could work out how many cumulative square miles we’ve surveyed in that time, but I do know there are a few highlights in our history that really stand out for me and for my cartography colleagues too.
With that in mind, this is my own top 10 of mapping moments that have recorded our nation’s evolving landscape, and helped us become the trusted geospatial partner we are today:
1801 map of Kent
Our first map. We wouldn’t be here without it. Ordnance Survey’s original purpose was to create a map that would help our military to defend and protect a nation. England’s most south-easterly county, Kent, was the area most vulnerable to French invasion, so that was our subject – highlighting the county’s communication routes, and including elaborate hill shading to interpret the landscape precisely for those men at arms.
In time, this military focus would soften. Wider audiences came to appreciate and use our work. But our attention to detail has always been an asset to the armed forces: we printed 33,000,000 maps during World War I and an astonishing 342,000,000 for World War II. It wasn’t until 1983 that the last military personnel left OS, making us a wholly civilian organisation, and the War Department’s broad arrow remained in the OS logo for 21 years afterward as a nod to our military past.
Early leisure maps
Think of OS maps and many people think of OS Explorer and OS Landranger, with their familiar orange and pink covers. After World War I, we marketed OS maps to a new wave of outdoor enthusiasts. A professional artist produced eye-catching covers for our one-inch maps and Ellis Martin’s classic designs boosted those sales. The iconic drawings are still popular today.
Experimental maps were produced just after World War II, with the idea that students could use them to learn about geography, and by the 1970s we’d purposefully published our first Outdoor Leisure map. These early publications defined the maps we publish now to help people #GetOutside – there are 607 paper maps in the Explorer and Landranger series, all with a digital download.
We’ve been using aerial photography to carry out our surveys for almost 100 years. Originally, this had the advantage of capturing information from areas that surveyors found hard to visit on foot. Today, it means we can on top of the data capture process – making continuous revisions of the whole nation’s landscape – and it may not be long before we’re surveying from the air with a range of unmanned aerial vehicles too.
Last week we celebrated our 225th anniversary and shared with you two new maps created by our Cartographic Design team. Chris and Charley took inspiration from map styles in our history and used current OS data to recreate the look and feel. Chris chose early 19th century OS maps and decided to recreate the urban environment of London. We catch up with him to find out how he went about the challenge.
Tell us about the map era that you chose
Did you know we’re 225 years old today? On 21 June 1791, the Board of Ordnance purchased a Ramsden theodolite, now seen as the foundation of OS, to survey Britain and protect from a French invasion. Ten years later we published the first OS map of Kent and have continued to map the country and provide data for Great Britain (and beyond – did you see the Mars map?) ever since. What better way to celebrate than with two new maps, created in a historic style?
Guest blog by Tony Payne
The map on the right shows all the hills in the Cotswolds with over 14% gradient. I created it using a range of OS OpenData products and you can see the original in Google Maps here.
Hill Quest – origins
I’m a keen road cyclist, and regularly ride with the Cheltenham and County Cycling Club. A fellow club member, Simon Boswell, announced his ‘Hill Quest’ – a quest to ride all the hills over 14% in the Cotswolds (14% being a single chevron on OS maps).
Simon had found around 140 hills by sitting down with his OS maps and looking for chevrons. I volunteered a corresponding ‘armchair quest’ to identify them by a database query. The resulting map has nearly 600 hills – more than enough to keep Simon quiet over the summer.
Zooming in on the map, each hill is identified with details such as maximum gradient and total climb. Hills are shown in green, with the 14% sections highlighted in red with a marker showing the start of the steep section.
Hill Quest – progress
Most of us are reliant on a GPS in our day to day life – whether it’s following the reassuring voice directing us around a traffic jam or grabbing our phone for a quick check that we’re walking in the right direction in a new city. Many now rely solely on GPS for navigating in the hills too. But what happens when GPS fails? It’s something that walkers near Benbecula are likely to experience next month…
Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system owned by the US government. GPS was originally intended for military use, but in the 1980s the government made the system available for civilian use. GPS will work in most weather (although space weather can impact – see our previous blog on solar flares), across the world, 24/7. Something that we all benefit from today.
However, the military can (and do) jam GPS signals for their own priorities, such as military exercises. The communications watchdog Ofcom issued a warning recently about GPS jamming due to take place for periods between 1 and 29 July while aircraft crews train over a military range on Benbecula. In these circumstances, would you be able to navigate?
Whether you’re planning some gentle rambles with the family, dipping your toe into the world of navigation for the first time, or looking for a serious #GetOutside challenge, chances are that OS can help you along the way. We have a whole host of tools, products and services, many of them brand new, to make your #GetOutside adventure easier.
New Three Peaks Challenge map
Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon attract around 700,000 visitors each year with 30,000 of those visiting to complete the Three Peaks Challenge. Most challengers are aiming to climb England, Scotland and Wales’ highest three peaks in 24 hours, generally timing their walks between April and October each year.
To lighten the load, we’ve worked with the Three Peaks Partnership to create the Three Peaks Challenge map to make it easier, safer and more enjoyable for individuals to take part in the Challenge. Using our OS Explorer map data, the map is divided into four areas, three sections mapping the peaks and the fourth section is a road map covering all three locations. The map provides challengers with all the mapping they need in one place. Rather than carrying three maps, only one is needed and it includes a recommended route, plus co-ordinates for the start of the routes. Find out more on our website.