As expert map readers will know, when you’re out and about navigating with a compass, there is a difference between magnetic north (where the compass points) and grid north (the vertical blue grid lines shown on OS maps). And if you’re exploring in the west of Great Britain, there is a change to be aware of…
The difference between magnetic north and grid north is often referred to as grid magnetic angle and it not only varies from place to place, but changes with time too, and needs to be taken into account when navigating with a map and compass.
In 2014 there was a significant event in the changing direction of magnetic north relative to grid north on OS maps. For the first time in Great Britain since the 1660s, magnetic north moved from being to the west of grid north to the east. The change started in the very south west corner of Britain, currently affects the areas to the west of the line on our map, and will slowly progress across the whole country over the next 12 to 13 years.
Our OS Maps users created over 300,000 public routes across Great Britain in 2018 (covering some 2,950,000 miles…) and we were curious to see where you most (and least) enjoy exploring. Our Data Scientist Andrew Radburn set to work analysing the data before our Data Visualisation expert Charley Glynn set to work to showcase the results.
Analysing OS Maps route data
OL17, our OS Explorer map for Snowdon is being launched today with a brand new cover, following a photo competition to be on the cover of the map. Amy Pennington from Cheltenham took the winning photo which now features on our best-selling map.
Our Snowdon map is consistently a top-seller and the area often features as the area with the most routes plotted in OS Maps too. With Wales’ tallest mountain to scale and the stunning Snowdonia National Park surrounding it, it’s easy to see why the area is so popular. The National Park was the third created in Great Britain, in 1951, following the National Parks Act in 1949, 70 years ago.
We decided to replace the map cover as it was due for a reprint, and after the success of our huge OS Photofit map cover competition in 2015, decided to open it up to the public and GetOutside fans again. We had a tough job choosing the winner, but Amy’s photo really captured the year-round beauty of the mountains.
A huge thank you to everyone who has visited the OS blog over the last 12 months and been keeping up to date on all things maps and data. We’ve totted up the figures to work out your favourite blogs from 2018…so take a look and catch up on any you missed first time around.
Great Britain’s largest islands
The stunning poster created by Joe Harrison in our GeoDataViz team, working with the University of Sheffield, showcases the 82 islands of Great Britain which are larger than 5km2. It also created wide debate about what was and wasn’t an island and even what is Great Britain!
We want to get one million people across Great Britain active outdoors on Sunday 30 September for the first ever National GetOutside Day. It’s a part of ukactive’s European Week of Sport which sees a huge range of events taking place nationwide in a mission to improve the health of the nation by getting more people, more active, more often.
Throughout the day, free events are taking place all over Great Britain, including two organised walks led by OS GetOutside ambassadors Ben Fogle, Kenton Cool, Sean Conway and Mel Nicholls. Plus events hosted by OS GetOutside Champions, self-guided walks, or you can create your own events with our free pack.
It’s really important that everyone can get involved, whether you live in the town or the countryside. You can head to your local park, walk along the river, follow an urban sculpture train, try out a new cycle route, or whatever works for you.
Tune into ITV at 7.30pm on Tuesday 30 January to see the nation’s favourite 100 walks revealed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland*. Alongside National Trust and The Ramblers, we teamed up with ITV last year to encourage outdoors enthusiasts to vote for their favourite walks, and now the results are set to be revealed.
Over two and a half hours, presenters Julia Bradbury and Ore Oduba will showcase rambles, scrambles and ambles across the UK’s cities, countryside and coastline. We’re extremely pleased to say that four of our GetOutside champions will also be featuring in the programme, accompanying Julie and Ore on their walks. Look out for Two Blondes Walking in their favourite environment, Dartmoor; Zoe Homes (AKA Splodz) in Scotland; Phoebe Smith, wild camper and extreme sleeper; and the Get Out With the Kids family tackling the Chilterns.
Whether it’s a jar of jam or chutney, a book or something crafty, research revealed 9 out of 10 of us say the most important part of a gift is the time and effort that goes into it, as opposed to the cost.
Corrine Sweet, Author and Psychologist, said: “Nothing stays in the memory and mind more than important experiences and beautiful images – especially when they celebrate our hobbies. Something personalised means ‘I know you and want to make you smile’ and a custom-made map reflects good times in your life.”
Whether it’s people buying the essential maps and outdoor equipment to help them enjoy the great outdoors, or searching for the perfect gift, our online store is attracting shoppers from around the world. The shop, which opened in 1999, has sold items to people in 40 countries, including Panama, Madagascar, Mexico, Sierra Leone and Guatemala. That’s around 20% of the countries around the world!
The green shading denotes the countries who have bought from the OS shop this year
We all know that getting outside for a walk is great for both our physical and mental well-being, but did you know that having a good belly-laugh can provide another boost to wellness? We’re supporting Solent Mind as our corporate charity, raising funds to support better mental health, so the prospect of a charity comedy gig with a map theme during #NationalMapReadingWeek was irresistible.
Comedy performer Helen Wood came to our attention this summer, when she was performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as Helen’s show explored one of her passions, OS maps. The eight performances of ‘The OS Map Fan Club’, were sold out at Edinburgh.
Helen is performing her solo show at our Southampton head office on Monday 16 October at 7pm. Space is limited, so booking is necessary, and attendees are asked to make a minimum donation of £5 on the night to gain access. To reserve your place email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Tim Newman, Consumer Product Manager
For over a decade, OS has been active in the field of augmented reality – proving the concept back in 2006 with a thought-leading paper on Mobile Augmented Reality, and more recently prototyping 3D maps of Mars, and creating a navigation app for a Shoreditch basement. We’re now really excited to be using this augmented reality technology to introduce a new feature for OS Maps.
The recently released AR feature will help users learn about their surroundings by labelling and categorising the features around them, finally overcoming the big limitation of maps on mobile: the small screen. Have you ever looked out over a stunning vista and found yourself struggling to identify a hill or work out how far it was to the town below you? Now you can simply hold up your smartphone to find out what you’re looking at and how far away it is. If a place catches your interest, just tap on the label to find out more about it.
This fun and informative new feature was made possible by combining sensor data from the phone with OS data of over 200,000 hills, mountains, coastal features, lakes, settlements, transport hubs and areas of woodland. As a company of data experts, it’s fantastically rewarding to make use of our data to help make the outdoors more enjoyable, accessible and safe. This is what motivates the team and, combined with the great feedback we get from users, drives us to continue improving OS Maps – so keep your eyes peeled for the next bunch of features we’re working on to make it easier than ever to plan your time outdoors. There’s never been a better time to open up OS Maps and GetOutside!
To find out more about AR head to https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/ar/.
Stay tuned to the blog to learn from Layla Gordon in the tech labs team about how it works and the exciting projects that she’s developing with augmented reality.