They stand as shining white monoliths and there are 5,500 of them still standing in Great Britain.
And as the nation waves Union Flags aloft during the Jubilee celebrations, spare a thought for a few hardy souls, who are gathering to commemorate the last-used trig pillar in the retriangulation of Britain at Thorney Gale in Westmorland, Cumbria.
Monday, June 4 will mark half a century since this trig pillar was last used, bringing an end to the crucial role of trig pillars in the retriangulation of Great Britain.
Perhaps instantly recognisable to walkers, hikers and geography pupils, the quintessentially British trig pillars were once part of a state-of-the-art network built from 1936, to begin the retriangulation of Great Britain. The task was massive and lasted up until 1962. The benefits of this process we are still reaping today.
If you attended one of our open data masterclasses recently, you could have been in one of the newest cities in the UK. St Asaph in Denbighshire, Wales, was one of three towns given city status to mark this year’s Diamond Jubilee – and was host to one of our masterclasses.
With a population of just 3,500, St Asaph becomes one of the smallest cities in the UK (St Davids is the smallest with a population of around 1,700). Until this year, it was also one of the few British towns with a cathedral that didn’t have city status.
Two other towns also achieved city status this year – Perth, Perthshire and Chelmsford in Essex. Interestingly, Perth was a city until 1975 when their status was removed following a re-jig of Scottish local government. Their city status will be restored this year – although it is unlikely to recover the status lost in 1437 – until which time Perth was the capital of Scotland.
All three diamond jubilee cities boast cathedrals – and Chelmsford’s is the second smallest in England. The new city also has the largest population of the three – with over 165,000 people living in the borough of Chelmsford.
It’s a common misconception in the UK that any town with a cathedral is automatically a city. Neither having a cathedral nor population size dictate city status in the UK; a town must be granted city status by the British monarch at the time.
These three will bring the total number of UK cities to 69. City status is rarely granted – just 14 new cities were created in the 20th century. So far this century, we’ve seen Brighton and Hove, Inverness and Wolverhampton given city status to mark the millennium; and the Golden Jubilee in 2002 was marked by awarding city status to Preston, Newry, Lisburn and Newport.
To mark the occasions, we’ve added the cities in Great Britain, as we’re the national mapping agency for Great Britain, onto our OS OpenSpace map. You can see the full interactive map via our website.
You can see the full list of cities on the UK cities website.
If you’re a Countryfile regular on a Sunday evening, you might recognise our image this week. This amazing new attribute on the Northumberland landscape is the work of renowned artist Charles Jencks and featured on Countryfile back in March. Our Flying Unit recently captured the site with their 196 megapixel camera – although you might wonder how hard it is to capture what is now the world’s largest human form sculpted into the landscape.
A guest blog by Ordnance Survey’s David Roberts
Working for Ordnance Survey has given me a double view and insight into the importance of the completion and opening the Welsh Coastal Path last week. The sheer size of the logistics to successfully launch an ‘e challenge’ to tackle the problems associated with the world’s first coastal path around a Country; and to bring together a nation to walk on it is immense.
The GeoVation Challenge has successfully brought together an extremely diverse range of people from Government through Local Authorities to professional and charity groups, businesses and individuals all with an interest in making the Coast Path a success. With their unique talents, all expressed their thoughts, views, doubts and fears from those early meetings, but shared a real desire and enthusiasm to make it a success; not only for the launch day but for 365 days per year, every year.
To make as many people aware of the opening and get them onto the path, I worked alongside the Welsh Ramblers who led many of the meetings and workshops to ensure success. Through their informative website and electronic map of Wales they showed a growing number of walking groups, their routes, leader contact details and even where the media helicopters were planning to fly for TV coverage. Ordnance Survey has created a giant “walk on map of Wales” using the Explorer 1:25,000 scale and will measure approx 15m x 12m. This map will be available on the opening day in Cardiff and will made available “Free to use” to any organisations who would like to use it in for, demonstrations, functions, education etc.
I also worked with the youth groups of Wales, including Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Scouts & Guides to ensure that all the groups from the youngest upwards are walking, camping or just having fun on the day and were aware that they were part of a historical event for Wales. With around 20,000 Scouts & Guides in Wales, plus those on the Marches, there was much enthusiasm from the Heads of both organisations to organise by County or Area and get the boys and girls involved in relevant activities to celebrate the path. All of these events were fed back to the Welsh Ramblers to be included on their electronic map acting as an information page and historical document. A special badge for Scouts & Guides was also been created for this event and will sit above the Queens Diamond Jubilee Badge.
With three major celebrity openings around Wales in Flintshire, Aberystwyth & Cardiff on the launch day itself, it was an important staging post for Wales and with the right coverage and media we hope it will put us on the map a little bit more firmly and encourage others to visit.
We have the coastline; all we need now is the people to share it with.
There’s been much excitement here at Ordnance Survey about the new Wales Coast Path which will be officially opened this Saturday. Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths will officially open the 870 mile route which runs from the Welsh border near Chester in the North to Chepstow in the South. It features some amazing coastline and takes you the entire length of the stunning coastline. It looks ideal for walkers and holidays and seems destined to become a big tourist attraction. As the World’s first continuous coastal path around a country, it deserves no less!
Members of the public are invited to come along to the opening of this landmark project and take part in a community event which will see local businesses, community groups and children’s entertainers as well as a team from Ordnance Survey who will be running a fun competition to win a fantastic Memory-Map Adventurer 3500 GPS.
With 15 National Trails across our country, coast-to-coast walks and much more you can try out, a walking holiday can be an excellent way to see our beautiful countryside. Whether you’re tackling the 45-mile Norfolk Coast Path or the 630-mile South West Coast Path, there really is a trail, or a section of a trail, that will suit walkers of all abilities.
If you haven’t been on a walking holiday before and are booking it all yourself, follow our handy tips to get you heading in the right direction.
1. Choose your trail and get yourself the right maps for it
The debate between digital and paper maps continues and the two really can complement each other. Your hand-held device will give you an instant location fix and can be easier to hold – but paper maps won’t lose signal or run out of power. Many trails will require a number of Ordnance Survey maps – and there are often specialist providers that cater for it (Harvey produce two strip maps for Wainwright’s coast to coast walk for example). There will also be guides to the trail which can help you to plan.
2. Plan your route
Be realistic about what you can achieve and still enjoy your walking holiday. If you have seven days and want to walk the 184-mile Thames Path, you would probably be better splitting the route in two and covering the second half another time. By all means vary your walks each day – have an easy eight miles one day and then aim for 20 the next day. It would be a good idea to plan the odd rest day to give yourself time to recover and also the opportunity to visit an area a little longer. And make sure that you’re breaking your walks in spots where you can find an overnight stay.
Last week a team of outdoor enthusiasts from the Ordnance Survey Research Department rolled up their sleeves to help the National Trust raise the profile of a newly opened area of the New Forest National Park.
The team were given the challenge to create a huge sign saying ‘Foxbury’ from cut birch logs on a hill side in the New Forest National Park. The hillside sign will publicise the 370 acre area of the New Forest National Park that has been acquired, and is now being managed by, the National Trust. The Foxbury area was formerly a plantation and was about to be turned into landfill when the National Trust stepped in and rescued it. The area is now being restored to heathland and deciduous woodland, and a dedicated recreation space for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
This week I’ve asked Gareth from Webtogs the outdoor retailer to guest post his best tips on gear for heading outside.
One of the questions we most get asked at Webtogs is just what sort of clothing you need to stay comfortable outside so today I am looking at the layering system, what it is, and why its important when you are heading out to do any kind of outdoor activity. Now you may have heard about the layering system before and are wondering just what the devil is it? Simply put, the layering system is a system that enables your clothing to help you remain comfy with whatever variety of conditions that Mother Nature might throw at you. It does this by utilising multiple layers that manage sweat, trap air to keep you warm or protect you from the elements. You can then shed or put on layers based on how hot or cold you are – many thinner layers being better at doing this job than just one thick layer. These layers can be broken down in to three distinct categories to do three very different jobs.
1) Base Layer – Not a position in a choir but the bottom of our layering system that goes next to your skin. It’s job is to get rid of the sweat you produce.
2) Mid layer – This is the bit that delivers the warmth, trapping air and keeping you snug.
3) Shell Layer – The protection from the elements, wind, rain and snow.
It’s time for one of our famous quizzes…this week, following recent media coverage of people not knowing how to read their maps, we’re testing your knowledge of map symbols. How well do you think you know the symbols that appear on our OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps? They are there to help you get the most out of your outdoor experience – whether it’s guiding you to the nearby campsite or helping you to the nearest public house if you need some refreshments on your outdoor adventure!
Depending on what you hope to read about on this blog, you may be interested to know that we are also on Facebook and on Twitter. Our Facebook page tends to have more about our much loved paper maps and is a good place for followers to discuss walks and adventures they are planning. Recently we posed the following question to our Facebook friends:
How much care do you take of your Ordnance Survey maps? Are they a treasured tool or do you use and abuse them? Our team have quite different views with some folding them up neatly and keeping them pristine, while others (me!) scribble over them, highlight the good pubs and make notes about things to remember for next time. And as for folding, well… mine get a bit messy. What about you? We’d love to know how you look after your maps.
What followed was one of the biggest responses to a Facebook question we have had and led us to really think more about how our customers use our paper maps.
The majority of people who responded told us that they tried hard to look after them, keeping them in pristine condition with one or two using fairly unorthodox storage methods (freezer bag anyone?). People also seemed to enjoy having them stacked neatly in a bookcase and seeing the spines lined up neatly.
However the consensus was that they tend to get worn with use, especially if it’s a favourite area, but some recommended the Active series of paper maps which have been laminated to make them showerproof and a little bit more sturdy in the wind. Several admitted to writing on them, using coloured pens to highlight good routes and walks and trimming them to get them into map covers so they could be used without too much wear and tear.