Hands up if you’d like a chance to top up your navigation skills! For the first time we’re holding a National Map Reading Week to help you stay safe when you #GetOutside. From 17-23 October, there will be map reading workshops and a host of fantastic resources, from videos to handy guides, readily available on our site.
Why are we holding a National Map Reading Week?
We always want you to stay safe when you’re out and about exploring Britain, but news stories over the summer talking about an increase in Mountain Rescue callouts started us thinking. While we still sell 1.9 million paper maps each year, we know more and more people rely on GPS devices and apps to navigate, we even have our own app, OS Maps. But – for safety reasons, we would always recommend carrying a paper map, a compass, and knowing how to navigate. It really could be a life-saver.
Hands up if you’re looking for some free family activities over the summer holidays? We thought so…how about a spot of trig bagging to get the family outside? This year we’ve been celebrating the 80th anniversary of the trig pillar, those concrete pillars that are often found at the top of hills and create a handy photo opportunity.
Once a key part of our surveying network, and since superseded by GNSS, they stand tall and mark the summit of many a walk. With around 6,000 still standing around Britain you stand a fair chance of spotting one when you’re out exploring, and you can spot them on your map as the small blue triangle with a dot in the centre.
It’s not every day that we hear from one of our Licensed Partners that they’re about to appear on Dragon’s Den, pitching their map product to the panel. But David Overton of SplashMaps did just that, and we caught up with him last week, ahead of the broadcast. David couldn’t tell us the outcome at the time, but if you watched last night you’ll know that he put in a strong pitch, but sadly didn’t receive any funding. Find out more about SplashMaps and our Partner programme from David…
If you haven’t come across us before, SplashMaps makes wearable, washable, all-weather printed maps that can be customised for any part of Britain, and beyond. We set up in December 2012 with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the idea and used OS OpenData to print the first wearable maps of Britain’s National Parks.
We often talk about safety tips to help you #GetOutside in the winter, but there are some equally important things to think about for summer safety in the great outdoors. More of us are inspired to explore in the summer, and particularly with our families over the summer holidays, so follow these summer safety tips from #GetOutside champion Steve Backshall to keep safe when you’re out and about.
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?
Northumberland National Park are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and volunteer David Wilson is walking the entire length of the National Park, non-stop, later this week to celebrate. On Friday, David will be showcasing the varied landscape of Northumberland National Park throughout his 28-hour trek, following a route created with OS data and being tracked on an OS map embedded on the Park’s website.
David will be setting off from the north of the Park at 7am on Friday 27 May and is hoping to arrive at the Walltown site at the southern-most tip of the Park at 10am on 28 May on his non-stop trek. The final route was created with the help of National Park GIS Officer Ed Hudspeth, using the OS data he has access to. Covering almost 70 miles the route covers stunning areas of the Park, including Yeavering Bell, Newton Tors, Cheviot and Hadrian’s Wall. It also covers the practical areas and takes in places that allow David access to food, water and other supplies.
Psst…did you know you could access OS Maps for free with our seven-day trial? We’re celebrating the full release of our multi-platform map service by giving you the chance to try it out and access maps for the whole of Great Britain.
If you haven’t heard of it before, OS Maps gives casual walkers, ramblers, runners, cyclists, mountaineers and other outdoor adventurers a way to plan and discover Britain. The free app includes our standard and aerial mapping to plot routes on, but with an annual subscription you can unlock a range of extra features – and try them for free for seven days in our trial.
In case you missed it, we’ve been celebrating #TrigPillar80 this week, marking 80 years since the lovely trig pillar was first used to help us map out Britain. Although we no longer need the trig pillar to map the country, now using newer technology, the trig pillar remains as a British icon, guiding the way for explorers of the great outdoors.
#GetOutside and bag a trig pillar
The trig pillar can now be seen in many a photo, showcasing the British countryside and marking the high point of a walk. We asked our #GetOutside champions whether they had a favourite trig pillar to bag when out walking, fell-running and cycling and they came up trumps with some real beauties. From the wonderfully named Doughnot Hill in Scotland, to the Isle of Man to Dartmoor, our champions picked their best spot to bag a trig.
While there are many trig-baggers out there, trig-bagger extraordinaire Rob Woodall completed his 13-year mission to bag all of Britain’s trig pillars last weekend in Fife.
He’s bagged 6,190 trig pillars in that period, a seriously impressive achievement. We joined his final trig-bagging expedition to Benarty Hill and awarded him a mounted flush bracket to mark the moment.
Back in January we advertised our 2016 map trade-in scheme, encouraging you to return your old and out-dated maps to us and in return, our Map Shop sent out vouchers for money off any new map purchases. It was a phenomenal success – and our Customer Service team are still processing returns – but we think we’ll have received around 35,000 maps! That compares to 10,000 returned in a similar scheme in 2014.
We knew that outdoors enthusiasts could build up impressive collections of OS maps (did you see the chap on the Timeshift documentary last year with thousands of maps?), but we have been overwhelmed with the number being returned.