Vegetation map symbols

We recently came across a blog about the Ordnance Survey map symbols for rough grassland, heath and bracken and thought it would be helpful to give you an explanation on their use. Please head to the bottom of this blog to see all the symbols.

Originally bracken, rough grassland and heath were shown as separate symbols (1. bracken, 2. rough grassland  and 3. heath).  In 1976 bracken and rough grassland were amalgamated so there was just one symbol to indicate land being covered by rough grassland or bracken – it was made up of elements of both the symbols so it had some rough grass in it and some bracken (4).  Where space was tight a smaller symbol was also made incorporating both vegetation types (5).

The map symbols in the (6) legend  are shown in the following order; top left is the new amalgamated symbol for bracken and rough grassland, top right is the old bracken symbol. Bottom left is old rough grassland symbol and bottom right the heath symbol.  The heath symbol was not changed and has stayed the same.  The old symbols for bracken and rough grassland remain in the legend because there are still some sheets that have the old style individual bracken and rough grassland symbols.  The symbols were only updated on the mapping if there was a change in vegetation category so there are still large areas of old style vegetation shown on the mapping.

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Ordnance Survey could solve South Downs debate

On 12 November 2009, the South Downs were confirmed as a National Park by Hilary Benn, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  It took some years to decide on the boundary of the park and several revisions were made.

South Downs Way sign post

South Downs Way sign post

The first designation was in 2000 and the final report was submitted in 2008 after several disputes over which towns should be included in the National Park. The park stretches from the eastern edge of Winchester in the west, up to Binsted in the north and in a south-easterly direction Beachy Head near Eastbourne is the boundary.

Now a new dispute over which town is at the very centre of the park has begun.

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We’ve extended our transport network dataset with urban paths

Great Britain’s roads are now busier than ever before and increasingly we’re all being encouraged to use our cars less often. That’s especially true here at Ordnance Survey where we’re being encouraged to car share or cycle once we move to our new head office.

And any visitor to London will immediately see evidence of the hundreds of thousands of pounds that have been invested in ‘Boris’ Bikes’ across the capital. The good news of course is that walking and cycling more not only helps reduce our carbon emissions but also improves your fitness and saves money on petrol.

So, to do our bit, we’ve extended our transport network dataset, OS MasterMap Integrated Transport Network (ITN) Layer, to feature paths for pedestrians and cyclists across every major population centre in the country.

A sample of our new Urban Paths theme

A sample of our new Urban Paths theme

That’s a total of 58,077 kilometres of walkways, the equivalent of seven times around the coastline of Britain!

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Five ‘must visit’ pubs

For many, hiking in Great Britain goes hand in hand with a pint of ale in a country pub. Wherever you are in this country you are never far from an Inn serving cold beer and a ploughman’s! I recently read about the remotest pub in Britain being put up for sale so I thought I’d round up a few of the interesting, famous and ‘must visit’ pubs across the country.  Whether you’re a hiker, cyclist or simply like to sample local ales, you should seek out the following pubs and hostelries.

The Old Forge – Inverie, Knoydart, Scotland.
This pub is the most remote in Great Britain and can only be access by an 18 mile hike over munros or a 7 mile sea crossing – but it’s well worth the journey. The pub started life as a smiddy’s forge before it became a workers social club. The pub is currently up for sale if you fancy becoming a publican in a pub that’s miles from anywhere!

Jamaica Inn – Bolventor, Cornwall
Made famous by  Daphne du Maurier’s novel by the same name, this old coaching inn is now a museum and hotel where ghost hunters can learn about the smugglers that used to pass through. Bodmin Moor is close by, adding to the mystery and intrigue offered at this inn.

The Old Smith’s Arms – Godmanstone
This is said to be the smallest pub in Great Britain. The story goes that Charles II stopped at a blacksmiths forge where he asked the smithy for a glass of porter and granted him a license to sell beer and porter. The bar measures 20ft. x 10ft, perfect for a cosy pint after a winter walk!

The Old Smith's Arms -

The Old Smith’s Arms –

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks – St Albans
One of several pubs that claim to be the oldest in Great Britain, this pub is currently in the Guiness Book of Records with some parts of the building dating back to the 11th century. It was originally used as a pigeon house which is why it has an interesting octagonal shape.

The Tan Hill Inn – Yorkshire
The Tan Hill Inn is on the Pennine Way and is Britain’s highest pub standing on a lonely spot 1,732ft above sea level. The pub is said to be haunted by Mrs Peacock who ran it for 40 years. It is surrounded by unspoilt moorland in the Yorkshire Dales.



Up, up and away at Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

The 2010 Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is underway this weekend – fingers crossed for the weather – and it’s reminded me about the old Ordnance Survey balloons.

We had two that I know of from 1999 onwards: the first lasted for three years before retiring to a ballooning museum. During its brief life, it was very active: visiting 250 schools in Scotland, England and Wales; attending 50 balloon festivals; being seen in six TV documentaries; and playing an integral part in the world record for the highest landing zone for a parachutist. Read More


Revealing Britain’s ‘lost’ generation

With the summer holidays well underway, lots of us are looking forward to loading up the car and hitting the road.

But a survey we carried out of just over 2000 people reveals that while the children in the back seat are screaming “are we nearly there yet?” millions of us will be driving round in circles.

On the road to nowhere

On the road to nowhere

Our results show that two thirds of the population admit to regularly getting lost, a figure that soars to nearly eight out of ten in London, and that 38% of us Brits pretend to know where they are going even when we’ve got no idea!

However, while most people agree that maps are the best way of pinpointing a destination, lots of us are relying on out-of-date information.

A quarter of the population are using traditional paper maps which are at least a year old, whilst the four out every ten that are using a sat nav admit to having never updated the mapping it uses.

In the event of then getting lost, half of the people we questioned were happy to ask someone on the street for help, but since almost 60% admitted to having unintentionally given incorrect directions it is no wonder so many people end up spending their summer holidays in location limbo!

Interestingly, the research also reveals that the most reliable person to ask for directions is a man aged over 55 from the north east of England, whereas Scots are statistically twice as likely (8%) to deliberately give a driver wrong directions than the national average!

We make and average of 5,000 changes every day to our OS MasterMap database which helps to underpin everything from paper maps and satellite navigation to the emergency services and your bin collections.

Who's hoarding their maps?

Who’s hoarding their maps?

So with the sheer number of changes happening to the geography of our country, it’s probably not surprising that people do get lost.

The simple answer to all this is that everyone should plans their summer holiday get-away using the most up-to-date mapping available, whether it’s the paper or digital variety. And maybe you should think twice about asking a Scot for directions… Just joking!

Oh, and the study also backs up traditional stereotypes, showing that women are less likely to consult a map, whereas men feel uncomfortable asking for directions.

So is Britain really a nation that doesn’t know where it’s going?


A history of the OS Landranger map

The OS Landranger map is well loved by all outdoor enthusiasts. Its history, as the leisure map to use for planning days out and activities extends back many years and several generations have relied upon on ‘the pink map’ for their active pursuits.

OS Landranger - Barrow in Furness

OS Landranger – Barrow in Furness

The following describes the background and series specification of this famous Ordnance Survey map, from the early days, through metrification to today.

The history of the OS Landranger map goes back to 1791 when a One-Inch military map of the County of Kent was commenced. Published in 1801, the map of Kent was followed by a map of the County of Essex in 1803. The remainder of England and Wales, including the Isle of Man was completed by 1873; Scotland was completed in 1887. These sheets were printed in monochrome only, with coloured editions being started in the late 1800’s.

These were followed by a number of series with different formats and specifications. In 1945 the New Popular Sixth Series was started, each sheet covering an area of 40 x 45 km and incorporating the National Grid.

A Seventh Series was authorised in 1947 with the first sheets being published in 1952. These sheets were printed in ten colours but in 1962, for economic reasons, the number of colours was reduced to six. The Seventh Series comprised 189 sheets.

Metrication of Ordnance Survey map series to meet the Government metrication programme was introduced in 1965 and necessitated replacing the One Inch Seventh Series. Consultations with map users plus technical and economic factors resulted in the scale of 1:50 000 being chosen.

It was not possible to produce a completely redrawn series in the desired time scale so an interim 1:50 000 First Series was produced. The Series was compiled from photographic enlargements of One Inch Seventh Series material, assembled into a 40 x 40 km format, partially revised and printed in 6 colours.

The 1:50 000 First Series of 204 sheets was published in two blocks, the southern half of the country in 1974 and the northern half in 1976.
The conversion of First Series sheets to Second Series began in 1974 and was completed in 1987. Additions included metric contours as well as tourist and Forestry Commission information.

The early Second Series sheets were printed in six flat colours but later produced from a range of four process colours, black, cyan, magenta and yellow.

In 1980, tree symbols, depiction of foreshore categories and grid numbers on the body of the map were included in the specification. At the same time the name Landranger was adopted for the series.

The need for automation of production was recognised from a study in 1991 and a project was initiated in 1993 to establish requirements for maintaining the integrity and quality standards of the Second Series.

Following a production trial in 1994 on Sheet 95 that evaluated production methodology, performance results and flowline implications, the decision was made to proceed with conversion of all Landranger sheets to data format.’

And so, the OS Landranger we use today was born. This series covers the whole of Great Britain in 204 maps and provides all the detailed information you need to get to know an area.

If you’d like to browse the full series of OS Landranger maps or find out more, you can visit our map shop.


The Geograph project – submit your photos!

Sponsored by Ordnance Survey, the Geograph Britain and Ireland project aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland. The project, which has been contributed to by 10 019 users is now made up of 1 935 225 images covering 256 701 grid squares, or 77.4% of the total. That’s a lot of photographs!

According to the site, a good Geograph presents images and information on the main human and physical geographical feature(s) present in any given Ordnance Survey 1km grid square. The images on the Geograph site show towns, cities, streets, buildings, countryside, people, boats, cars and more. They capture the everyday landscape of Great Britain and contribute to a valuable open source project, which is free from commercial exploitation.

The images that follow show the type of photographs that can be submitted.

Geograph contribution - The Stroma sets sail for Lossiemouth

Geograph contribution – The Stroma sets sail for Lossiemouth, by Des Colhoun

The great thing about Geograph is that anyone can get involved. It is intended that people will see it as a game or project and a chance to get out more. Either select an area that has not yet been captured or add to an already populated area with new images. The site shows statistics including a leaderboard to show who has submitted the most photos, so if you’re keen you’ll see exactly how well you’re doing. The current leader has submitted 480 images.

Geograph contribution - The View NNW to the Malvern Hills

Geograph contribution – The View NNW to the Malvern Hills, by Pauline Eccles

If you enjoy photography and would like to get involved with this project then why not log in to see what it’s all about There’s still plenty of opportunity to add your own images to this growing database.


Surveying one of Snowdonia’s highest mountains

Over the past year or so, I’ve been working with a group people who are on a quest to rewrite the map of Great Britain.

John Barnard, Graham Jackson and Myrddyn Phillips have been tirelessly climbing some of the country’s most famous peaks and measuring their heights using state-of-the-art GPS equipment.  In doing so they have helped create mountains where once there were mere hills, and vice versa of course!

Their latest expedition takes them to Snowdonia and one of Wales’ most iconic mountains.

This is their story:

“One of the most spectacular mountains in Snowdonia – Tryfan – may be suffering from delusions of grandeur.  With a 915 metre (3,002 ft) map height, it is close to one of Britain’s historically important benchmark heights, that of 3,000 ft.

Since there is a +/-3 metre (+/-10 ft) margin of uncertainty associated with the surveying method that determined this height (using aerial photographs), it means that Tryfan might not be a 3,000 ft mountain at all.

Tryfan, viewed by many as iconic, rises above the Ogwen Valley, its profile dominating the surroundings.  Its crowning glory is its summit, which comprises two monolithic blocks of rock, known as Adam and Eve. They are separated by just enough daunting space to tempt the occasional “fearless” scrambler to clamber atop and jump from one to the other!

At the summit

At the summit

It is our intention in the latter half of June to resurvey Tryfan and determine if this mountain is in fact over 3,000 ft high. Our surveying activities have stemmed from our quest to improve the accuracy of hill-related data within the Database of British Hills, a database available on the internet which contains details of over 6,500 hills.

It’s also fun to bring an activity based on measurement science into a realm such as hill walking.  Moreover, there is the opportunity to take in the beauty of our much varied upland landscape while awaiting the GPS equipment to gather data!

Gathering data

Gathering data

This project is taking place in conjunction with the Snowdonia Society and also with involvement from Paul Beauchamp and Mark Greaves of Ordnance Survey.

The announcement to resurvey Tryfan was broadcast by the BBC on 15 March, who along with ITV and an independent production group, CREAD, all want to join us at the summit on the day of the survey.

We decided it would be wise to conduct a reconnaissance in order to work out exactly, at our leisure, how we would survey Tryfan!  This would save us time on the actual day of the survey as solutions to any problems would already have been found.

The day of reconnaissance was clear and sunny, but with a biting wind from the North West. We strapped the equipment to one of the blocks, checked that it remained stable and made sure that satellite signals could be received satisfactorily. All we have to do now is repeat this procedure, but this time gathering the minimum of 2 hours of data required for Ordnance Survey verification whilst being filmed doing so.  No pressure there then!

Will Tryfan remain a 3,000 footer?  Keep checking the Ordnance Survey Blog for the answer!

For those interested in ‘The Tryfan Project’ you can now follow its progress on YouTube.

John Barnard, Graham Jackson, Myrddyn Phillips”