Did you watch ITV’s Countrywise on Friday night? If you tuned in, you’ll have seen Ben Fogle being an honorary surveyor as it became Scafell Pike’s turn for a re-measure. It marked the finale of the re-measurement of Scotland, Wales and England’s famous three mountain highs – Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike.
G&J Surveys, the team that has made a hobby of measuring the heights of hills and mountains, is ten years old. And the Database of British and Irish Hills (DoBIH) celebrates its 15th birthday this year. John Barnard from G&J Surveys tells us why the two are linked and how they’ve been celebrating.
DoBIH was founded by Graham Jackson and Chris Crocker as a personal tool to help them log their own hill ascents. However, over the years DoBIH evolved into something much bigger with six editors and many hillwalkers supplying data. DoBIH log ten-figure grid references for the summits of hills and found that summit positions are not always so clearly known to warrant this level of accuracy. So G&J Surveys came into existence.
You’re thinking OS already measure the hills and mountains aren’t you? And they do. In moorland and mountain areas, OS generally use aerial photographs which measures heights to an accuracy of +/-3m. This means that the maps that are superbly fit for purpose if you’re out walking or climbing or cycling, but it can result in Corbetts suddenly becoming Munros! With the increasing popularity of hill bagging, the accuracy of hill lists was becoming more important.
If you were watching BBC Breakfast this morning, you may have seen their reporter, Graham Satchell, heading out with our Flying Unit and finding out how we survey Britain from the skies.
We’ve actually 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 keep on top of the data capture process – making continuous revisions of the whole nation’s landscape.
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.
Update: Now available in the OS Shop
It’s been almost a year since we created a series of downloadable colouring-in maps, and we’re thrilled to be able to tell you that there’s a book of OS maps to colour being released this autumn. We teamed up with Laurence King Publishing to work on the new book, The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain.
The book will take you on an immersive colouring-in journey around Great Britain, from the coasts and forests to our towns and countryside. Expect to see iconic cities, recognisable tourist spots and historical locations across England, Scotland and Wales via the 55 illustrations. The Great British Colouring Map also includes a stunning gatefold of London. We can’t wait to share it with you – it will be on shelves in October.
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?
On 18 April 1936 a group of surveyors gathered around a white concrete pillar in a field in Cold Ashby and began the retriangulation of Great Britain. That trig pillar is still standing 80 years on, along with thousands more around the country. We’re celebrating by sharing the story of the humble trig pillar, still much loved by walkers today, and giving you the chance to join our celebrations with The Trig Pillar Trail Challenge.
Cold Ashby photo by Bridgeman via Trigpointing UK, a great site for all things trig
What is a trig pillar?
As the original closing date was close to half-term for many schools, we’ve now extended to 30 June.
We’ve teamed up with EDINA for an exciting competition featuring Digimap for Schools and our #GetOutside champion Steve Backshall. Combining geography, wildlife and photography, it’s a fantastic opportunity for primary school children.
The #wildlifemap competition
We’re still best known for our iconic paper maps, but in actual fact, over 90% of our business comes from digital data. Data that supports Britain’s economy and is used by government and business across the country and beyond. To collect, produce and deliver this digital data, we’ve built a talented team of people, from the more traditional OS roles of surveyors collecting location information and cartographers who produce our maps; to software engineers, designers, product managers, user experience architects, data managers and more. We were thrilled to see one of our teams recognised recently in the Real IT Awards Operational Efficiency Category Shortlist. We caught up with Keith Watson, Agile Delivery Manager, to find out more.
— Matthew Skelton (@matthewpskelton) 11 February 2016
It’s close to 170 years since OS officially confirmed Ben Nevis as Britain’s highest mountain. It’s nearly 70 years since we carried out the last full survey back in 1949. Now we know in 2016 that the surveyors of a bygone age were just centimetres out in their calculations – testament to their extraordinary efforts and application.
In 1949 theodolites and other antiquities of surveying were the best friends of those mapping every nook and cranny of the British landscape. Now highly refined measuring devices, linked to an intricate network of land stations and a sky-full of satellites (yes up to 15 Russian, American and European ones) have been used to re-check the height of the mountain taking three surveyors just two hours to gather what it took an expeditionary force of surveyors 20 days to complete.