You may have heard us saying that there are over 500,000 routes in our OS Maps service…well, we’ve been analysing all of that data to look at which areas you most like to #GetOutside and explore. We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most popular grid squares in Britain, using 10 years of public routing data compiled in OS Maps and its predecessors.
We’re thrilled to be a partner at the Keswick Mountain Festival on 14-17 May. Taking place in the heart of the Lake District the packed programme includes speakers like Ray Mears and Alastair Bownlee, music from Mercury Prize winner Badly Drawn Boy and a host of guided activities including MTB biking, hiking, canoeing, navigation training, ghyll scrambling, climbing and so much more. There’s something for all the family with kids activities, food stall and exhibitors on site at Crow Park too.
We’ll have a stand at the event all weekend and you’ll be able to drop by and find out the latest news on our paper and digital maps to help guide you around the Lake District and the rest of Britain. We’ll also have a map fun zone to ensure all those budding geographers can be kept entertained. And – there’ll be a great competition for you to enter too!.
If you want to learn how to make the most of your maps, make sure you get tickets for one of our navigation workshops. We’ll be holding two over the weekend, taking place in the Adventure Tipi area, giving you all the tips you need to explore the outdoors with confidence.
The Festival Village is free to enter during the day, but if you really want to make the most out of the Festival Village, you can get free unlimited taster activities, including Adventure Tipi talks, with the purchase of a Festival Weekend ticket – and you receive 10% off all sporting events, activities and speakers – and of course you can stay for the evening and listen to the fantastic music line-up. Don’t forget to book your camping lot if you’re planning on staying over too.
We have 10 pairs of weekend passes to give away – all you need to do is tell us the number of our OS Landranger map for Penrith & Keswick. Just send us your answer on the blog before midnight on Sunday 19 April. We’ll pick the winners at random from all of the correct entries. Competition Ts and Cs here.
To find out more about the great line-up, visit: http://www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk/
The bright lights of big city living are a huge attraction to many, but those of us who want stars in our eyes find them a little frustrating. In today’s permanently switched-on world, it can be hard to spot exactly what’s out there when we gaze into the night sky; so many people don’t even bother.
Look a little harder, though, and you’ll find there are dozens of amazing locations in Britain to set up your telescope and get starry-eyed. The UK contains some of the darkest skies in the world, so where should you go if you want a view of the entire solar system?
Where better to start than with officially the darkest place in England? The dense skies above the area comprising Kielder Water and Forest Park, Kielder Observatory and Northumberland National Park were recognised as the darkest by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). Moreover, the location is one of only six to have been awarded ‘Dark Sky Status’ by the International Dark Skies Association (some others featured in this list have the same accolade).
With 250 square miles of stunning sprawling woodland and the aforementioned observatory right amongst it on the Black Fell slopes, this really is a fantastic place to get away from the smog and gaze up at the stars above. Naturally, unless you live locally, you’ll want to spend the night, and the nearby 17th Century Pheasant Inn is a charming place to rest up.
Exmoor, North Devon
Another great spot with International Dark Sky recognition lies in Exmoor, with local authorities taking great measures to ensure that light is managed and the area is appealing to astronomers. On clear nights you don’t even need a telescope – many astronomical wonders are visible through the naked eye.
County Gate; Webbers Post; Holdstone Hill; Wimbleball Lake – these are just some of the fantastic spots you could pitch up for a night under the stars. If you don’t have your own telescopic equipment you can hire all you’ll need from one of the National Park Centres. For a great stay, we recommend The Old Rectory Hotel close to the coast – it was recently voted ‘Best Small Hotel’ by Visit England.
Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway
As the first UK national park to gain the coveted Dark Sky Status in 2009, Galloway Forest Park is known worldwide for its impressive technology, roll-off-roof observatory, and most importantly, its deep dark skies. With approximately 75,000 hectares of land, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a great spot (although Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre, Bruce’s Stone and Caldons woodlands are recommended by visitscotland.com).
While your nights are focused on Orion’s belt, the Plough, Cassiopeia, and other constellations, you’ll also find plenty to keep you busy in the daytime too. As one of the biggest forest parks in the UK, Galloway is a prime location for mountain biking, boasting more than 450 miles of marked routes. You’ll see plenty of wildlife and historic attractions along the way, making Galloway Forest Park an all-round gem.
Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
The only Dark-Sky preserve in Wales is situated in the Brecon Beacons. You’d be hard pressed to find a community which goes to such great lengths to ensure light pollution is reduced. The hard work is obviously paying off – on a clear night you can see just about everything from anywhere.
Dark Sky Wales manager Allan Trow told visitwales.com that his favourite stargazing spots in the Beacons are Usk Reservoir, Crai Reservoir, the National Park Visitor Centre, Pontsticill Reservoir, and Llangorse Lakes.
Lake District, Cumbria
Well known for its beautiful scenery down here on Earth, the Lake District is equally renowned for the breathtaking views above it. Stargazing at night is the perfect end to your days here; with some of the darkest skies in the county, you don’t even need equipment. Grizedale Forest Park is the place to be, drawing in thousands of visitors every year.
If you’re planning your trip but haven’t decided where to stay yet, we recommend the Grizedale Lodge in Hawkshead. With easy access to the Grizedale trails, it’s the perfect base for your Lake District stay.
Dr Gary Priestnall, at Nottingham University’s School of Geography, is aiming to recapture the sense of wonder which an extraordinary 15-foot by 14 foot, 3D, sculpted model of the Lake District inspired when it was unveiled in Keswick in the 1870’s. It has spawned a new exhibition opening at Keswick Museum and Art Gallery on Monday February 9 which runs until May. It’s part historical detective story, and part 21st Century, technological success story and Ordnance Survey has helped Gary every step of the way. Here is his story.
A unique 3-D model of the Lake District which would have offered Victorian tourists their first bird’s eye view of the Lake District has been known about since it caused such a stir in 1875. So when the one last surviving, beautifully hand-painted piece of the model, as well as 140 of the original plaster moulds used to create it, fell in to my hands the chance to celebrate the event in 2015 with an exhibition became my cause celebre.
For some, winter is a time of hibernation, staying in and never straying too far from the fireplace. For many others, though, it’s a time to get out the scarves, gloves, earmuffs and woolly hats which themselves have been hibernating for most of the year, and head out into the fresh chill outside.
Keen walkers know that the some of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes really come into their own in the colder season. A touch of frost here, a layer of snow there; it all adds up to make some of Britain’s most stunning scenery. So if you’ve got your layers on and fancy a stroll, here are some of our favourite winter walks around the country.
Today’s walk is a guest blog from Digital Outdoors, a network of over 60 camping and outdoor holiday websites. Their mission is to connect UK campers with great campsites and inspire and nurture a love for the Great British Outdoors.
Length of route: 3.1 m
Starting point: SD 413 987
Suitable for: Walking
Maps: OS Explorer Map OL7 The English Lakes: South-Eastern area
Download our OS MapFinder app and record your route
Use OS getamap
This week is National Parks Week, a seven-day celebration of Britain’s wildlife. It sees events organised across Britain’s 15 National Parks and encourages all Brits to head out and explore open areas right on their doorstep. There will also be a photography competition (on the theme ‘Space to Grow’) and overnight stays to show off the Parks’ dark skies.
So for those planning a visit to one of Britain’s National Parks for the big week ahead, here are some of the goings on you can look forward to.
‘Take pART’ is an arts and crafts scheme aimed at allowing children to get creative, learn a new skill and make something tangible, especially if this can be done with natural materials. This year’s National Parks Week will coincide with two Take pART workshops: pottery and felt pictures.
Both workshops will take place at the National Park visitor centre, with pottery on the cards on July 29 and felt the following day. The cost for each will be £5 per child. Adults or families looking for more physical activities, meanwhile, may be tempted by the Walk, Talk and Tea stroll around Mynydd Illtud. The family-friendly four-mile stroll will take in industrial sites, spiritual centre and Iron Age hillfort (depending on time). Space on the walk cost £4 but this includes a cream tea.
Today’s walk is from Peter Naldrett, author of the Trigpoint Walks series of books, and now the Lake District Dog Walker’s Guide.
Length of route: 7 miles
Starting point: NY 085 153
Suitable for: Walking
Where to park: There is a free car park at Bleach Green car park, Ennerdale.
Maps: OS Explorer Map OL4 The English Lakes: North-Western Area
Download our OS MapFinder app and record your route
Use OS getamap
Download the GPX file
Road walking: None.
Livestock: A sensible approach is required and dogs should be kept under control as sheep may be encountered during this walk at the base of several fells.
Nearest vets: West Lakeland Veterinary Group, St Bridgets Lane, Egremont, CA22 2BB. Tel: 01946 820312 www.westlakelandvets.co.uk
Nearby dog friendly pubs: The Fox and Hounds at Ennerdale Bridge is the nearest pub and is a lovely place to relax after a walk around this wonderful lake. The pub was bought by villagers in 2011 and the owners welcome walkers with muddy boots and dogs. Tel: 01946 861181 www.foxandhoundsinn.org Postcode: CA23 3AR Meanwhile, The Brook Inn at Cleator is a small terraced pub a little further away with a warm welcome for dog owners. Tel: 01946 811635 Postcode: CA23 3DX.
Today’s guest blog comes from Doug Belchamber at scafellpike.org.uk – the website that provides a complete guide to England’s highest peak.
Push yourself to your limit by conquering one of the greatest challenges in England – Scafell Pike! As England’s highest mountain – standing at 978 metres, this is a brilliant way of challenging yourself to beat your personal best. Located in the stunning Lake District National Park, Scafell Pike is steeped in beauty and history, and offers a fantastic experience for climbers of all ages.