Lake District


Making Ordnance Survey into a work of art

The Lakes Ignite programme for 2018 features an OS-inspired work of art called Ordnance Pavilion, paying homage to the trig pillar and the work of OS surveyors in mapping Great Britain. It’s flattering to be an artist’s muse, but we wonder if it’s not the first time OS has inspired an artwork…

Ordnance Pavilion

Created by Studio MUTT, Ordnance Pavilion is an interactive installation in the Langdale Estate in the Lake District. It forms part of Lakes Ignite 2018 which presents six contemporary artworks to celebrate the Lake District’s designation as a World Heritage site. On display between until July 2018, Ordnance Pavilion is a celebration of OS and how our maps have impacted people’s interaction with the landscape.

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Britain’s most popular grid squares

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.

Britain's most popular grid squares - 18 are in the Lake District!

Britain’s most popular grid squares – 18 are in the Lake District!

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Top 5 Dark Sky locations in Great Britain

Dark Sky locationsThe 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?

Kielder, Northumberland

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.


21st Century twist on a Victorian geographical melodrama

Gary PDr 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.

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A guide to Scafell Pike

Today’s guest blog comes from Doug Belchamber at scafellpike.org.uk – the website that provides a complete guide to England’s highest peak.

scafell pike viewPush 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. Read More


After the floods – putting Cumbria back together

For the last in our series of posts this week celebrating the Lake District National Park we’re looking at how Cumbria is returning to normal after the floods of November 2009.

The day of 19 November 2009 will remain in the memories of those living in Cumbria, and in particular Cockermouth for some time to come. Heavy rains had caused the rivers Derwent and Cocker, which both meet in Cockermouth, to rise and burst their banks. It was the time it took for the waters to take over the town that caught many unawares and unprepared. By midday the water levels were high, but Main Street was dry, by 3pm the water was a foot deep on Main Street and by midnight Main Street and some of it’s side streets had been transformed into a raging torrent of water which reached up to 8ft deep in places. I’d watched the footage on the television and thought that it looked bad – but it wasn’t until I visited Cockermouth earlier this year that I realised just how bad it had been.

Many bridges, like this one at Little Braithwaite, were destroyed during the floods.

Many bridges, like this one at Little Braithwaite, were destroyed during the floods.

Cockermouth wasn’t the only place affected by the floods. Workington, at the mouth of the River Derwent, was also badly affected with flood water. Being down stream from where the two flooded rivers met in Cockermouth, the flood waters came rushing downstream and engulfed Workington. The wall of water took out several bridges in the town – leaving only the railway bridge left as the river crossing, effectively cutting the town in two. Read More


Lake District National Park – relying on geography

This week we're celebrating 60 years of the Lake District National Park.

This week we’re celebrating 60 years of the Lake District National Park.

This week we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Lake District National Park. Today we’re looking at the national park authority and how they rely on Ordnance Survey mapping data. Today we’re talking to Rosemary Long who is a GIS Officer for the Lake District National Park (LDNP). Rosemary has worked for LDNP for over ten years but has been in her current role since March 2011.

What’s a typical day like for you Rosemary?
No two days here are ever the same in the GIS team. The one constant thing that we have to deal with though is location. When we need to show someone where something is in the Lake District the best way is to show them on a map – and the best maps of the Lake District are Ordnance Survey ones. Read More


A day in the life of a surveyor in Cumbria

This week on the Ordnance Survey blog we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Lake District National Park. Today we are going to spend the day with Ant Kewen who is one of our Surveyors and is based in Cumbria.





Ant, how long have you been working with Ordnance Survey?
I joined Ordnance Survey back in 1985 as a Surveyor and worked in Lancashire for 23 years. I’ve been in my current role here in Cumbria for the past 3 years.

Ant doesn't have a bad view on his journey to work does he?

Ant doesn’t have a bad view on his journey to work does he?

What is a typical day like for you?
I get up before the rest of the house, have a cup of tea, and put the computer on to check through e-mails. I then decide which area of Cumbria I’m going to work in today. The decision on which jobs to do and where to go are based on high priority work such as Land Registry and high priority jobs based on age and size. I check the weather – it always seems to be raining somewhere in Cumbria but seeing as I have the whole of Cumbria to go to and a choice of jobs that can be done in the rain (such as collecting addresses or reviews), I’m not usually housebound due to the weather. I then double check that I have the data I need – when I return home I usually set this up ready for the following day, then set the SatNav up and off I go. The range of tasks in a typical day can vary from Land Registry Surveys and building sites through to single houses and barn conversions, reviewing planned jobs to assess when they will be ready to survey and collecting and matching addresses. Read More


Tubular Fells

When I was up in the Lake District earlier this year I came across a new map of the Wainwright Fells and thought that today I would share it with you on the Ordnance Survey blog. The map is called Tubular Fells.

The Tubular Fells map is based on Henry Beck's iconic London Underground map.

The Tubular Fells map is based on Henry Beck’s iconic London Underground map.

The map has been inspired by Harry Beck and his famous schematic map of the London Underground that was produced initially in 1931. Peter Burgess, a London base Geography teacher, has taken the idea of this iconic map and creating a new one based on the Lakeland Fells shown in the Wainwright guides.

Having lived in London for nearly 20 years, Beck’s map was something Burgess was very familiar with. As a keen fell walker and being a Geographer by trade – he thought to himself “I could make a fells map like Beck’s” – and so he did (after about 10 years of thinking about it and a few weeks sat in front of a computer).

So what’s on the map? In addition to the Fells there are also all 17 of the lakes that give the Lake District it’s name. You’ve also got the Coast to Coast, Cumbria Way and Dales Way along with the wheelchair accessible route to the summit of Latrigg and other identifiable features that you’d come across on the route (for example the Skiddaw House bunkhouse). As in the London Underground map where there are connections with ferry services – so there are also ferry connections shown on this map. The fells are connected by a coloured line (as in the style of Beck’s London Underground map) – with each colour corresponding to the relevant colour of Wainwright’s pictorial guides. Read More


Drought? What drought?

Today on the blog we have a guest blog from James Squires of Fix the Fells. Over the coming months we will be hearing more from the Fix the Fells team on the vital work that they do to repair and maintain the upland footpaths.

It has been a period of weather extremes on the fells since Easter what with having hot sunny conditions throughout a good part of April and then, in May, experiencing several prolonged spells of wind and rain. This culminated in flash flooding along the Borrowdale valley and 100mph gusts of wind on the fell tops. We even had sleet and wet snow showers there just before the Whit Bank Holiday!

Extreme conditions can play havoc with the best laid plans. Hot  weather makes turfing difficult since the turfs quickly dry out and begin to resemble the legendary British Rail sandwich of old – brown with slightly turned up edges. It is also hard to make the turfs ‘stick’ when it is time to lay them. On the other hand, if you have ever cut a large piece of turf in bone dry conditions and then tried to lift it after several days’ heavy rain, you will know to find a good osteopath first: what was once a manageable piece of sward becomes just the heaviest thing imaginable, but it does batter into place! On the plus side though, severe wet weather gives us the opportunity to see that our fell drains are doing their job and determine if we need to build more.

The Fix the Fells team are working hard to repair the footpaths

The Fix the Fells team are working hard to repair the footpaths

We have finally finished the work left over from last year at Esk Hause and are now leaving the site to re-vegetate for the next few weeks. We shall monitor the progress of the new grass and periodically throw some more seed down. If you are passing, we hope you like what you see and would ask that you stick to the footpath so that the edges have the best chance to re-establish themselves. Do not be concerned either at the bright blue stuff you see at the path edges: it is just a mulch to help the seed get established on the thin upland soils, is made of wood pulp and will rot down in a year or so. What’s more, in spite of its fearsome appearance, it’s completely harmless! Read More