Monthly Archives: January 2016

OS Maps – Paper v Digital

I’ve always loved maps. When I was a kid I would sit and pore over them. Looking at this flat piece of paper and imagining what the ground looked like. Planning routes and looking for things to explore. When I got older and joined some outdoor clubs we would plan trips away and make models of the hills using cardboard to trace out the contours, building the layers up and applying papier-mâché to get a feel of it.

Over the years I have used maps to plan day walks but since I got the idea to complete a number of long distance walks before embarking on my Lands End to John O’Groats trek that idea has exploded.

For Hadrians Wall I don’t really need much in the way of maps. Its a national trail with plenty of sign posts and a big wall in the middle. The plan is to just follow the map that came with the book (it uses OS 1:25 scale in a handy sized book) 

The Reivers Way isnt a recognised national trail so that would involve buying 5 maps which starts to add up at around £8 a map and it means carrying them as well. Same with Wainwrights Coast to Coast. Its not really a recognised trail with sign posts. That comes in at 9 maps which again adds up both in cost and pack space. 

Finally LEJOG. I am doing that in six stages over two months. It covers around 40 maps. So it took some thinking. I plan on doing a lot of wild camping so maps are pretty important.

I started looking at Ordnance Surveys online mapping service, OS Maps. For £17.99 I subscribed to 12 months online access to all of their maps and started playing about with it. While there are some features it could use it looks like it might suit my needs. Its easy to use and when I have had a question they are pretty quick in responding.

I mapped out Hadrians Wall over the four stages and it took an hour.  The Reivers Way took two hours and the Coast to Coast about three. I can print the tiles off in handy to scale A3 sizes and laminate them if I want to at least try and keep them water proof.

LEJOG took a bit more thinking. While I plan on mapping it out on OS Maps I don’t fancy carrying 100s of sheets of paper. So for the first stage up the south west coast I can use the Harveys strip maps from the South West Coast Path walk. Two small books that are pretty cheap and I don’t mind carrying them. That and I know to just keep the coast to my left until I get to Barnstaple.

Then the second stage I come inland through the Bristol Channel and along the welsh border to follow the Offa Dykes Path route. I have the guide book for that so might print off what I need from OS Maps and use the book.

The third stage is up through Shropshire, Staffordshire and up into Yorkshire. This I will need maps for so I think i’ll using OS Maps.  

The fourth stage follows a lot of the Pennine Way up into Northumberland. I have the Pennine Way guide so I will print out what I need and use the book. My father managed to walk the PW using just the guidebook.

The fifth stage follows the West Highland Way into Scotland. Again I will use the Harveys strip map for this. Its pretty well signposted anyway. The final stage I will need to print out maps and use the book I have.

At the end of each stage I plan on stopping in a bunkhouse or B&B, having a rest day and getting more supplies. I am going to post ahead the maps and books I need rather than carry them all.

Now the test will be walking with these print out maps rather than a map which to me seems strange even though they are essentially cut out bits of map. To try it I have printed out a few maps for Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath to see what its like. So those and the other three walks before LEJOG will be my test. If it proves to work then I have my solution.

Hadrians Wall Plan

While this isn’t my first adventure of the year its my first long distance walk and quite fitting its Hadrian’s Wall given a number of things happened to me over the years on the wall.

The norm is to walk it in 6-7 days but I’m pushing myself to get through it in juat over 3 during the Easter weekend in March.

My research involved buying the Cicerone guidebook and a strip map. Its not really a hard route to follow given its pretty much signposted and there’s a big wall in the middle.

I am walking west to east to end up in my home time so I looked at the mileage and figured there were stages I could join together. From speaking to people and researching online the first few stages aren’t that interesting or taxing. Its the middle days with the undulating hills I need to be wary of. I’e walked parts of this so I know what I am putting myself through and using it as an exercise to learn my capabilities, test some kit, move quick & light and wild camp where I can.

I just want to push my limits in a controlled way for my first solo walk. There are going to maybe up to 12 hour days of walking. Tough for any one. But I like a challenge.

Given these factors these are the stages I am aiming for:

Bowness to Newtown – 24 miles
Newtown to Sewingshields – 22 miles
Sewingshields to Newburn – 27 miles
Newburn to Wallsend – 12 miles

Having worked out the daily miles I looked at the strip map, OS Maps online and Google Maps to work out check points, food places along the way and research accommodation options. I arrive on the Thursday and have found a campsite in Bowness. It keeps the costs down and the site does a breakfast so that should set me up for the first slog.

At Newtown the B&Bs are expensive and limited so I found a bunkhouse. I could have wild camped but the first day is going to be long & flat and I’ll be ready for a bed. The second night I aim to wild camp near Sewingshields. I know its frowned on to wild camp on the wall but I have found a few places that should be out of the way enough. Obviously I will try to ask permission where possible and leave no trace.

When I get to Newburn I was going to try and wild camp again before my last leg into Newcastle but my Dad has offered to pick me up and has room on his couch. He wants to walk the last leg with me. When I get to Newcastle I return to my Dads via a visit to see my dog.

So thats the first walk of the year planned. Reivers Way and Wainwrights Coast to Coast to plan next before the big one. Lands End to John O Groats. And a few mini adventures to sort in between.