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Discussion Forum - Gear ! - OS Maps application and OS paper maps

Author: Raymond Wilkes
Posted: Wed 28th Aug 2019, 9:21
Joined: 2013
Local Group: West Yorkshire
I always take a GPS at 1;25k plus I print out A4 maps from my computer at 1:50k, sometimes enlarged. It is a very light weight way of having paper maps in my map case and I get the best of GPS, paper, and both scales.
Author: Dave Clifton
Posted: Mon 26th Aug 2019, 18:06
Joined: 2011
Local Group: Northumbria
No worries , if you want to get details where I stayed, drop me a mail, I competed in 13 days and stayed in some really comfortable places
Author: Iain Connell
Posted: Sun 25th Aug 2019, 15:55
Joined: 2010
Local Group: East Lancashire
Dave, thanks for the offer of the Pennine Way Trailblazer guide, but I’m letting my 50th anniversary chance to redo the PW go as I live fairly near to it and have done substantial chunks including Hadrian’s, Cross Fell, Langdon Beck this year (guess why). Notice Board sale or swap ?

Your point about digital hand-held devices failing or suffering battery loss is well made, which is why I’d suggest a backup to map downloads to smartphone in the form of a GPS device (or vice versa). At least one mobile phone now offers wireless recharging via another phone, so in the near future charge-sharing might become an additional reserve. I too still carry the paper OS maps, onto which I hand-update changes to the marked route lines (e.g. after walker-made diversions round bogs, difficult terrain, or just legal[ish] shortcuts) and my own set of acronyms, such as BS (bad stile), DN (difficult navigation), etc. With my GPS device it’s easy to create waypoints ‘on the go’ for features which aren’t on the map, often FBs or WMk posts, which I later add to the paper map.

But that’s for day or weekend walks. On continuous LDPs it’s difficult to see a technology-proof (battery, mobile signal, wireless internet) solution always guaranteed to work, particularly in emergencies or zero-visibility. On both halves of 1969 and 1970 walk of the Pennine Way I carried full sets of 1-inch OS maps with the ‘route’ on them (the PW in those days was new and well signposted). That must have been three or four maps per half, not that much weight, but now it’s (not always double-sided) 1:25,000s. On later LDPs I sent on replacement 1:50,000 maps to post offices, but that’s not an option these days apart from large towns. So I’d suggest separate one-weeks sets of downloaded double-sided A4 copies of the route, sent on to booked accommodation at strategic places (for the PW that might be Hebden Bridge, Hawes, Bowes). Plus of course the physical compass (my GPS has one but it eats batteries).

I’m an OS mapping subscriber too (very good value at 20 pounds a year for (Premium) 25k coverage of the whole of the British mainland plus the Isle of Man). I use it for initial route creation and re-re-editing on the laptop - the interface is peculiar and has a cul-de-sac which I wish they’d fix rather than bothering with fripperies such as fly-throughs - and for making hard single- or double-page copies of day-routes to carry along with the paper maps. A few years ago* I found an online seller of the (then) 8-year old 25k OS maps on microSD cards for Garmins for less than 40 pounds per card. When I last checked there were none left from that seller, but OS’s replacement cycle - the one I bought and still use had been withdrawn - may mean that the current card soon becomes available at comparable prices. That, I’d suggest, is a better option for hand-held OS mapping than phone apps, at least till Apple releases their (Cross Fell proof) Outdoors iPad.

* ‘See Garmin full-GB OS MicroSD/SD card for 39 pounds’ below in Gear. In 2018 that seller’s listings included cards for separate UK regions for 26.25 pounds per card at 1;50,000.
See also ‘Viewranger on iPhone/iPad’ and ‘Tablet GPS’ in Gear for Viewranger and tablet options.

Author: Dave Clifton
Posted: Fri 23rd Aug 2019, 11:22
Joined: 2011
Local Group: Northumbria
Hi Iain, One of the risks of relying on phones and indeed GPS is that they could fail you or not be as detailed in an urban setting for example. I mentioned the trailblazer book as it was very useful at times being a collection of descriptions and hand drawn maps. When I was walking on the Hadrian's trail through a village and my GPS was hard to work out what was a road and the HW path . I turned to the page in my book and it showed buildings etc and got me on the right turning . If you would like me to post you the Pennine way trailblazer book I have a V4 from last year lets me have your address. Not on this forum but if you click onto the Northumbria LDWA pages you will see my email address to send me your details . We always also on our group walks have a paper map of the area.
Author: Iain Connell
Posted: Thu 22nd Aug 2019, 12:46
Joined: 2010
Local Group: East Lancashire
The point about the problem of loading/using whole GPX tracks (or routes?) was NeilHikerDoc's, not Dave's. Apologies.
Author: Iain Connell
Posted: Thu 22nd Aug 2019, 12:41
Joined: 2010
Local Group: East Lancashire
A couple of years ago I reviewed for Strider Tom Davies’s account of his walk of the periphery of Wales using the Welsh Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke Path. The walk story (‘A Welsh Wander’, Y Lolfa Press 2017) isn’t a great read, but it was the first which I’ve encountered to rely solely on route maps, in this case Cicerone’s, downloaded daily to a smartphone. Tom’s phone batteries held up throughout (how he recharged them inside from a tent wasn’t, from memory anyway, made clear), even though he used both the phone’s mp3 player and its voice & text capabilities.

Though Tom didn’t carry a GPS (or need to make use of the phone’s GPS positioning), he didn’t go wrong very often. If he were doing the walk now he might combine the guidebooks’ maps with their (or our LDP database’s) downloadable GPX tracks, loaded to either the phone, a dedicated GPS device, or both. As Dave Clifton said, preloading the whole route of an LDP as a single GPX track can be a bit of a data overload, so he might prepare shorter chunks using mapping software.

That, it seems to me, is the future of continuous LDP navigation: a combination of daily or slightly longer route map downloads to a phone or tablet, together with shorter lengths of a whole GPX track file to the same device or a separate GPS receiver with mapping capabilities. Apart from the historical/geographical background, transport access and other information (which can also be viewed online if needed), no need to carry, or indeed purchase, a paper book, of the route; or, indeed, any other (get a Kindle app).

What’s the point of paper guidebooks, now ? Good question.

Author: Dave Clifton
Posted: Thu 22nd Aug 2019, 8:06
Joined: 2011
Local Group: Northumbria
Hi Both, I too completed the Pennine way this July but I used a Garmin Montana with OS mapping plus crucially a trailblazer V5 book that gave me hand drawn small maps to keep me going. I also used a Trailblazer book on Hadrian's wall along with my GPS. I had little problems over Cross fell using the OS map on my GPS and hit all paths even through visibility was poor. My only problem with the OS mapping on my GPS in Yorkshire was the alternative Pennine bridal paths also shown as a National trail. Every night on my Pennine way journey I charged my GPS which gave me well over 8 hours of use with the battery saving option that my GPS has . I also carried spare batteries but never used them. I don't doubt that smart phones are an option but for me a GPS with OS mapping plus a trailblazer book is for me
Author: Neil HikerDoc
Posted: Wed 21st Aug 2019, 15:56
Joined: 2019
Local Group: West Yorkshire
Hi Marcus, I recently completed the Pennine Way, which is very well signed throughout the route, but in places it requires a quick reorientation to make sure the wrong (sheep) track isn't followed across the miles of peat bog that form a good bit of the trail. I used OS Mapping, Android version, having previously created about 12 sections or so, on the Routes function of the app, instead of one long continuous route, which would have been a massive single download and also a massive programme to open off-line when on the trail.

I had used the app on an older phone last year to walk the Dales Way, Hadrian's Wall, Y3P, West Highland Way and also earlier this year the Hebridean Way. I had experienced a lot of problems with the off-line mapping function and assumed it was the limited power of my old phone and so I put up with it and double-checked with compass and printed maps.

Before going on the Pennine Way, I up-graded to a hugely powerful new phone, with a 7 nano chipset and blistering speed and massive internal memory. I was therefore really surprised to find that the same old problems continued with the off-line maps. They just would not load properly and unless I could get access to data through 3G or 4G, the maps simply would not load fully. I could still get the route (as a line) and the cursor (indicating whether I was still on the route or not), but no map detail and so no topography of the terrain.

I have to say, I was very disappointed with this issue and at one stage, on Cross Fell, in thick mist, absence of defined trail and GPS lost, it was a little unsettling. I am now looking at alternatives, such as ViewRanger, which some reviews suggest is better. I just wondered if you, or any of the other LDWA members have also had experience of this same problem with the OS Mapping app in Android? What was the outcome - change app or is there a way to overcome the issues with OS Maps?
Author: Marcus Becker
Posted: Thu 1st Aug 2019, 15:55
Joined: 2018
Local Group: Thames Valley
I have a subscription to OS maps and can download any UK map, but it only covers small areas and then has to reload. It is also awkward to use and create own custom offline maps.
Today my very first real paper map arrived and I unlocked it on the application. It covers half of the Chiltern Hills, just like that! 140MB download and I got all the 1:25k maps!

Never walking in grey areas again, because your offline map ran out and you had no signal :P

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