I’m producing a series of articles on paper OS maps that cover Northern England. As I’ve said before, North England for me consists of Northumberland, Cumbria, Tyne & Wear, Durham and North Yorkshire. So these are the areas that I will cover. The first in the series is the place where I do most of my walking, Northumberland. This will be followed by the other areas. But a bit more on why I’m doing this before going on to the articles themselves.
Other articles in this series:
Why do I need paper maps?
It’s a good question. Everything is accessible online these days, so why do I need paper maps. I don’t so much need them as want them. To me they are not just useful but precious. They are like works of art to me. They are drawn by skilled cartographers, so maybe they are art. Regardless, there are practical reasons why you need them though.
Maps are essential when walking and planning walks. I often use mapping software to plan walks but sometimes a computer screen doesn’t show enough to know what is in the immediate surrounding area. Out come the paper maps and I immediately have hundreds of square kilometres in front of me. I find that as I am scanning maps I almost always find something new. A new feature, a new settlement a new path. Then I wonder what it is or where it leads and what it looks like. The details on the map help me visualise it before I get there.
Many of us rely on software applications for finding our way outdoors. However, when out walking, many of the software applications are not available or require a data connection, which, I can say from experience of The Cheviots, can be unreliable. So, as a rule, I carry the relevant paper map, when I’m out, just in case. When all the technology has failed, the paper map will still work.
So, paper maps are still very valuable for many occasions. Now, the question is what maps?
What maps should I use?
Whilst there are many maps available, I consider the best walking maps in Great Britain to be those produced by Ordnance Survey. The 1:50,000 and 1:25000 range of maps are excellent.
The 1:50,000 Landranger maps (see the banners on this page) are the ones that I first experienced when I was at school and they fascinated me. So much detail and incredibly colourful. These are great to get an overall view and are excellent value, but I don’t think that they are detailed enough for walking in the countryside.
For walking, I prefer the 1:25,000 Explorer maps, mainly because they contain a great deal of detail and show field boundaries. They can be a bit unwieldy because of their size but I’ll put up with that for the detail.
The 1:25,000 Explorer maps are the ones that I’ll be looking at in the articles following in this series. The detail is plainly important but they have another particular feature that is very pertinent in three of the Northern counties. The Explorer series has a particular sub-group of maps called Outdoor Leisure or OL maps. This sub-group covers National Parks, of which there are four in the counties I will cover.
So, what maps cover Northern England then, I hear you ask. Well, we will look at that next.
What maps cover Northern England?
I have many maps covering various places in Britain, but I wanted to know which maps and how many are required to cover the regions of Northern England. The first thing to determine was the county boundaries.
North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumberland are three of the top six largest counties in England by area, with North Yorkshire being the largest county in England. All of these counties together make up just over 18% of England. That’s a reasonable chunk of the country.
Finding the county boundaries would be easy surely. The counties are clearly marked. Well the boundaries aren’t as straight as they look from a distance and when you get closer into them it’s difficult to see the towns and villages. The boundaries wiggle around a lot, making it difficult say which towns and villages are in which county. In the end I resorted to asking Google. Still, it should be easy to see where the maps overlap with the boundaries.
So, where do the maps overlap the county boundaries? I thought that this would be easy, but of course it wasn’t. The maps don’t take any notice of county boundaries. As a result, listing what maps were required to cover each county was a lot more difficult than anticipated, but I was determined to do it. This is what I have done for each of the articles in this series. Keep a look out and I hope you enjoy them.
Look out for the next in the OS Maps of Northern England series.
If you liked this post, why not take a look at the others:
More coming soon!
Walking North England – Anything and everything about walking in Northern England