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Advice Needed : Maps


Couple of weeks ago it became blindingly obvious that I need to get myself mapped up, especially when I am trying, or inted to try, to scale the heights of 6, 8 and 10 pointers.
I am not looking for a walking gps and it will be thrown over a cliff the first time it goes wrong…and things like that always go wrong with me.
Besides, I feel that with good old-fashoned paper maps, they should last me for years without causing much grief.
So, advice please.
Should I buy OS maps?
If so, would you recommend 1:25,000 or 1:50,000
They also seem to have much choice in plastic covered, extra absorpent etc.

Looking forward to your thoughts,

Thanks once again,



In reply to G1STQ:

1:50,000 and their predecessors 1:63,360 (1"=1 mile) were perfectly adequate for generations of hill-walkers, but 1:25,000 does give you more detail. The only trouble with 1:25,000 is that you need more of them for the same amount of terrain! OS are best, there are various independent maps available, some of them quite pretty, but they are derived from OS data so cut out the middle-man! :wink:

Whilst you are at it get a good quality transparent map case to keep the rain off.

Some of the maps that I still use occasionally have been in my collection for nearly 50 years, treat 'em well and they are good for a lifetime!


Brian G8ADD


In reply to G1STQ:

Hi John

look at these.


Put in a lat and long and you can have whatever scale you like. You can extract the lat and long easily from the Summit info page.

I just print them off and put them in a transparent map case and they do the job just fine.

Use them once and, if they get knackered, chuck them away.


Dave (Bah humbug)


In reply to G1STQ:

For carrying while walking I’d go for 1:25000 every time + a good map case. In mountainous areas they are much more useful and features that are shown on the 1:25000 are often omitted from the 1:50000. For planning 1:50000 can be useful and are a lot cheaper per sq. km

Both are things of beauty and will give many hours of enjoyment. We are lucky in the UK to have such good quality mapping available to us.

Personally I go for the plain uncoated ones despite the fact that they do eventually wear out, generally along the folds. When putting a map into a map case one typically has to refold it to make the area of interest visible and this causes additional wear and tear.

Don’t forget that OS maps go out of date. A couple of years ago a friend pointed out that one of the 1:25000s I was using omitted the Settle bypass - which shows how long I’ve had it.




In reply to M0TUB:
Hi Dave.Thats the way that I do it.I also go to my intended summit and take a print of that as well.That way you have all the info of the summit as well.I find the Streetmap is easier to follow than the google map that you can call up from sota summits 73 Geoff G6MZX


In reply to M0TUB:

I just print them off

From streetmap.co.uk “This data may not be reproduced in any form without permission”

Downloading maps and printing them: A few pence

Buying a map case to keep them safe: A few pounds

Telling the whole world how and when you break the law: Priceless!




In reply to MM0FMF:
Hi Andy Why on streetmap does it ask you if you want a print freindly version then .ATB Geoff


In reply to G1STQ:

You can snarf data from websites and print it. You can buy OS maps at 1:50k or 1:25k. You can buy Harveys Maps. But the one thing you need to ensure is that you can actually read the damn things.

I need reading glasses so when I print my maps (from Anquet, a program I bought which gives me a licence to printout any of the mapping data) I ensure I print it big enough to read without my glasses. It sounds obvious till you try to read them in the rain and gloom through a map case. Then you fish about for reading glasses and they steam up or get so many rain drops on them you can’t see anything.

When you buy a map case, don’t buy cheap. They don’t last. Buy one made out of the softest plastic you can find. The cheap ones got hard and brittle when it’s cold and will crack as you flex them.

The advantage of programs like Memory Map and Anquet is that no only do you get all the UK at 1:50k, but you can draw your route on them and get time estimates, height profile info, waypoints to put in your GPS, and the fact that you don’t end up needing 4 1:50k OS maps because the summit and route of interest lies in the corner of all 4 maps! Anquet can be had for £87 at present for all 204 1:50k OS maps and height data. The maps in paper for would cost over £1600. The break even point is around 11 maps as after that it’s cheaper to buy the software.

Second hand book shops are always worth a visit… OS maps can be had for 50p or so. They may be dated for roads etc. but the mountains don’t move (Benbeoch SS-186 excepted).



In reply to MM0FMF:


As your into the small print

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy

The Street Map site is compiled and made available by Streetmap Eu Limited. Information displayed through the Streetmap site is extracted from a copyright work owned by Streetmap’s Respective Suppliers. See our About page for more details. This compilation is a copyright work. © Streetmap EU Ltd 1997 - 2009.

A single print of the results of a map search is permitted for your own personal use. Otherwise the reproduction, copying, downloading, storage, recording, broadcasting, retransmission and distribution of any part of the Streetmap site is not permitted. Please see our business services page if you would like to use this data or to print the maps for your business. Considerable efforts are made to make information contained in the Streetmap site as accurate as possible but no warranty or fitness is implied. The Streetmap site is provided on an “as is” basis. Streetmap EU Ltd shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or organisation with respect to any loss or damage arising from Information or the use of Information.

Why do you assume I would break the law? - jumping to conclusions - priceless indeed!




(Complete with Memory Map 3D too!)


In reply to M0RCP:

Don’t forget that OS maps go out of date. A couple of years ago a
friend pointed out that one of the 1:25000s I was using omitted the
Settle bypass - which shows how long I’ve had it.



I think my oldest map in current use is a 1"= 1 mile tourist map of Ben Nevis and Glencoe, I can’t remember exactly when I bought it but it cost 55p, has a revision date of 1966 and doesn’t show the Ballachulish Bridge! It accompanies my 1:25,000 map because it is better for identifying distant peaks, and as it doesn’t owe me anything I have marked all the SOTA summits on it! Roads might change or bridges come and go but the landforms don’t change, if my 1:25,000 map blew away I would happily navigate from this 46-year old relic! Don’t dispose of your map, it will bring back happy memories in decades to come.


Brian G8ADD


In reply to G6MZX:

Hi Geoff

Streetmap is a very useful tool. You can use the “Click here to convert coordinates button” at the bottom which will give you a postcode for the sat nav etc as below.

OS X (Eastings) 347570
OS Y (Northings) 295205
Nearest Post Code SY6 6JN
Lat (WGS84) N52:33:08 (52.552150)
Long (WGS84) W2:46:29 (-2.774688)
LR SO475952
mX -308876
mY 6866637

You need to re-enter the post code to find out exactly where it is. This along with an AA road map gets me onto the printout and then I just navigate to my start point from there.

A copy of the summit info is attached and I’m all ready to go.



In reply to MM0FMF:

When you buy a map case, don’t buy cheap. They don’t last.

My answer to that one Andy is to not buy at all. I’ve given up on them - they are a complete pain in the backside when it is windy… and it is usually windy up the hills. I use A4 plastic wallets to house my printed maps sealed with tape which tuck into a side pocket on my jacket. They have a tendency to leak a bit when its raining, but the maps survive long enough to serve the purpose and I don’t think their recycling value is much diminished by getting wet.

Am I beginning to sound more like a Scotsman?.. perhaps you’ll let me in at the border next month without charging me. :slight_smile:

73, Gerald G4OIG


In reply to G6MZX:

Why on streetmap does it ask you if you want a print

(somewhat red faced)

Because I’m thinking of a different site Geoff.

So Dave, my mistake, you’re absolutely fine in printing from streetmap. My excuse is it’s been a long day, but that’s no excuse really. Dave, sorry for suggesting otherwise. I’d go an delete those commments but destroys the flow and makes an apology look odd.



In reply to G4OIG:

I have thought about just using those A4 wallets. But the map case is useful to hold the compass, a summit humbug and other detritus. (A summit humbug is a treat diabetics are allowed when they have climbed a mountain. ) My map case is starting to fail after 5yrs non-stop use and I’m wondering what to replace it with. As you say, they are a liability in the wind… mine has slapped me in the face more than once.

You can use them as a dry seat as well as long as you remove the compass first. You can do that with an A4 wallet but those of us with vast backsides would have a fair amount of overhang on just an A4 seat! :slight_smile:



In reply to G1STQ:


I also recommend Streetmap; copy and paste the grid ref and remember to remove the space that is inserted for some reason on the SOTA pages. I print the 1:50k and it comes out oversized so that I can easily read it. Sometimes I print the 1:25k (also oversized) because it shows fences and Access Land which is very useful both in seriously wild areas (walls & fences) or farmland (for access).

Dave, M0TUB is absolutely right when he says get the postcode and then check where it actually points to; on several occasions I have had them relocate to the other side of the hill! What I then do is choose another farm further down the hill on the side I want to be on. I write this and various other info on the page margins of my printouts (in pencil) so I have the locator and WAB square to hand when working.

Map cases normally either leak or disintegrate or both. I have an Ortleib which just fits an A4 sheet and so is ideal for my printouts (as well as maps refolded). Horribly pricey but well worth it if you don’t lose them; managed to keep this one for two years still watertight. (Usual disclaimer - no connection with the firm etc.)

If you do buy maps either trim the cover just smaller than the fold or remove it altogether before refolding or the cover will burst the map along the fold lines. Harveys recommended if there is one covering the area. Printed on polyethylene, I think.

Expensive GPS with 1:50k installed does cover the area you visit even if you left the map at home. Snag is cost (think good 2nd hand 817ND) and small screen. Plus point is that you can magnify so large that the trigpoint fills the screen.

Hope there is something useful there; been hill walking for 50+ years so hope I have learned something useful.

73 & safe walking,



In reply to M0JLA:

Hi Rod

I bought a map case and a compass from Tesco for £5 and it has lasted me so far. They are a pain in the butt in the wind but at the price, if it dies soon, it won’t owe me anything.

I bought a Memory Map 3500 from Go Outdoors (Usual disclaimer - no connection with the firm etc.) It comes complete with all the UK mainland and IOM 1:50k maps, a disc of same inc 3D for your PC, has a 3.5 inch screen and is currently advertised at £360. However, and a big one, is that Go Outdoors do a price match promise. They will match any web price you can prove and then beat it by 10%. I found the Memory map 3500 on Memory Map’s own website advertised at £299. I produced this at the checkout of Go Outdoors and they reduced the price to £270. The only problem is it does not have the Motherland (Northern Ireland) maps which are another £100…

I did the same with a pair of Meindl boots at £157 and had them reduced to £122.

Which is why I am skint and can’t afford to buy the maps!!

Andy - all good banter.



In reply to MM0FMF:

My map case has survived thirty years although it isn’t as clear as it used to be. Perhaps the modern ones are made from cheaper materials. Keeping a headtorch in it used to weigh it down so that it doesn’t hit you in the eye, but that was in the days of the all-metal jobs with 4.5 volt flat batteries, the modern equivalent is probably too light…a Kendal mintcake would probably do the job, it’s better than eating the dam’ stuff.

For dry seats, pop into Poundland, they sell sleeping mats of closed cell foam in a bilious green colour. You can cut a few sitting pads out of one of those, they curl open in the rucsac and hold it open to get at gear and you can afford to have them blow away at that price!


Brian G8ADD


In reply to M0TUB:
You seem to have got a really good buy with that GPS; mine (Garmin Oregon) was a birthday present but I think it was around £400, complete with maps. Must check if it has NI included now you have raised the possibility, though no plans in that direction at present.

It’s buying radio stuff that leaves me skint!



In reply to G8ADD and MM0FMF:

I have a posh Gelert foam seat which folds neatly into my backpack. The problem is making sure I hold onto it in the wind… usually when I stand up to operate 23cms. :slight_smile: I try not to let anything blow away on a summit as it is littering of the worst kind… but I didn’t chase after the plastic lid that blew away over the edge on Pen y Fan!

As for map cases, mine was always whipping up and hitting me in the face, that’s why I gave up on carrying it. I print maps for each activation. The only thing is that restricting the map just to the ascent route doesn’t give you any info on the adjacent summits and Paul and I usually end up debating which summit is which.

73, Gerald


In reply to M0JLA:

Hi Rod

OSNI are very tight with their maps. They won’t even release them to Streetmap. My wife has a licence to use computerised OSNI maps but only in the line of her employment as an engineer. The licence does not permit their use for my leisure and so I have to buy them at £8 a time.