Friday, 26 March 2010

400,000 free acres

I use online maps a lot, I usually have the GPS with me, and I've discovered that there are maps on my new mobile phone. But there is still nothing to beat a paper map out on the road.

To my mind the scale of the Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25,000) maps is too large for cycling. They show a huge amount of detail, and they are good for walking. They have the advantage that they make the distances on a bike feel further than they are. But a decent ride would mean carrying a lot of Explorer maps.

Apparently some people tear up road atlases for their long rides, but that isn't for me: they don't show enough detail. The Ordnance survey Landranger (1:50,000) maps are just about right for the distances I am covering.

Sometimes I hanker after a slightly smaller scale, like the Sustrans route maps, or the old Bartholomew 1/2" maps that my parents used to use. But the Sustrans maps only cover their routes, and I don't think the Bartholomew 1/2" maps have been published for more than thirty years.

The Landranger maps do me fine. Each one covers about 25 miles across, and 25 miles from top to bottom, and we live close to the middle of a sheet. So a decent round trip takes me off our home sheet onto at least one of the neighbouring sheets.

If I am riding near to the corners I sometimes have to cross two or even three of the neighbouring sheets, but it's a long ride that takes me further than that. Reckoning up, my round trips on the bike have taken me across seven of the eight sheets that butt onto my home sheet. The few rides that have taken me further were one-way, and involved getting the train home.

I bought the extra sheets one at a time, as I needed them. However, at the moment the Ordnance Survey has a "3 for the price of 2" offer - which runs to the end of the month. As far as I can work out, that's a pretty good price for any sheet that isn't discounted elsewhere. It saved me a few pounds on the maps I wanted for holiday planning.

Obviously there are cheaper alternatives, but until the end of March, for each two Landranger maps that you buy the Ordnance Survey will give you another 625 square miles, or 400,000 acres. It seems like a good time to stock up.

The link is here.

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