I've been very fortunate so far this year to have teamed up with Ordnance Survey, who I've learnt are the biggest data mapping company in the world- every time you use your sat nav or Google maps, the data has come from OS.
And there was me thinking OS were just the makers of our beloved paper maps!
I launched an exciting competition for OS to the public, where the pictures that we snap away on our phones and digital cameras can become the new cover photos of over 600 OS explorer and land ranger map tiles.
OS have had nearly 10,000 entries so far!
If you want to enter one of your photos, I explain how in this short YouTube clip:
Upload your entry at WWW.OS.UK/PHOTOFIT
It's been a glorious start to the year and I've had some great days out in the Lakes and Brecon, trying to brush up on my map skills.
I didn't know that 90% of hill walkers are followers, with only 10% on average leaders- able to navigate and read a map, did you?! Thinking about it, I am definitely a follower, so my goal for 2015 is to become a leader!
In Brecon I had a fun day out with Jake Thompsett working on nav skills. It's all there in the back of my head, but I could really feel the cogs turning trying to remember in gusts of 60mph! It was a beautiful day out, and we barely saw any other people except for one group. Definitely worth the 6 hour round trip.
My advice to you if you want to brush up on your nav skills:
1. Practice what you can at home, where blustery winds and numb fingers won't be an issue. You can get to grips with finding grid positions, identifying map symbols and learning the process taking a compass bearing.
2. Once out on your chosen walk, choose landmarks on your map only a few minutes apart and try and hit as many as you can along your way. This is actually quite a lot of fun- like a treasure hunt (but without the treasure), and a good family day out during Easter holidays too.
3. Learn how quickly you cover distances. Such an obvious tip but something I overlooked until Jake pointed it out. I now know that it takes me 68 paces to walk 100m on flat-ish ground, I also now know that my speed it roughly 4kmph on easy terrain. Knowing these things means that I have more tools to draw upon when navigating, and is so useful I can't believe I didn't do it before! Great tip from Jake: print out and use this table along with a stop watch- once your watch beeps you know that you should have roughly covered the distance you intended, provided you didn't take long breaks:
I hope these tips help any budding leaders like me, and please let me know your nav tips too!
Most importantly- just get outside, it doesn't matter how simple the terrain is and how well you know the area, taking a map with you and learning how to marry the landscape with what you see on paper is a skill that simply takes time and experience, there are no short cuts. So what are you waiting for? Get OutSide!
P.S throwback to 2010 with Jon Gupta and my first ever experience of using a paper map- my face belies how confused I was!