Five Favourite Springtime Walks from the West Midlands to the Scottish Highlands

View from Catbells looking towards Skiddaw in The Lake District, Cumbria, England

Spring is officially here and though we’re not quite ready for shorts and t-shirts just yet, we have reached the point where the day has become longer than the night, and that alone is worth celebrating! Longer days mean more time outdoors and with the countryside now beginning to thaw, I’m sure we’re all craving a bit more time outside.

As temperatures return we should soon witness the landscape transform from its dull winter greys back to vibrant greens and it’s these little things that make spring a fantastic time to explore. Here’s five of our favourite springtime walk ideas from the West Midlands right up to Southern Scotland.

To get the most out of these seasonal walks we recommend plotting a route you’re comfortable with by using our Memory-Map OS Explorer 1:25,000 software. Choose either GB (which covers all of these walks) or choose from one of our 6 regional software packs for the region listed. Explorer offers the highest level of detail and don’t forget you can create routes on your PC/Mac and then CloudSync them straight onto your device. We’d recommend also printing routes onto Toughprint waterproof paper too as a printed map won’t run out of battery, so it’s good to have a backup!

  1. Wenlock Edge, Shropshire (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Central England)

First up is Wenlock Edge, which is the longest unbroken stretch of woodland in England. It covers a 20-mile ridge from the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the Severn Gorge to the gateway of the Welsh Marches in the town of Craven Arms. The Edge woods have fleeting but dramatic views; from the Wrekin in the north, the Clee Hills to the east, Clun Forest in the south, and the Stretton Hills and beyond them the Berwyn mountains of mid-Wales to the west. A great place to explore during spring as the vivid colours in the woodland can be fantastic and there’s lots of wildlife to discover too.

Wild Garlic Growing at Wenlock Edge
Wild Garlic Growing at Wenlock Edge
  1. Buttermere Valley, Lake District, Cumbria (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Northern England)

Snow-topped peaks in Buttermere Valley can sometimes last well into April, but springtime brings a change to the landscape, making it a great time for wildlife watching. Nesting birds are extremely active (and the walk around the lake is closed between April and June to allow sandpipers to nest undisturbed). The three-mile National Trust walk from the Buttermere Valley up to the summit of Rannerdale Knotts will reward you with glorious views of three lakes and many high peaks.

A green lush landscape in Buttermere in the Lake District
A green lush landscape in Buttermere in the Lake District
  1. Hadrian’s Wall, across various counties (2018 OS Explorer Northern England 1:25,000)

No trip through northern England is complete without a visit to the Roman defence-works masterpiece that is Hadrian’s Wall. Keen hikers can walk some or maybe even all of its 73-mile length from Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria (in the west), to Wallsend, Tyneside in the east. On the way you’ll pass through Roman fort remains at Segedunum and Housesteads, and the River Tyne bridges.

  1. Glencoe, Scotland (2018 OS Explorer Southern Scotland 1:25,000)

A visit to Scotland is not complete without a trip to the Highlands, and for dramatic, mountainous landscapes, Glencoe is hard to beat. Because of the tragic events that occurred there in the 17th century, Glencoe is arguably the most well-known glen in Scotland. It’s also home to some of the best Scottish walks for spring – select from the tough 150km West Highland Way or the shorter and gentler Lochan and Brecklet Trails.

Scottish Highlands Valley at Spring, Sunlight Breaking Through Clouds
Scottish Highlands Valley at Spring, Sunlight Breaking Through Clouds
  1. Silurian Way, Grisedale Forest Park, Lake District (2018 OS Explorer Northern England 1:25,000)

The Silurian Way takes you across both sides of the Grisedale Valley through enchanting stretches of woodland which are ‘decorated’ with 80 stone and wood sculptures by artists like Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and Sally Matthews. Highlights along the way include Grisedale Tarn, the Eagle’s Head Pub in Satterthwaite village, and some stupendous views atop Carron Crag, the highest point in the forest.

Grisedale Valley in The Lake District, Cumbria, England, UK

We hope you liked our ideas and we’d also love to hear about your favourite walks or even how you use our software during your adventures! Next month we’ll select some of our top walks from Wales and Southern England, and in the meantime we wish you a happy spring and hope you find some time to get out there this Easter to enjoy it!

Create 3D Contours with our Relief Shading Feature

3d Shading Demo 2016

With relief shading, the map is drawn as a 3D model, with lighting from the east or west. The effect is to greatly enhance the perception of the landscape, especially when you stand back and look at the map from a distance. There are no perspective effects, so the shaded map can be used for measurements exactly like a normal map. The only disadvantage is that some of the detail in the darker areas of the map is harder to read.

The Relief Settings dialog (accessed by clicking the Settings button next to the Relief shading option in either the Print dialog, or the Image export dialog) is shown below.

panelThe Brightness controls the overall brightness of the image. The default value is 80%. This means that a horizontal area of the terrain is drawn slightly darker than normal, which gives a better highlight the brighter parts of the image. If you set the brightness to 100, the flat areas are drawn with normal brightness (i.e. a flat white area still appears white).

The Contrast sets the variation between east and west facing slopes. Increasing the value gives a more dramatic effect, reducing it gives a more subtle effect. The default is 150. The contrast is automatically scaled by the maximum slope in the image. A contrast setting of 100% causes the point of maximum slope to be drawn as black. If your scene includes abrupt cliffs, increase the contrast to bring out the terrain features in the flatter areas. A value of zero removes the shading completely.

Occasionally, the landscape may appear to you to be ‘inside out’ (i.e. the valleys appear closer to you than the hills.)  This is simply an optical illusion, not a problem with the software. Changing the direction of lighting from west to east or vice versa will make it pop back the other way.

Why not print 3D on Toughprint Waterproof Paper from Memory-Map? paper

Camping with Bushnell PowerSync


A break in the English weather meant a perfect opportunity for a camping trip and what better chance for the Memory-Map team to test some new Bushnell products from our equipment section.

Sun was on the forecast so to harvest what we could the new Bushnell Solarwrap Mini-Max along with the Bushnell Powersync Battery Bar were packed. I really like the concept here of what Bushnell describes as ‘owning your own personal, portable powerplant’. Although a bit of a mouthful sentence, I can certainly relate to it! Running out of battery on your Camera or GPS is very annoying, especially when you’re following a route or finding lots of nice things to take pictures of.

Fortunately for us, both these products can be charged at home via a standard USB charger, so that I did and I also made sure to pack my GoPro, Smart phone and IPad, all at varying states of charge. I wouldn’t normally pack so many gadgets to go camping with though the plan was to carry a mix of devices to test the claimed charging times of the chargers. So with the car packed it was pointed south in the direction of Cornwall and we were off.

Once camp had been set I began playing with the chargers and first impressions were promising. The battery bar felt really solid and being rubber coated it was surprisingly lightweight. It has two rubber flexi-caps at either end which cover the USB ports offering a decent degree of protection against the elements. There are two USB slots on one side for charging up to two devices at once which was handy as there were two of us with phones in the red. The other end has a mini USB port for charging itself along with a battery monitor button and four LEDs to show you how much charge is left. The first thing I did was press this and thankfully all four were glowing strong, which was a good start!


With the sun still high in the sky I unrolled the Solarwrap Mini-Max which revealed a surprisingly compact scroll of 84 (Yes, I counted) individual solar charging cells. The design is pretty much the same as the battery bar with the two rubber end caps, LED battery monitor and one USB port for charging. What’s interesting is that Bushnell claims you can puncture cells on this and that it will continue working. Although I didn’t fancy testing this, it is certainly handy to know that it’s not super fragile and will continue to work if it takes a tumble or two.


To collect solar energy the Mini-Max needs to be laid facing the sun so just imagine it’s sunbathing and in this case I attached it to the sun-facing side of our tent by threading a guy rope through the riveted holes on its Velcro cover.


Right, now to the bit you’ve been waiting for, did they actually work? First up was the battery bar, we got two and a half full smartphone charges out of it. This was from the red right up to full. I was also using my phone while it charged and unplugged from it with one of the LED’s still glowing as it was no longer needed. Bushnell claim two full Smart phone charges though if you switched your phone off I think you’d get closer to three. What’s also nice is it charges at the same speed as being plugged into the wall – it is fast!

On to the Mini Max this one was also pre-charged at home so it’s quite difficult to gauge the direct solar input. What I do know is the device gave me almost a full charge on the GoPro and it still had four LEDs glowing as it got dark, which I was more than happy with. Bushnell says it can charge three action cameras from a single charge so I potentially squeezed a fourth out with the help from the glorious Cornish sunshine.

There you have it, only a brief overnight camping trip but enough evidence for me to be confident in adding these Bushnell devices to my kit bag. With modern devices now more powerful and feature packed this can often put a strain on battery lives so we certainly recommend carrying a backup, and these two get the Memory-Map stamp of approval.

Which map scale would suit you best?

HD-Great-Britain-Maps-lrOrdnance Survey (OS) is the mapping agency of Great Britain, providing detailed high quality maps of the country. First established in 1791, the Ordnance Survey eventually mapped Great Britain at a scale of one inch to the mile. Drawn on a larger scale than the final printed maps – two inches or six inches to the mile – these old maps show incredible detail.

In 1854 a scale of 25 inches was initiated, and by the end of the 1800s all cultivated areas were mapped at this scale, which showed every building in outline ground plan to a high standard of accuracy.

In our technologically advanced age, Memory-Map was the first company to licence OS map data to produce digital maps for outdoor recreation and their OS Landranger 1:50,000 and OS Explorer 1:25,000 maps look identical to the printed Ordnance Survey versions.

The main difference between the two map products is scale – the number of times that you would need to magnify the map for it to be the same size as the real world; or the number of times that the real world has been reduced in size to become the map.

OS Explorer (1:25k) Mapping

The OS Explorer Map is at 1:25000 scale (so 4cm on the map equals 1km in the real world). It shows great detail of the area the map is covering including footpaths, rights of way, open access land and the vegetation on the land. This is the map you would use for your outdoor activities such as walking, horse riding and off-road cycling.

OS Landranger (1:50k) Mapping

The OS Landranger Map is at 1:50000 scale (so 2cm on the map equals 1km in the real world). The map covers a larger area than the OS Explorer Map, but not in as much detail. You’ll still find footpaths, rights of way and some tourist information features on the map. While some of the detail is lost, such as open access land on this map – it is still possible to use it when out walking for navigation with your compass. This is the map you would use for days out or short breaks and even road cycling as a larger area is covered.

Using Memory-Map is the easiest and quickest way to get Ordnance Survey Explorer and Landranger maps onto your PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android device; turning your mobile into an outdoor GPS to make navigation safer, easier and more fun.

If you’re a history-buff, Memory-Map also have a complete selection of historical Ordnance Survey maps available for use across multi-platforms, either in singular packages or combined.

Toughprint Map helps Keith out of trouble, but not how you’d expect!

This is a true story. Many thanks to Memory-Map customer Keith Thomas who wrote:

“A couple of weeks ago I was cycling on gravel estate roads near Corrour in the Scottish Highlands with my 17 year old son when he suffered a blow-out of his front tyre. A stone had made a half-inch cut in the tyre through which the inner tube had bulged and burst. We had a spare tube but simply fitting that without repairing the cut in the tyre would have led to a repeat failure. After some thought about what we could do in a location about 10 miles from the nearest tarmac road, it occurred to me that I had a spare A4 map printed on your Toughprint paper. I folded this over a few times and inserted it inside the tyre to cover the cut, where it would be held in place by the inflated spare tube. This worked a treat and we completed our planned ride for the day without further problems! A great advertisement for the strength of your excellent product – thanks for creating such a versatile product, it saved our day!”

Here’s how he did it…a.264mmEstablish the location of the split in the tyre.

b.261mmFold and position your Toughprint map within the tyre.

c.264mmHold in place with your spare inner tube.

d.261mmOnce safely home, your map is still good to use… you can find the nearest bicycle repair shop!


So there you have it, Toughprint waterproof paper is so durable that in the right hands it can act as an emergency engineering solution! Well done Keith and thanks for sharing.


Do your adventures take you beyond mobile phone services?

SPOT Gen3 is the great new GPS satellite tracker and messenger which works where mobiles can’t reach, providing you with a critical, life-saving line of communication using 100% satellite technology.

4b717b54d2c513d455db3a0d49fd3615When your adventures take you beyond cell service, the SPOT Gen3, a personal GPS tracking device that everyone venturing outdoors can carry, uses satellite tracking to let family and friends know you’re safe and sound. If the worst happens, SPOT Gen3 will send emergency responders to your GPS at the push of a button.

Most trackers using mobile phone technology cannot help you when you lose the mobile signal – something which can happen quite frequently in the hills and valleys, woods or even in open countryside.

There are several features which come as standard and various extras through subscription.

Basic Features with your Gen3 (when combined with Basic Service & Tracking subscription)

SOS – In an emergency, transmit an SOS with your exact location to GEOS emergency response Coordination Centre to activate a rescue.
Check in – Let family and friends know you’re ok when you’re out of mobile phone range. Send a pre-programmed text message with GPS coordinates or an email with a link to Google Maps™ to your contacts with your location. With a push of a button, a message is sent via email or SMS to up to 10 pre-determined contacts and your waypoint is stored in your SPOT account for later reference. Your stored waypoints can be easily integrated into a SPOT Shared Page or SPOT Adventure account.
Help/SPOT Assist – Alert your personal contacts that you need help in non-life-threatening situations. Or use SPOT Assist for professional services on land or water (additional service required).
Motion Activated Tracking – A vibration sensor tells SPOT to send your GPS location when you are moving and to stop when you also stop. This conserves battery power and avoids sending duplicate tracks.

SPOT service 12 month subscription is required to activate all SPOT devices
Basic Annual Service & Tracking

Minimum subscription requirement for SPOT Gen3 includes unlimited predefined Custom, Check In, Tracking, Help and SOS messages. Tracking: 1 position every 10 minutes for 24 hours so you can share your adventures in near real time via SPOT Adventures or a SPOT shared page.

Enhanced tracking services – only available with SPOT Gen3
Unlimited Tracking Subscription

SPOT Gen3’s Unlimited Tracking allows you to choose your rate of tracking. Pre-set your SPOT Gen3 to send tracks at the speed of your adventures. Change your tracks to send every 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. SPOT Gen3 will send tracks at your chosen rate for as long as your device is turned on and moving (no need to re-set after 24 hours). Tracking doesn’t stop until you do.

Extreme Tracking subscription

Get all of the great features of Unlimited Tracking, but with the added ability to vary your track rate down to every 2 ½ minutes.

Don’t miss a step with increased track rates by adding this rugged, pocket-sized device to your essential gear to stay connected wherever you roam – available from Memory-Map.

Memory-Map Aviation Charts

mmMemory-Map Aviation Charts from NATS are the CAA VFR charts and look exactly the same and contain the same detail as the paper charts that pilots use in flight. They come complete with intuitive and easy to use software for pre-flight planning or on-board use with real time full colour chart display with GPS positioning. Each chart includes two licences for your PC, Adventurer GPS, iPhone, iPad or Android device.

A team of specialist cartographers have the job to ensure the UK’s aeronautical charts stay up-to-date and accurate. These charts contain the critical safety information that pilots have to rely on every day when flying in and out of UK airports. They cover a huge range of information including angles of approach and correct air traffic radio frequencies, through to the location of potential obstacles like wind turbines or possible local glider club activity.

These Visual Flight Rules charts have underlying Ordnance Survey mapping and are very detailed.

Everything a pilot might wish to know, from colour coded airspace classifications and military danger zones through to the location of power lines and airfields large and small is included. The chart specification is set by the CAA based on the ICAO international standards, but overall the cartographic team makes hundreds of updates to each new edition.

The most recent CAA chart update is the CAA 1:500k South Edition 42 and is available to download on PC, iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or tablet. Simply add the Memory-Map app and then copy or download your charts and routes. Remember, it’s a legal requirement for GB pilots to update and use current aviation charts.

Update now here.

The long road to mapping Great Britain.

This month sees the release of the latest updated Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain, which have been in existence for 225 years. But their genesis was even earlier.

os combo

The officially recognised date as the birth of Ordnance Survey, Britain’s mapping agency, is June 1791 but it has its roots in military strategy; the mapping of the Scottish Highlands following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

William Roy, a 21 year-old engineer, was tasked by the Board of Ordnance (the defence ministry of the day), with the initial small-scale military survey of Scotland, the first government-made survey of a substantial tract of the British Isles.

Beginning in 1747, it took eight years to complete what was known as the Great Map at a scale of 1:36 000 (1.75 inches to a mile). Roads, hills, rivers, types of land cover and settlements were recorded. Roy himself described it as more of a “magnificent military sketch than a very accurate map of the country.”

The surveying parties relied on simple surveying compasses to measure the angles, and chains up to 50 feet long to measure distance between important features. Much of the rest was sketched in by eye. Nevertheless, the map was a powerful tool as part of a broader strategy to open up access to the Highlands.

In 1763, 1766 and 1783 Roy made proposals for a complete official survey of Britain but all these proposals failed because the cost was considered excessive.

The real start of work which can be recognised as ‘Ordnance Survey’ came in 1783-4, when the Royal Societies of London and Paris worked out the relative positions of the astronomical observatories in their two cities by connecting them by a system of triangulation. Until the recent advent of GPS, triangulation was the universal means of providing a skeleton for controlling survey operations, and was the only feasible way of measuring distance across water and other obstacles where ground measurement by chains or tapes was impractical.

As the leading geodesist of the day the English part of the operation came under the Roy’s direction. His lifelong ambition was to produce a superior map of Britain, unparalleled in its accuracy and by the time of his death in 1790, with the London-Paris triangulation completed, he was thinking of using its extension as a basis for further survey work in Britain.

The Master-General of the Ordnance, who was sympathetic to Roy’s ideas, authorised the expenditure of £373.14s of national funds to purchase a newly-designed theodolite on 21st June 1791 and this date has since been taken as the official ‘foundation date’ of the Ordnance Survey.

By 1823 it had covered much of Britain.

The latest OS maps of Britain are now available across many platforms including the TX4 GPS and will soon be available for 7” tablets. You can even step back in time with historical OS maps from the 1800s, 1900s, 1920s and 1940s and see how OS maps have changed over time. All are available now from Memory-Map.

Taking Steps Back in Time

Historic maps can tell you the story of your local area, help you discover little known nuggets of information about bygone times and be used to compare a locality in the past with the present.


Printed maps date from the sixteenth century and generally show churches, large estates, villages and towns; although roads and individual buildings are few. A 1671 map of Bristol was based on a measured survey, although it still used the familiar bird’s-eye view style of the period.

The start of modern mapping began in the eighteenth century when more accurate surveys began to appear in the style of the flat ground plan we recognise today as a map, although significant buildings were still represented in elevation.

The 1747 Military Survey of Scotland was the forerunner of the Ordnance Survey, as a State-produced series of high-standard modern maps. Launched in response to the Jacobite rebellion it was completed in 1755. Drawn up at a scale of 1 inch to 1,000 yards, the Military Survey provides the first detailed maps of Scotland.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, maps continued to be produced by independent surveyors, but local authorities increasingly commissioned their own official surveys.

The Ordnance Survey was established in 1791 and eventually mapped Great Britain at a scale of one inch to the mile. Drawn on a larger scale than the final printed maps – two inches or six inches to the mile – they show incredible detail.

Even more helpfully for those interested in the history of buildings, a scale of 25 inches to the mile was initiated in 1854. By the end of the century all cultivated areas were mapped at the 25-inch scale, which showed every building in outline ground plan to a high standard of accuracy.

Memory-Map has a complete selection of historical Ordnance Survey maps available for use across multi-platforms, either in singular packages or combined.

England & Wales 1800s
Explore the landscape of the 1800s using data from the surveys of England and Wales between 1805 and 1874. These black and white maps were engraved by hand and show a largely rural landscape still reliant on horse and cart, and drovers trails rather than roads.

England & Wales 1900s
Explore the landscape of the 1900s and the late Victorian age. Taken from surveys conducted between 1896 and 1904 this title marks the growth of the railway, with over 18,000 miles of track covering England and Wales.

England & Wales 1920s
Explore the landscape of the 1920s. Using data from 1919 to 1926 and clearly showing the impact on the landscape of the age of the motor car. Roads cover the once rural landscape linking ever larger urban areas and colour is used for the first time to grade the suitability of roads for vehicles.

England & Wales 1940s
Explore the landscape of the 1940s where post-war urbanisation and changing land use is clear in the final title in the series. Using surveys made between 1945 and 1948, although the railway is at its peak, it is easy to see that the road has taken priority and the major cities of England and Wales are larger than ever before.

England & Wales 1800s-1940s Researcher’s Edition
You can explore the landscape of England and Wales over the last 200 years with all four Ordnance Survey collections in one. Ideal for anyone interested in the changing landscape or genealogy; this complete historical series provides you with up to 16,000km² from each era of historical mapping – 1800s, 1900s, 1920s and 1940s.

Historical OS Maps Scotland 1800s
Explore the landscape of Scotland in the 1800s using data from surveys of Scotland between 1856 and 1887. These black and white maps were engraved by hand and show a largely rural landscape.

Historic maps from Memory-Map make a great gift idea for the armchair historian in your life, and can prompt them to get out and about. While enjoying a walk through time you might even be sent off on a completely different course of interest and research.

OS Landranger vs OS Explorer maps – selecting the right one for your journey

Ordnance Survey maps are detailed high quality maps of Great Britain and Memory-Map were the first company to licence OS map data to produce digital maps for outdoor recreation. The Memory-Map OS Landranger 1:50,000 and OS Explorer 1:25,000 maps look identical to the printed OS versions – but what are the main differences for users and what are the benefits of each?


The main difference between the two maps is scale; the number of times the map would need to be magnified for it to be actual size (or the number of times that the real world has been reduced in size to become the map).

OS Explorer maps are at 1:25,000 scale, which means every 4cm on the map equals 1km in the real world. These popular maps show great detail including footpaths, rights of way, open access land and even vegetation which is very useful for walking, running, horse riding and off-road cycling. They are an essential for longer or more complex walks or for those going off the beaten track. They’re valuable too when kayaking or climbing. The detail shows every house, public facility or point of interest and provides the tools you need to locate yourself as well as finding the nearest pub after a hard days walk!

OS Landranger maps cover a wider area with a scale of 1:50,000, meaning every 2cm on the map equals 1 km on the ground. Because they cover a larger area than the OS Explorer map, they’re handy for planning a day out over a broader area and for getting a good sense of where you are going. However they don’t contain as much detail as the OS Explorer range, and you lose things like open access land. Footpaths, rights of way and some tourist information still feature on the Landranger maps and they can still be used for walking but are really ideal for days when you are covering longer distances, especially if you are exploring by car or doing road cycling.

Using Memory-Map is the easiest and quickest way to get Ordnance Survey Explorer and Landranger maps onto your PC, iPhone, iPad, or Android device; turning your mobile into an outdoor GPS to make navigation safer, easier and more fun.