Stimulate the Senses! Our Top Walks in Wales and Southern England

The Rumps

Looking for a short break this spring? Walking in Wales and Southern England can be an extremely rewarding prospect at any time of year, but particularly so during spring. There are hundreds of footpaths covering a huge variety of locations that can cater for all tastes and we are truly spoilt for choice. It’s hard to pick any favourites but we’ve had a go anyway! Here’s a selection of the walks our team have enjoyed over the years. Think of these as inspiration if you’re ever fortunate to find yourself near these wonderful locations, we’ve also listed the best map choice that covers each area.

Worm’s Head – Rhossili Bay, Wales (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Wales)

Worms Head, Rhossili

This rocky promontory resembles a serpent semi-submerged in water, winding its way out to sea from Rhossili Bay. Historically named ‘Wurm’ meaning ‘dragon’ in old English, the island is joined to the mainland by a rocky causeway and features the large Inner Head, and a Low Neck leading further out to the Outer Head. The headland is one mile long and the highest point is about 150 feet.

The walk itself is only a couple of miles long that races against the tide; the rocky, jagged causeway is only exposed for 2.5 hours before and after low tide, so walkers should always check the tide times before they set off over the causeway.

Looking north from the top you might be able to spot buried in the sand the wooden hull of the submerged wreck of the ‘Helvetia,’ a Norwegian oak barque which ran aground on Rhossili Beach in November 1887. The remains of the ‘Helvetia’ are one of the most photographed locations on Gower and as a result is the most famous shipwreck in the area.

Offa’s Dyke – Wales (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Wales)

Winding through eight counties, Offa’s Dyke crosses the English-Welsh border many times in its 177-mile length. This large linear earthwork is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757-796, who is believed to have ordered its construction. The dyke traverses low ground, hills and rivers and is recognised as Britain’s longest monument and would take two weeks of walking to complete!

Protected as a scheduled monument, some of its route is followed by the Offa’s Dyke Path that runs between Liverpool Bay in the north and the Severn Estuary in the south. A challenging hike, from the Vale of Clwyd to Prestatyn is around 20 miles and traverses through lavender-set hills and pastoral lands. Wildfowl and wading birds populate the River Dee estuary at the start of the walk, and further on you will experience incredible views of western Snowdonia from the Vale’s peak. The walk concludes on Prestatyn’s sandy beach.

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path – Wales (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Wales)

Pembrokeshire Coast

Opened in 1970, the 35,000 feet of ascent and descent of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is said to be equivalent to climbing Mount Everest. The route twists and turns through 186 miles of breath taking coastal scenery including steep limestone cliffs, red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands and flooded glacial valleys.

Lying almost entirely within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park the trail displays an array of coastal flowers and bird life, as well as evidence of human activity from Neolithic times to the present. Borough Head has some great cliff-top walks blanketed in spring flowers at this time of year too.

In its entirety the Coastal Path is a formidable physical challenge, yet it can also be enjoyed in shorter sections, accessible to people of all ages and abilities, with the small coastal villages, like Tenby, strung out along its length offering welcome breaks and added enjoyment. Most visitors tend to walk a short section at a time, adding a piece to the jigsaw each time they visit.

Arlington Bluebell Walk – East Sussex (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Southern England)

Sun shines through beech and birch trees on a Dorset hillside

The Arlington Bluebell Walk is only open in the spring at the height of Bluebell season. Since 1972 the walk and farm trail, based at Bates Green Farm, has developed into seven different and interesting walks over three working farms.

One walk of 2.5 miles through Beaton’s Wood is fully wheelchair accessible (with mobility scooters available to hire). In this wood you will see white anemones followed by panoramic beds of bluebells which have been well established for centuries.

Another circular walk is called the Green Walk which is also 2.5 miles long and has stiles to negotiate. It leads to Parkwood Farm where a special viewing gallery allows you to see the milking of a large herd of dairy cows every afternoon between 3.00pm and 5.00pm.

Along the walks there are signs illustrating the various countryside flora and fauna you will experience which makes it a great interactive day for all the family.

Thames Path National Trail – Southern England (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Southern England)

Marsh Lock, Henley-On-Thames

The Thames Path is one of the most distinctive and varied walking trails in the country, a route covering 184 miles of the UK’s best-known river from its source in the Cotswold hills to the sea. Passing historic towns, peaceful water meadows, rural villages and famous landmarks the trail cuts through the heart of London to finish at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich.

The designated walks are split into sections, so you can begin at either end, or just enjoy a walk anywhere along the middle. The pathways make for easy walking and with much of the river being a busy waterway, there is usually plenty of activity to watch.

Stopping at the Thames Barrier, the trail doesn’t follow the whole of the river’s journey but follows a good deal of it, and as it goes along you see changes in the river. At one end it’s a narrow rural waterway, and at the other, a massive expanse of industry and commerce.

St Michael’s Mount – Cornwall (2018 OS Explorer 1:25,000 Southern England)

St Michaels Mount near Penzance in Cornwall

St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall is a small tidal island in Mount’s Bay. The island is a civil parish linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway which is passable between mid-tide and low water. Managed by the National Trust, the castle and chapel have been home to the St Aubyn family since around 1650 but the earliest buildings on the summit date back to the 12th century.

You can stroll across the causeway at low tide to the island of St Michael’s Mount and setting out from the beachfront at the Godolphin Arms it takes just minutes to walk across the ancient cobble causeway. The village and its bustling harbour make it an idyllic place to wander, whatever the season and be sure to try some of the local ice cream and cream teas on offer on the island (they are delicious!)

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!

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…

mmtp1..so 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.

 

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.

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.

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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?

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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.

 

Got a soggy map? Should have used Toughprint

mmtoon1At Memory-Map we provide the most up-to-date products in the modern mapping and GPS fields, including digital Ordnance Survey maps, marine and aviation charts, and GPS maps for Adventurer and Android.

Some people though are still quite happy to take their printed topographical maps out into the field. Apart from the traditional aesthetics associated with using a paper map, the benefits include the fact they never lose their power source or fail to work because of unreliable service. Paper maps are still an essential back-up when exploring out and about.

For those people that prefer using printed paper for their primary mapping though, experience has shown that maps get damaged out there, especially when the weather is bad. Out in the elements, battling the wind and rain, traditional maps tear at the creases and the paper gets soggy. Some people prefer to keep their traditional maps safe at home and to take copies into the field – expendable copies.

GPS technology has certainly had an impact in mapping, but so too has the technology behind printed mapping. Toughprint waterproof paper is a great example of how old and new can collide in the world of navigation.

Toughprint paper has a micro-porous surface, is suitable for use on colour and mono printers and copiers, and can be printed on both sides. Because the paper is waterproof it is ideal for printing maps for outdoor use as it resists crumples and tears and any collected moisture or dirt can be wiped clean off.

But its uses don’t end with just printing maps. Because it has the capability to hold vibrant colours and make crisp clear high definition photographic prints, Toughprint waterproof paper can also be used to print anything that needs to be outside; from outdoor menus of alfresco restaurants, directional signage for rallies or orienteering events, cataloguing plants and flowers in a garden, on site building engineers, supporters at team events, outdoor market signage and, I suppose, to street protesters.

So if the next time you’re out and about this winter, and you return home with a map in several pieces or just a soggy damp mulch in your pocket, think about investing in a ream of Toughprint waterproof paper before your next journey.

Why do tracklog distance and ascent differ between GPS and mobile apps?

Those of us who have taken to technology to aid us in our navigation and record GPS tracklogs and stats for the routes that we enjoy can now use either a standalone GPS unit or a mobile phone with a GPS app.

However anyone who has used both to record details of a walk will know that the data recorded (for example distance and ascent) is never the same even when used side-by-side on the same walk. We are often asked what it is about GPS that makes this happen?

Well, a GPS is made up of many things including an aerial to receive the signal from the satellites, a chip to process the data once received and then the software to calculate and record position.

Imagine a portable radio as an analogy; they are all designed for receiving the same signal, but the quality of aerial and electronics in your radio makes a huge difference as to whether it will pick up the broadcast and the quality of sound you’ll hear. Similarly every GPS is capable of receiving the same satellite signals but those with better aerials will receive more satellite signals and the more you can receive the more accurate your position.

A good standalone GPS unit will generally have a better aerial and better processing, but mobiles are catching up fast and try different mobile apps to see if the app itself makes a difference. Of course we’d recommend that the Memory-Map app is the first one you should test…so try a FREE Test Drive and compare stats with your own or a friends GPS next time you go for a walk.

We’d love to hear your results!

Dedicated GPS vs Smartphone GPS

TX3 blogGarmin’s Android-based Monterra of 2013 could download apps and do pretty much everything a smartphone could do; except of course make a phone call.

But the waterproof, impact resistant hybrid phone from Memory-Map that makes calls, downloads apps, takes photos, plays music – and works as a dedicated, fully-featured GPS addressed that ‘communication problem.’

The TX3 is a mix of Memory-Map’s mapping know-how, the Android operating system, and hardware from a partner brand called Seals.

The handset comes with mapping for the whole of Britain at either OS Landranger scale 1:50,000 (£299) or Explorer 1:25,000 (£369). Or you can pay £449 for the Platinum package – Streetmap, Landranger and Explorer, together on the same phone.*

In comparison with an iPhone, it’s clear the TX3 has the look and size of a phone rather than a GPS unit, meaning it’s truly pocket-size. But it comes with a waterproof and impact-proof casing and in reality you could use your TX3 as your only smartphone.

It’s probably more likely you’ll keep your regular phone and use the TX3 as your main GPS and ‘back-up’ phone, with a Pay-As-You-Go SIM so you can make phone calls in an emergency. We believe that after several months’ use with the TX3 though, users might switch and make the TX3 their only phone when their main phone contract is up for renewal.

The TX3 uses the excellent Memory-Map functionality, which is exactly the same as you’ll find on the Memory-Map Android app. Using the Android system, the TX3 can also add other apps, take photos and store music, and that’s something to dance about.

* Prices as at 22.09.2015