The Options

W hen it came to deciding how I was going to navigate my way up the country there were two main options available:

  1. Digital maps
  2. Paper maps

Always having been someone who likes to be prepared for pretty much anything I decided to opt for both types of maps, as well as having my iPhone with me.

I wasn’t 100% comfortable with relying on one form of maps before I set off; what if I used paper maps and got lost? What if my batteries ran out on my GPS device? What if there wasn’t a mobile signal?

In hindsight though, I could probably have completed the walk using either digital or paper maps, but, well, hindsight’s a wonderful thing isn’t it? I actually completed most days just using my paper maps, having my GPS handy for those moments when you second-guess yourself. It’s amazing how quickly it would show me that I was on the wrong path even when I was 100% sure I was right from checking my map!

I did also use my GPS to quickly plot alternative routes on the fly, which meant I had a very good idea on the expected distance etc. as soon as I’d decided on a route. This was very helpful when I decided to divert into Wolverhampton, especially as it wasn’t covered by the paper maps I had with me!

Digital Maps

I did a fair amount of research into which GPS device to get, ultimately deciding on the Satmap Active 10 Plus GPS with full GB mapping. It came with a map card of the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger maps range for the whole of Great Britain.

Once I’d figured out my intended route, and I’d plotted it on all of my paper maps, I got to the task of generating the routes so that they could be loaded onto my GPS device.

There are many paid for and free services out there on the interwebs for generating routes and exporting them. I originally plotted the route files I loaded onto my GPS using Where’s The Path, which was perfectly adequate for the task.

Having replotted all the day’s routes since getting back from the walk I can recommend Map My Walk as it’s easy to use and allows you to easily export the route files once you’re done plotting. The only drawback it has is it doesn’t use OS Maps, opting to use Google maps instead.

There is however another great website I found called Walk Highlands. They have a very good “route planner, and if you register with the site – which is free – you’ll be able to plot routes using 1:25,000 scale OS maps! I know it’s called “Walk Highlands” but the site actually covers the whole of mainland UK.

Plotting each day’s route was no small undertaking and took many, many hours to complete. But, it was definitely worth it.

Satmap Active 10 Plus GPS

Paper Maps

H aving made the decision to use paper maps I then had to decide what type of map I was going to use. There are only two real options for a LEJOG walk, both of which are from Ordnance Survey:

  1. Landranger maps range, with a 1:50,000 scale
  2. Explorer maps range, with a 1:25,000 scale

In case you didn’t know, the scale of a map is the ratio of the distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground. For example, on a 1:25 000 scale Explorer map, every 1 cm on the map is equal to 250 m on the ground.

Already having the full UK map at 1:50,000 scale on my GPS I decided to use the 1:25,000 Explorer maps as I aimed on using them as my primary navigation aids, using the GPS as a back-up.

As you can imagine, opting for the smaller 1:25,000 scale maps meant I needed to buy a lot of maps to cover my intended route…54 maps to be precise! You’ll be unsurprised to hear that 54 maps actually take up a lot of space and weigh a fair weight when they’re all together.

Fortunately I’m blessed with having family and friends up the country and they all very kindly agreed to take a stash of maps for me so that I could grab them from them as I passed. So, I sorted out the different stages, posted them off, and arranged to meet up and swap maps as I made my merry way up the country – thanks everyone for helping!

The table below gives a breakdown of the stages of the walk based on when I picked up my bundles of maps. If you’re wondering why the total maps adds up to more than the 54 maps I mentioned above, it’s because the final map of each stage was also used as the first map on the following stage.

There are links to more detailed pages in the table if you’re interested in knowing more about which maps I used for each stage.

Select the “+” symbol to see all of the row’s contents. The table is restricted due to your device’s screen size.