Let’s get back to the subject of OS maps. Masterpieces of information, and worthy of being viewed as little short of works of art. I can sit and pore over them for hours, even when I’ve never been to the area depicted. I suspect this is a bit of a guy thing, though my ex-wife liked maps. She was also the only woman I’ve ever met who didn’t turn a map upside down when we were heading south and she was navigating.

Lovely as they are to behold, OS maps have a couple of operational problems.

When folded, a Landranger is 13x24cm. For those who still think in old money, as I do, that’s 5¼” by 9½”. This means the map will fit into the specially designed thigh pocket on your squeaky Rohan trousers, ready for instant perusal.

That’s when it’s folded. When opened up, it’s about the size of a small tablecloth. This makes it pretty difficult to handle even on your living room floor where you can have room for manoeuvre. It makes it a complete bastard to handle in a Force 8 when you’re halfway up Cader Idris in the heaving rain. It’s also a complete bastard in the confines of a rally car, which is why WRC navvies use pace notes these days. Bloody amateurs. Where’s the skill in that, eh?

In the Army Cadets we were supplied with map carriers made of waterproof material with a transparent face of plastic. This was fine but did require the map to be folded in a way that wasn’t as it came from the printers. Lots of rally navvies had their own arcane methods of folding maps too. Mine had been refolded so many time there were thin worn bits along the creases.

However, if you are a mere mortal, you’ll want to refold the map to restore it to its original Rohan-pocket dimensions, and I have to tell you it’s the devil’s own job to do that. You pretty much have to be an origami Zen master 10th Dan. Doing it in the wilds can easily see you driven mad, or swept to your death by a sudden gust of wind on Striding Edge.

I’m still sticking to my contention that you can’t beat a map, and you’ll agree with me when the next apocalyptic solar storm takes out all the GPS satellites.

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