The opportunities or reason to print a paper map these days are becoming few as maps and apps become perfect friends.
That said the thrill of unfolding an OS Explorer Map, showing a place you are about to visit for the first time can be a heady and ultimately very useful experience.
I love my map drawer and like nothing better than adding to it when heading to a yet unexplored area of the country or indeed scanning through the numbers of my current collection to find one that covers an area previously trodden.
Don’t get me wrong, I love plotting a walk on an app, dropping points down, deleting going back, seeing immediate distances and guestimates for how long the route will take.
But before this I like to indulge in the topography of the surrounding area and an OS explorer Map is perfect for this. Colour, lines, symbols, and shapes on paper all combine to create this. The first couple of minutes is all about introducing yourself to the local area, find where you are staying, acknowledging larger nearby towns, coastline, large woodland areas, main routes into the area. This is quickly followed by a period where you are drawn to elements that catch your eye, maybe an interesting name or an area where the beauty of map data on printed paper just draws your eye.
With this basic knowledge acquired I head onto the internet to research ‘things to do’. Walks, pubs, and countryside are my first searches followed by entertainment for kids, restaurants, food producers and wild swimming spots.
As I find my personal attractions, they get highlighted on my paper map and in turn take me on small moments of map exploration in the immediate surrounding areas. Found attractions get linked by a footpath and then the map gives me a place or point of interest that I had not read about and again I return to my computer to research.
And so, this study of place begins to give me knowledge, confidence, and excitement of my soon to be enjoyed trip.
I know some readers will consider marking your map as sacrilegious, but I wholly embrace it and indeed recommend it! You are left with a brilliant piece of personal mapping that will act as a reminder of your adventures in the years that follow.