I am an old fashioned navigator, I like to have a paper map spread on a table when planning a route. I like to unfold it in a forest and check my progress. I like to use a compass or the sun as a guide
Nowadays you can do marvelous things on a phone or computer, zooming in on OS maps, marking a route and downloading it for offline use. The problem with modern technology is that it demands access to a power supply and a reliable bit of kit.
When Issy and I set off from Dover beach we had two devices. These were meant to provide navigation, phone calls, photos videos and sound recordings. I had spare batteries, but my screen was on the blink. Issy’s screen worked but her device was cleverly designed so you can’t switch batteries and the power drained rapidly with all the demands we placed on it.
Our friend Will Parsons had kindly sent us a route plan which we could access if our phones worked, but we soon discovered these expensive gadgets were not to be relied on.
We headed straight for the tourist information office, where a map of South East England set us back a fiver. Now we were confident that we wouldn’t get hopelessly lost.
On the second leg of the walk my phone was being fixed, so the whole burden of recording and navigating fell on Issy’s phone. In the evenings I used a tablet to investigate the next day’s route, noting down the directions and names of streets or paths we would take. With these archaic scraps of paper we found our way.
The only time we had to retrace our steps was when what appeared on maps to be a footbridge over the Medway turned out to be an inaccessible gantry in the middle of a wasteland. It was unseasonably hot as we picked our way nervously across the mud, intimidated by the sight of a modern troll’s lair, littered with discarded cider cans and tarpaulins.
We have learned not to rely too heavily on electronic devices. We will set our course North-West and keep on walking.
In the meantime, maps and charts are a fascinating way of seeing the world, as the examples below will testify.
Thanks to Dave at Splashmaps for these two beauties: waterproof, breathable, scrunchable, wearable. Good for large-scale planning and make an attractive table-cloth.
And thanks to Will Parsons at The British Pilgrimage Trust for coaching me in the use of OS and Memory-map, and for dragging me into the 21st Century! See below for a “screen shot”.
Here are some curious maps I’ve spotted recently:
Thanks to Billy for supplying a 2004 OS map of Kent and to Will for supplying routes from Dover to Canterbury and guiding us on Day 2.