It’s hard to improve on a great product. The Ordnance Survey Explorer maps are recognised not only throughout the outdoor world as among the very best maps you can buy, but millions of other people love them too – ecological surveyors, builders, emergency services, farmers, fishermen, photographers all swear by them. They are quite simply, amazing pieces of work.
On the courses I run for walkers and climbers we often discuss the pros and cons of the different types and scales of maps that are available to us in the UK, and one constantly recurring comment from my clients is, “If only the OS made maps on waterproof paper!”. Harvey maps have been printed on waterproof paper for a long time now, and unfortunately the only answers to this if you wanted to stick with the Ordnance Survey for your navigation were to either fold the map and put it into a map case, or to buy one that is laminated. Both of these options produce a map that is bulky, and hard to fit into a jacket pocket. Waterproof, yes. But not that easy to use.
I recently received a couple of maps from a company called MyMiniMap. One covered Cadair Idris, and the other covered Arenig Fawr – two of my most often trod local mountains. Coincidence? Not at all. One of the main selling features of MyMiniMap is that you can select the point you want at the centre of the map, and they print it and post it to you. The map comes on A3 size paper, and best of all, that paper is waterproof!
The map itself is produced using Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale mapping, although you can also opt for 1:50,000 scale if you prefer. I really like the idea of having a small map that covers exactly the area of land you want to explore. The maps I received did just that.
Field tests on a Mountain Skills course last weekend brought about quite a few comments on the MyMiniMap from my clients. Initial responses were that the size was just perfect (although one client pointed out that a quarter of the A3 size is taken up with the map cover and legend, rather than actually being a map). One other clients thought that one or two features were a little bit more difficult to see on the MyMiniMap than they are on the OS Explorer – he struggled to make out the edges of the open access land on the MyMiniMap, although I personally didn’t find this a problem.
Other than that, we all thought the MyMiniMap shows real promise. Additional features that I particularly like with these maps is that the grid referencing figures are very easy to read, as MyMiniMap have thoughtfully broken those 1km squares on the Northings and Eastings into 200m marks on the edges of the map. I also like the fact that the maps come in a little plastic pouch – yes the paper is waterproof, but I found that folding the map to the bit you wanted to use, then popping it back in the pouch actually gave you a very easy to handle map, and kept it cleaner than had I just slipped it into a jacket pocket. Unfortunately I did not fold mine along the original folds, and ended up with a discoloured wear mark near one edge, but that was very much my own fault!
So, would I buy these maps? Well, yes I would. I would find them particularly useful for my skills courses, as I can just give my candidates the grid reference for the centre of the map they need for whichever course they are coming on, and know that they’ll turn up with the right map, and at a much cheaper layout that if they were to buy the OS Explorer. My only real worry with MyMiniMap is that it would potentially be easy for an inexperienced navigator to walk off the edge of the map without realising it, and then not having the means to finding their way back on again. Yes, I know that could happen with any map – they have edges after all – but as these maps are deliberately produced very small I feel that there is a stronger likelihood of this happening. I could also see MyMiniMap being sold in cafes, B&Bs, guesthouses, hotels, and Tourist Information Centres to give visitors a useful map of a nearby walk or mountain that they might want to tackle.
MyMiniMaps can be produced for any part of the UK, and cost £4.99 each, including standard P&P. Clients on skills courses offered by Wild Walks Wales (http://www.wildwalkswales.co.uk/HillSkills.html) benefit from a 10% discount. Ask for the discount code when you book your course with us.
To start choosing your MyMiniMap now go to http://www.myminimap.co.uk