The joy of a real map rediscovered

In this post I have been tempted beyond the pyshcoheographical confines of ST 6280. Leaving the confines of Bradley Stoke behind as I explored the landscape revealed in an unfolded map.

The perfect Digital map of the UK

I have cartographicaly explored Grid square ST 6280 has up to this point through the excellent Ordnance Survey Get a Map app. This brings the whole of the OS explorer series only a click away on the Kindle. It’s ability to seamlessly fly around the country through the media of 1:25000 is a map lovers dream come true. The mountains and lowlands are there, the farmlands and urban landscapes are there, coast and estuary, hill and valley, all a quick download away.

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Paper is back

And yet, this weekend I re-tasted the pleasures of a traditional map, and what joy that rediscovery was.

OS 155 (Explorer series Bristol and Bath)  was bought with the sole purpose of being able to explain to my wife where we could go exploring around Bristol.  It seemed much easier to finger trace routes on a spread out map then scroll and zoom around a small Kindle HD6 screen. But as soon as that un-creased, un-damaged map was opened for the first time I knew that there would be more to the map then a simple visual support to justify hikes through fascinating landscapes.

Looking beyond the immediate

The wide open expanse of the map was a revelation compared to the narrow window of the Kindle display. In an instant so much more of the landscape made sense. How all its components interrelated, how the topology played out across the miles portrayed and how mankind had played out its history in this corner of the world.

The OS Explorer Map (155) Bristol and Bath on Amazon >

Knots of Geography

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Within seconds though, a far more important advantage of the paper map revealed itself. Fascinating locations to started to bubble up through the symbology. Locations that demanded visiting, demanded exploring. This are the knots of ge

ology, landscape and history that promise a reward to any inquisitive visitor.

These are the map readers equivalent to the Psychogeographers psychological pivot points.

Those seconds soon turned to minutes, and those minutes soon resulted in a collection of potential explorations. Something that did not occur in weeks of wandering through the digital landscape on the Kindle.

Where did it lead me?

It lead me to canals, aquaducts, Autumn colours, tea gardens, mills and railways, used  and disused, a WW1 war veteran and the birth place of one of the most important maps in the world. It also lead me to the realisation that

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William Smith’s house at Tucking Mill, the world’s first geological map was created here

there is no other publication in the world as intense for exploring with the imagination then the OS 1:25000, the map lovers map; and long may it stay so .


William Smith’s Map

wp-1508263797014.jpg The map mentioned above is William Smith’s geological map, the birthplace mentioned is Tucking Mill near Monkton Combe. The map I am sure will form the subject of a future post, but if you want to learn more about its fascinating story I recommend reading Simon Winchester’s book, ‘The Map that Changed the World’.

Search for the Map that Changed the World on Amazon>


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