Well, one thing I have discovered is essential when out on Caching adventures (Particularly cache trails/series’) is a map detailing footpaths. I guarantee that whenever we take a map out with us we won’t need it and will find the footpaths easily, however when you don’t you get lost! It’s just sod’s law. Some footpaths are so badly managed it’s unbelievable and it can be a real maze! It’s such a horrible feeling when you think you may be trespassing on somebody’s land. How am I going to explain why I am there?
“Erm, sorry Mr. Farmer with your shotgun and big snarling dog, I was looking for a tupperware box full of crap that I don’t really want, however if I could just get to it and sign the damp, decomposing piece of paper inside it I can log a find on a website. and get my numbers up. Trying to steal your cows? No, honestly, I’m not the only person that does it… It’s called ‘GeoCaching’…Google it…Oh you don’t have a computer in your barn… Erm… Maybe you could… *BANG*”
I can’t describe the relief you feel when you see a footpath marker that confirms that you’re OK… If only you had a map! (Note: realistically though they can’t actually shoot you and are only allowed to use reasonable force to remove you from their land, i.e. ask you to leave. As long as you haven’t done any damage to their land the good old “Trespassers will be prosecuted” signs are pretty meaningless! I’m not saying it’s ok to trespass as it really isn’t, just that you probably won’t end up dead if you do so accidentally! 😉 For more information on UK footpath laws, see here for more details.
OS maps are relatively inexpensive, however if you’re a regular cacher you’re soon going to run out of finds in your area and you’ll need another map, and another, and another, and it soon mounts up! Not only that, but you’re going to have to carry them around in your rucksack and then open the big old things up. URGH!
So, the first pointer is a free OS map website: http://explore.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/you can enter the location and zoom into it. It’s OK, but you can’t get a great map size from it. OK for a quick scout around and as other people can create routes on there you can find them as well.
My second pointer is the great site http://www.walkjogrun.net. I used this site extensively to plot my running routes and calculate how far I ran before I got a Garmin Forerunner 50 to keep track of my miles (A great investment!) and following that http://www.cycle-route.com/. Both sites allow you to plot your routes, but obviously the routes pre-created at walkjogrun favor those going on foot, and those on cycle-route favor those on bikes needing to find cycle routes. You could use either to plot your routes though and print a bit of a map. I favor walkjogrun, it’s nice and simple to use.
Online OS maps (Footpaths)
StreetMap is my favorite site for finding OS maps to print: http://www.streetmap.co.uk/ There are a couple of views that allow you to view the footpaths. I use this to construct a map. I then hit the <prt scrn> key on my keyboard which takes a snapshot of the screen that you can see on your monitor. I then paste this into Paint and crop it. I do this a few times and stick the maps together to cover the trail and then print it off. Sure, it’s a little bit of messing around but it’s handier than carrying around a huge OS map of the area!
And two more worth a mention…
Another good site for footpaths is Multimap, http://www.multimap.com for pretty much the same thing. And finally OpenStreetMap an open source map of the world where anyone can add their footpaths (A bit like wikipedia really) It’s pretty neat, but doesn’t give you those “official” OS accurate footpaths that the other two sites do.
I didn’t realise until last night that all cache pages allow you to view the cache location on a different map website. If you scroll down to the “For online maps…” section you can click the links to the different sites. Very handy!