Plot multiple caches on an OS map

I discovered a couple of websites today that allow you to upload a GPX routes file for it to be plotted on an OS map. This is very nearly exactly what I’ve been wanting all of these months! I wanted something to plot on Geocache trails on, however I have worked out a way I can edit my Geocache GPX files to be more route GPX files which show each cache (waypoint) on the trail.

As I haven’t found anything that will let you upload a Geocaching GPX and just show you where each one is on an OS map I’ve found a great workaround…

The final result

Step 1
Download your PQ containing your trails

Step 2
In GSAK, import your PQ and apply a filter that allows you to only see the caches that you are interested in.

Step 3
In GSAK, choose ‘View’ –> ‘Add/Delete Columns…’. Click the ‘Clear All’ button and tick the ‘Waypoint name’, ‘Longitude’ and ‘Latitude’ columns.

GSAK View showing just name, lon, and lat

Step 4
Set the Latitude/Longitude Display Format to ‘Decimal Degrees’

Ensure the view settings are correct

Step 5
Save the view. Click ‘View’ –> ‘Save Current View’. I called mine ‘LongLat’

Save the current view

Step 6
Now, Click ‘File’ –> ‘Export’ –> ‘CSV or TXT’

Step 7
Give your file a logical name, un-tick ‘Use Defaults’, set the View to your created one, and choose ‘CSV’ as the file type.

Ensure you select your new saved view

Step 8
Open the file in Excel (Or you could use free spreadsheet software, like that included in Open Office for example).

Step 9
The first thing to do is get your rows in cache order, i.e. cache 1, 2, 3, etc. Excel has a good few functions in it that can help you get an order. I’ve used an additional column at the end (Column D) of my results. The cache names are “Way Down West ##” with ## being the number. As it is mostly the last two characters of the name that show its number, in cell D1 I enter the formula: =RIGHT(A1,2) this means use the characters on the end of the text in cell A1.

Use Excel's functions to speed up ordering

Next click on cell D1 and drag the handle in the bottom right hand corner all the way down to the last row that contains cache data and the formula will copy all the way down. You may have to format the cell to text and do some editing to caches 1 to 9 to change their names to “01”,”02″,”03″, etc. but at the end of it you should be able to sort your data by this number in column D and get the caches in numerical order.

Step 10
Do the sort. In Office 2007, Click the Data tab –> Sort –> Column D, Values, A to Z. You may be prompted on how to sort. Tell it “Sort anything that looks like a number, as a number” and eventually you will have the trail in order.

Use Excel's sort to finish your trail ordering

Just basically do whatever you can to get the trail in order. The same method won’t work for all trails, it depends on how the owner has named their caches.

All in order. Hoorah!

Step 11
Now, open up Notepad and paste in the following text:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<gpx version="1.1"

Step 12
Add a few blank lines and paste the following text below. Our trail data is going to go in the middle:


The GPX template

Step 13
You can remove all of the data in column D now. Paste the following formula in cell D1:

=CONCATENATE("<rtept lat=""",B1,""" lon=""",C1,""">","<name>",A1,"</name>","</rtept>")

Again, click the handle in the bottom right hand corner and drag it down through all of the rows containing cache data.

Use the concatenate function to construct the GPX text

Step 14
Highlight all of the data in column D and copy it, then paste it into your template GPX file below the text enterred in Step 11, and above the text enterred in Step 12.

The final GPX file

Step 15
Save the file and it’s now all ready for plotting…

Step 16
Fire up your Internet browser and navigate to

And there we have it! An OS map with our cache trail!

(You could also do the same sort of thing at but I prefer the other as it will mark the waypoints as well. Maptogps will just show the route)

Wot? No Waypoints? šŸ˜‰

Step 17
On the site click the ‘Load GPX file’ link in the top left, then click ‘Browse’, select the GPX file you created, and then click ‘Load’

Load the GPX file up to the website

Step 18
And we’re done! You now have your trail on an OS map. Zoom in to 1:25,000 scale (i.e. so you can see the footpaths) and then use the
button on your keyboard to take screenshots of each section of the map. You can then copy and paste these into an image editing program (I just use paint), crop them and glue them together.

The final result

Another useful feature is that it will tell you the total distance of the trail in the top left hand side corner.

Fantastic! I will never get lost again… well… šŸ˜‰


7 Responses to “Plot multiple caches on an OS map”

  1. Hiding a GeoCache – A Comprehensive Guide « GeoCass UK GeoCaching Says:

    […] How about a small OS map with your cache on it on the cache page? You could take a print screen from the Streetmap website and place it in the description, or if you are laying a trail, how about following my previous post on how to mark a cache trail on an OS map. […]

  2. Rddhockey18 Says:

    Cass, this is spot and indeed on, spent the whole weekend looking for something like this.

    However, can this be adapted to just place the waypoints only and not join them up?

    • geocass Says:

      Glad it is of use to you. I too spent forever searching for something like this!!! It can be done, I do it, but it’s not straight forward.

      Load your GPX file into it and take a print screen. Paste this into Photoshop. Now on the website hit the clear button to remove all of the markers and just show an empty shot of the area. Screenshot it and paste this into Photoshop as a layer behind the previous one. Now on the layer with the markers on use the magic wand tool to select all the blue lines and delete them. As the area is showing behind it will look neat and not leave white gaps.

      It is a pain, but I do this for my cache hides to provide a map. It’s also good as you can see all of your caches at once to double check you haven’t mistyped a coord!

      If you don’t have Photoshop an image editing program that supports layers is fine. Perhaps GIMP? As that’s free.

      Enjoy šŸ™‚ Cass

  3. ds8300 Says:

    Discovered your geocaching blog the other day and find it very interesting and educational. If you are interested in cross linking to my blog I would be very pleased. My blog is

    I was intending to make a comment to this blog post but decided it would be difficult to add the pictures, so I have added my comments with supporting screen shots to my own blog. (A temporary measure).

    There is a shorter way to get a sorted list in GSAK than you suggest and you may find it useful. This uses the field UserSort and a tweak to the Options document. (Ctrl A).

    Step 1
    Start by setting the User Sort Current value to 0 and the Increment By value to 1.

    Step 2
    Filter out the caches on the track you want to follow and manually add the sort order by double clicking in the appropriate cell one at a time in the order you want them sorted. The result is roughly what you achieved in Excel.

    Step 2a (optional)
    If you make a mistake when using the User Sort you can purge the listing by doing a Global Replace. Replace User Sort with “blank field”. That will clear the list and you can then go back to step 1 and reset the counters. It’s good practice to do this after extracting your track waypoints.

    Step 3
    Export as a CSV file and continue to manipulate it in Excel as described.

    What would be really great (a challenge for you) is to get a macro in GSAK to do this.
    -Filter out columns manually?
    -Sort manually?
    -Concatenate each line to get the needed XML format
    -Add some XML preamble text
    -Create and save a text file

    You could also use the Google Maps API and really get advanced. I started playing with it but don’t have the time or skills to get it working really well. A simple use is seen here

    I hope that this input is of use to you. Keep up the great work with the blog and enjoy geocaching.

    • geocass Says:

      Hi Martin,
      Thanks for the comment. Definitely up for a cross linking, I’ll add you to my links list when I next update it.
      Thanks for the steps on getting a sorted list, I’ve just followed them on a quick example and hey it works! Thanks for adding your blog post about it too, very, very useful with the pics. I’ll update my post and add a link to your entry for a better sort method. I hadn’t even noticed the usersort column before.
      Since writing that entry I’ve discovered a new site which I’m totally raving about, and must admit I don’t have that much call for sorting my GSAK data anymore (But probably will in the future). With the new site, CACH’EYE you can produce a ‘To do’ list by clicking each cache, and also draw a route between them measuring the distance to get the order right and my mini tutorial/review for it is here.

  4. Comments on another great geocaching blog « Geocaching with DS8300 Says:

    […] day and found it very interesting and educational. I was intending to make a comment to the blog geocass but decided it would be difficult to add the pictures, so I have written my own blog […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s