Free maps for your Garmin GPSr from Open Street Map

Since I purchased our Garmin GPSr I have always relied on the Garmin Great Britain TOPO maps to “show us the way”. This however, isn’t the only option for maps on our handheld GPSr’s. There is a free option – Open Street Map.

Map options

Garmins come with a worldwide basemap installed. It’s not very exciting though. Some sea, land, a few roads and rivers, etc. To start seeing contours, minor roads, footpaths and more detailed terrains then you need something else. There are a few options for UK cachers…

An example of the base map - No footpaths

There are the Garmin TOPO Great Britain maps. These show countours, roads, rivers, POI’s trig points, and some tracks and paths. They retail at £150. We’ve used these for about a year, and despite Garmin stating the data is provided by the Ordnance Survey not all footpaths are included, and in some cases there are footpaths included that we have walked over to only to be confronted by a gate that says “PRIVATE” on it. The maps are OK. I can’t say they are great.

The Garmin TOPO maps - Some footpaths, minor roads, forests, etc.

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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

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Automatically display cache names on maps

You may have seen my previous posts where I mentioned how I knock up my cache maps using paint and enter the cache names over the top to prepare a map for my travels with the caches clearly identified on it. Well, I had created all of my trails in GSAK, got them all nice and tidy and thought “I need to make a map” however, I thought rather than creating a map of over 1150 caches on it and manually labelling them maybe, just maybe there is a better way! 😀

So, I posted a message on the Geocaching forums and a lovely UK user got back to me. (I must say everyone on the Groundspeak forums seems so friendly, it’s great!) And YES there are ways to do it…

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Streetmap 50k and 25k custom URLs in GSAK

I’m currently working on a big review of GSAK for the blog. I’m pitching it as a “My thinking process” review where I reveal features as I discover them, mention features that I think are the most useful, and add some little tutorial bits for the essentials so that you don’t have to read too much documentation if you want to get started quickly and already are quite confident using computers.

Streetmap is usually my mapping site of choice, so I thought I’d work on a custom URL for it. GSAK shows British OS grid references, however they are 5 digit ones (Anyone know what use 5 digit ones are?) however streetmap and all use 6 digit ones therefore, trying to get GSAK to link to it was a bit of a nightmare. I eventually got there in the end using:,%lon but this gave me more of a street view zoom level. Passing a zoom level would only work using the grid references, which I couldn’t use due to GSAK’s being 5 digit ones…

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Making your own Ordnance Survey map (For FREE!)

So in yesterday’s post I mentioned that it is a bit of a pain carrying around big OS maps with you and that I often create my own. For those visitors not quite so computer literate I thought I’d just do a quick run through of how I do it. It’s really simple and you don’t need any additional software as we’re going to use good old Microsoft Paint…

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Essential Caching Maps

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?

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