Newsletter > Newsletter archive > November 2013
OS Explorer price drop
Up here in Cumbria the fells have a topping of fresh white snow, like the icing on a cake. There’s a hint of Christmas in the air, even with the autumn leaves just about clinging to the trees. For those who use digital mapping applications and GPS devices Christmas has indeed come early, with news that Ordnance Survey is slashing the royalties on its favoured Explorer range.
And about time too. Buying the whole of Great Britain at 1:50,000 Landranger scale has been just about reasonable at around £100 from most providers, but the same area at 1:25,000 would set you back a whopping £2,000 or more. As a result most people have restricted themselves to purchasing very small areas or, most likely, not bothering at all with Explorer scale mapping. It’s difficult to see how the pricing could have made commercial sense from Ordnance Survey and its partners’ point of view; most users were simply priced out of the market.
Now at last the price has dropped by up to 90%, with digital mapping suppliers vying for a potentially lucrative new market. So if you have a mapping application or GPS device it is worth looking for any introductory offers they may have. Mapyx, the makers of the Quo software, have the whole of Great Britain for just £150 until the end of the month. Others have it for up to £300, which is still a much better deal, and you can, of course, buy selected areas of the country for less or get it by the tile.
What would you want from a Walkingworld app?
If you are a smartphone or tablet user you are probably already aware that you can download Walkingworld routes, complete with instructions and waymark pictures, directly to the excellent ViewRanger GPS app. In looking at making our own app we are not seeking to recreate what ViewRanger already does very well, but to see if some walking routes can be enhanced with extra information or with interactive games.
The project, which is being run in association with Liverpool University, would benefit from some information on what devices Walkingworld members currently use and what types of enhanced walking route might appeal. The online questionnaire will only take a few minutes to complete – it’s all on one page – and as well as current users we would like to hear from people who don’t yet have clever smartphone and tablet gadgets but who think they might be tempted in the future. It’s your chance to influence the project and we would be extremely grateful if you can spare the time to give us your feedback.
Winter walking in the Alps
When the towering peaks of the Swiss Alps are bathed in glorious golden sunshine, and the pristine snow is piled a metre deep on the chalet roofs, there are few better places to be enjoying a week’s walking than the picture-book village of Kandersteg in the heart of the Bernese Oberland.
Walking trails radiate out from the village, with many exhilarating high routes accessible by cable car or gondola. From Sunnbühl, one classic route passes Daubensee and on to the top of the infamous Gemmi Pass overlooking Leukerbad; while another leads to the spectacularly located Oeschinensee from where there are tremendous views of the mountains.
Inntravel offer a week at the 3-star Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria in Kandersteg for the chance to follow up to 55km of prepared, waymarked trails, and to try your hand at snowshoeing in the surrounding valleys. In March, a dedicated walking week includes guided walks, a snowshoe excursion, a horse-drawn sleigh ride and a torch-lit stroll through the woods. You can also try your hand at cross-country skiing, if you wish!
For more winter walking holidays in Europe, take a look at Inntravel’s website, or speak to their expert team on 01653 617034.
Alan Hinkes: Show and tell
Alan Hinkes is the first British mountaineer to have claimed all fourteen 8000m summits in the world, a feat completed with the ascent of Kangchenjunga in 2005. So he hasn’t exactly rushed to get the book chronicling his achievement onto the market. Still given that the ascents themselves took place over nearly two decades, why rush? After all, being in a desparate hurry to reach the top is not the way to survive the notorious ‘death zone’ on these mountains, where getting down is more important than getting up. Hinkes’ down to earth approach, coupled with a steadfast refusal to hype up his achievements, is very much part of the appeal. If you want a simple but touching account of how these beautiful and dangerous peaks are climbed, this is one of the very best.
Hinkes’ photographs are quite stunning, all the more so when you remember that they were taken when most people’s minds would, and probably should, have been on other things. The pictures, quite rightly, form the backbone of the book, which is elegantly designed and printed by specialist publisher Cicerone. It’s called ‘8000m: Climbing the World’s Highest Mountains’ and is available from all the usual places.
Meanwhile, if you can make your way to Cumbria, Kirkby Stephen is hosting a rare opportunity to hear Alan Hinkes talk about the 8000m peaks, on Friday 13th December at 7pm. The evening is being organised by Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team as a fundraiser. The team is keen to make it a full evening out, so the event will also include screenings of mountaineering film clips and photos; a display of high altitude clothing and gear by Lyon Equipment; and historical clothing and equipment from the Mountain Heritage Trust. Places are limited by the size of the hall, so the team is encouraging early booking, which can be done on the team website.
Gifts for Christmas
There are still some copies of the Wainwright calendar calendar to be had, at the really good value price of £10 including post and packing. The tradition of combining Alfred Wainwright’s fine drawings of Lakeland fells with new photographs by Wainwright Sociey members continues, as does the donation of all the profits to charitable purposes. For 2014 the Wainwright Society has its own project, the signposting of the popular Coast to Coast route, to support, along with donations to the Mountain Rescue teams along the way. You can order your copies from the Wainwright Society website.
If you find yourself at a loss at the last moment for a gift, don’t forget that Walkingworld gift subscriptions can be bought all the way up till Christmas and beyond. The gift subscription can be activated by the person you have given it to at any time, so they can make the most of a full year’s worth of walking guides.
Richard Vahrman has posted an idea to encourage more people to walk on the OS Geovation challenge site. Under his scheme a map made up from OS data displays footpath and bridleways in bold colour. If no one walks the paths the colour starts to fade and die. Conversely, walking a path restores its health and colour, so it’s everyone’s job to keep the paths ‘alive’. It seems a superbly fun idea for getting people out into the outdoors and using our footpath network to the full, with the data gathered useful for all sorts of purposes. You can vote for it on the Geovation site and it might just get the funding to be put into practice.