Books on navigation

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by Hugh Westacott, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. Hugh Westacott

    Hugh Westacott Trekker

    I’ve long been concerned about how little some authors of books on navigation for walkers seem to know about Ordnance Survey maps.

    Facts
    The Ordnance Survey (OS) maps England, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man at 1:50,000 (Landranger series). It also maps England, Wales, and Scotland (but not the Isle of Man) at 1:25,000 (Explorer series).

    The Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI), which is quite separate from the OS, maps the whole of the Province at 1:50,000 (Discoverer series). It also maps selected areas at 1:25,000 (Activity series).

    Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) maps the whole of the Republic at 1:50,000 (Discovery series). It also maps selected areas at 1:25,000 (Leisure series).

    The Irish Grid covers the whole of the island of Ireland but is not related to, or aligned with, the National Grid. It is the grid printed on both OSNI and OSi maps.

    Common errors
    ‘In the British Isles, the main provider of maps for walkers is the Ordnance Survey (OS)…’ statement made in Hillwalking; the Official Handbook of the Mountain Leader and Walking Group Leader schemes and repeated in Navigation in the Mountains; the Definitive Guide for Hill Walkers, Mountaineers & Leaders. The official navigation book for all Mountain training schemes.

    Other books that state that the OS maps the whole of the UK, Britain, the country, or even the British Isles include
    Getting to Grips with GPS by Judd & Brown.
    Best Foot Forward by Anthony Burton
    Glen Arna, Navigation and Mountain Hazard published by the Scottish Sports Council and the Scottish Mountain Safety Group.
    GPS for Walkers by Clive Thomas
    Follow the Map; the Ordnance Survey Guide by John G Wilson.
    Safety on Mountains published by the BMC.
    The Ultimate Navigation Manual; All the Techniques you Need to become an Expert Navigator by Lyle Brotherton.
    And to my shame the first four editions of The Walker’s Handbook by Hugh Westacott. (But in the chapter dealing with walking in Ireland I stated that the maps were published by OSNI and OSi which had no connection with the OS.)

    But the book about navigation with the most errors must surely be The Ultimate Navigation Manual; All the Techniques you Need to become an Expert Navigator by Lyle Brotherton. This book has received rave reviews in the outdoor press and has been awarded at least one major prize yet contains more than seventy misprints and serious errors of fact.

    It claims to cover all aspects of navigation including mountains, the arctic, and jungles but fails to deal with navigation in lowland areas. ‘Contours are the single most important detail on your map’
    Really? They are not much use on the Somerset Levels and in much of East Anglia. In lowland countryside, field boundaries are likely to be the most important feature for navigation.

    ‘The main uses of a magnetic compass:… [For] determining your position using bearings from two or more distant features.’
    This only works if the features can be identified with certainty both on the ground and on the map but this fact is not mentioned.

    On OS maps 1:25,000 scale the contour level is 10 m.
    Wrong! On OS maps 1:25,000 scale the contour level is either 5 m or 10 m depending on the predominant nature of the terrain.

    ...cultivated land boundaries are often aligned with the cardinals of the compass.
    This is nonsenseI Any such alignment is entirely fortuitous.

    ...for this manual we will take the definition [of a mountain] to mean a topographic feature with a height over its base (not sea level) of greater than 1,500 m.
    Does Scotland have no mountains?

    I could go on and on but PM me if you would like a full list of errors.

    Hugh
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
    JimH likes this.

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