Paper Maps in my early days and the joy of planning for a day on the hills? The love of maps.

It’s so easy now to pick up a climbing guide or a Munros / Corbett book and plan your day. You can even get waypoints and all the latest information on your hill day or climb. The internet is full of blogs, advice about hill days. It’s great to see how things have moved on GPS and maps on phones etc have made life A lot easier.

I wonder how many still get the maps out and ponder over them looking at their planned route? To me I got to understand the maps and their make up. Years ago the Bothies most of the remoter ones had secret locations now you can find them through the internet and books. The early 1 inch to mile lacked a lot of detail, crags were hard to see yet to me they were a pathway to a new world. The one inch to the mile (1:63,360) range of maps started being replaced with the 1:50000 range in 1969. The metrication of Admiralty Charts began in 1967 as part of a modernisation programme.

I have great memories of my early days of hill bashing. There were hardly any guides to the hills and a lot fewer paths. The SMC had their District Guides full of detail and hidden information about climbing routes many in new areas. Giving little away but for those that looked so many hidden gems.

On my first Big Walk in 1976 the North – South we poured over our route in the Briefing Room at Kinloss in the Mountain Rescue Section. It had a huge space we moved the chairs and got all the maps out. The planning was fun and we wanted no support apart from food drop offs in a few areas. Ages was spent on fabloning maps to waterproof them for these trips.

We were young and invincible or so we thought. We sent food parcels to keepers and Bothies that the team used. How we got to know Scotland planning that trip. I had completed my Munro’s just before (Number 146)!but the planning was a thing we did every weekend as we moved all over Scotland chasing summits. I never believed that one day I would visit all these places that as a young 12 year old were way out out of my imagination.

I developed a plan, bought my maps and asked others for good ways up hills. All this practice definitely gave you skills to work out your day especially when the weather comes in unexpectedly? It was so handy in big searches in the Mountain Rescue for many years all over Scotland. When we returned from a weekend we would have a briefing and asked what hills we climbed and routes we did. You learned so much from this. A lot of folk have no clue what climb they have been on or what route climbed. It all helped you add to your area knowledge and understanding of the geography of this lovely country.

Introducing new folk on the hill in my option most are fit enough but getting to grips with navigation was and is a key skill. We would plan the day in early days using using only the maps inch to the mile then for times and distance. Add in wind and weather what your carrying, group size etc and things can change drastically. It to me is still a skill worth using.

Maps in Desert rescue.

I started reading maps about Galloway and I loved reading the hill and area names. “The awful hand” Nick of the Dungeon and the Silver Flow in Galloway always entranced my imagination. Tales of the bogs taking forestry vechiles due the nature of the ground all added to my. love of the area. The more I walked and climbed all over Scotland the more interesting names, tales I came across were enlightening.

Later I got to love the classic Gaelic names in my early days many were Anglified before the rise of use of the Gaelic Language. This is a blog on its own and so pleasing to see the re-emergence of the Gaelic culture and language.

District Guides a great insight into the hills.

What map has the most Munro’s on it?

There are specialised maps for many areas: Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Skye, Torridon and others.

OS Explorers map.

What’s your early memories of maps etc?

Classic old Cullin map.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Books, Equipment, Mountaineering, Munros, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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