Planning for a day on the hills? The love of maps.

Many of us older folk still love looking at maps, we find even on a popular map find new things to go and look at. I have spent so much time looking at them I even had a few in my loo and always wanted to wallpaper a room with a series of maps. I look over my old maps and look at some of the wonderful days we had and those still to come. It’s so easy nowadays to pick up a climbing guide or a Munros. Graham, Corbett book and plan your day. You can even get way-points and all the latest information on your hill day or climb. The internet is full of blogs, advice about hill days some great some poor. 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 there make up by looking closely you see the features and you can remember them when the day gets difficult. We carried maps in the early days for the whole of Scotland( Crash maps) as we regularly got called out at a weekend away from where we were training. We carried 12 maps of each area a lot of maps in a big old ammunition box. Maps were hammered on the hill and updated regularly for the military with new power lines for added for the helicopters and low level aircraft. This meant they often changed and you would get the old maps that were now outdated if you were lucky, They were a prized item, put them in a poly bag and you had a waterproof map. Years ago the Bothies most of the remoter ones had secret locations now you can find them through the internet and books. Its all there now you just have to do is ask “Mr Google”. 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 have 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 of Scotland we poured over our route in the Briefing Room at Kinloss in the Mountain Rescue Section. It had a huge space and maps all over the walls they were always constantly looked at for ideas it was also used as a bar and that’s where we planned so many big days. For our walk we moved the chairs and got all the maps out on the floor only then did the depth of what we were planning came in. The planning was fun, we wanted no support apart from food drop offs in a few areas. We descended Munros by different ways heading for bothies and night stops, we saw so much new ground and Glens. We were young and invincible or so we thought. We sent food parcels ahead 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 Nov 1976 (Number 146) but the planning was a thing we did every weekend as we moved all over Scotland chasing summits. I would have a plan even bought many of 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. In these days when introducing new folk on the hill most were fit enough but getting to grips with navigation was the key skill. We would plan the day the night before just using the maps to judge times and distance. Who remembers the original Naismith’s route and inch to the mile maps, with not a great amount of detail? Add in wind, weather. terrain what your carrying, group size etc and things can change drastically. It to me is still a skill worth using. Be wary of Guide book times. Naismith’s Rule “This rule of thumb was devised by William W. Naismith, a Scottish mountaineer, in 1892. A modern version can be formulated as follows: Allow one hour for every 3 miles (5 km) forward, plus an additional hour for every 2,000 feet (600 m) of ascent. Be wary as no stops are planned in this.

Early days map reading Ben Lawers.

Top Tips. In the shorter days especially early winter I have a cut off time for getting of the hill depending on the daylight and weather. I always want to be down on the path or low ground before the light goes. Yet it good to get out and walk in the dark in a safe area and see how tricky it can be and how things slow down? Its time to check that torch and batteries?Always in addition to your modern devices carry a map, be aware that as you get older your eyesight gets worse a top tip you can enlarge a map of the danger areas on the hills like craggy descents. I have to now.

References SMC Munros

There is also a phone App.

The Munro App

This digital version of the SMC’s best selling definitive hill-walkers’ guidebook provides route descriptions and maps to all of Scotland’s 282 Munros (mountains over 3000 feet), which can be purchased by area or by route. As well as being a handy pocket sized reference for use at home or on the hill, you can log your ascents electronically as you work your way to Munro completion! Since its first printed publication in 1985, all profits from this best selling guidebook have been donated to the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, a charity created to promote the enjoyment, appreciation and conservation of mountains and the mountain environment.

There is a review here in the TGO magazine by Alec Roddie

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 Book, Bothies, Corbetts, Corbetts and other hills, Friends, Gear, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Munros, SMC/SMT, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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