Maps are the main tool you might use to get out and explore in this area. There's a selection of maps:
- Prepared Routes on our website include maps to download and print. Some of these are good enough to use alone, others we advise using with a paper map as described below.
- The OutdoorsWest Mapping system. You could use these to explore the area, using them to develop your own routes following our paths.
- Paper Maps available to borrow from libraries or buy - use these with other methods, or just follow routes off the map.
- GPS systems - electronic kit, just like car sat-navs, which vary in sophistication.
We've a powerful mapping system on OutdoorsWest, where you can see where all the public rights of way are, and view paths by the activity you plan to use them for - for example walking and running, cycling or horse riding.
Our system works by showing base maps as the background. Our basemaps are almost the same as Ordnance Survey paper maps you can buy in the shops or borrow from the library, or you can choose aerial photographs. We then overlay on these base maps the information we hold in our databases.
Ordnance Survey Paper Maps
If you want paper copies of the base maps we use, look for Ordnance Survey Maps. We use:
Landranger Maps, which are published at 1:50000 scale and useful for cycling and an overview of the area. They don't show field boundaries so aren't the best maps for walking in the countryside.
Explorer Maps, which are published at 1:25000 scale and are best for rural activities away from roads - they show rural public rights of way and field boundaries - they can be used to navigate. Consider taking a compass if you are in open ground (for instance on the Mendip Hills).
Our mapping also uses more detailed 1:10000 maps and Mastermaps, also from the Ordnance Survey, but not as commonly available as the leisure maps above. There's more about all these maps on the Ordnance Survey website. Ordnance Survey aren't the only maps available for getting outdoors, so a search in bookshops or camping and outdoor shops might turn up alternatives, as well as books of ready-made walks, runs, cycle routes and horse rides.
GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System is how Car Sat Navs work, using satellites fixed above the earth to calculate the position of the unit. Units for off-road use vary in sophistication, from those that give a grid reference, to watches fixed with GPS and heart rate monitors, to units that show the Ordnance Survey mapping on a colour screen. There's an introduction to GPS on the Ordnance Survey website.
More on Map Reading