New Map Spec
SplashMaps‘ brand New Map Spec is launched this week in the Lake District and being rolled out throughout our destination range of maps. Uniquely it gives you what the walkers report plus the latest walking/ riding rights on your favourite trails from “official sources”.
A bastion for open data
We started SplashMaps with a single map 5 years ago. We were a bastion for open data and volunteer data in those days. Now we’re a bit bigger, would you expect our New Map Spec to be radically different from the first?
Defined for general adventure
The New Forest, our first SplashMap, was defined for general adventure use, but was tested, in the main, by Mountain bikers. Our experience with that first map began the process of evolving first a unique national and then international specification for our Maps.
Encouraging this data into the open
Open data allowed us to be versatile. Combining different sources to make a perfect blend of content for a range of map users. Ordnance Survey, The Forestry Commission and the Local Authorities were all approached and we set up the regular work practices of encouraging this data into the open, then capturing it in our maps.
Open Rights of Way
Open Street Map still provides the backbone of detail for our national and international destination maps. In most countries in the world it is the best source, in some it’s the ONLY source of mapping data that can give you the path and track detail needed for a proper walk or ride. In Great Britain we are lucky to have increasingly open data. Back in 2012 this process was in its infancy and with the impact of recession, the local authorities who cared for the rights of way (that’s paths and stuff) data couldn’t spare the budget to support the open data with people and systems.
5 years later, it’s a lot different
5 years later it’s a lot different and a great source to find all this open data is the Open Rights of Way (Open ROW) site managed by Barry Cornelius.
Barry has taken it upon himself to coordinate between the local authorities, encouraging them to make data available and gently reminding them of its importance. The result is a very comprehensive access point to all the available open ROW data of the country and has been a source for SplashMaps since 2012.
The most versatile adventure maps
Our latest map of the Lake District (Lake District Central, now also available as a Toob) is the first to use SplashMaps’ New Map Spec and take advantage of the recently released Local Authority data on rights of way. This helps us create the most versatile adventure maps for every hill and dale. Now you’ll find seamless coverage of the entire area of coverage. Clearly highlighted bridle paths and byways literally pop-out from the map as vivid highlights upon the underlying dashed path lines. In Orwellian terms, SplashMaps make it super simple to know where two wheels are good and four legs permitted!
On the map
Local Authority Rights of Way data is used to highlight official permitted use on bridleways and byways, so there’s no need to doubt where you can head on your bike, horse or on foot. But our field research and analysis found this data to be incomplete in some aspects. Where it lacked, Open Street Map steps in, defining the difference between footpaths and more general use trails (bridle and byways). This, interestingly enough is what we concluded 5 years ago too!
A more sensible route
In most instances the local authority will appear as a highlight over the dashed lines that define the volunteer data for paths and tracks. But in some cases these don’t quite match! These are existing areas to seek out on the maps. In general the Open StreetMap surveyors have captured to a higher level of detail (GPS picking up their steps as they roam), so you’ll notice them taking a more sensible route with respect to the slopes, rocks, boulders and other obstacles than the highlighted local authority routes.
Is Volunteer data the best?
This depends on your perspective and our spec gives you the choice. The volunteer data is more likely to reflect the actual situation on the ground. Occasionally it may define a path that won’t feature in official sources. Often these are properly designated on the ground with finger posts etc. and occasionally they are not! Where not, it’s still up to you to use common sense, but the official ROW overlays we use in the New Map Spec gives you assurance on where to find the network of permitted riding trails.
Fell expert? Buy a Lake District Central Map and feedback what you think! We’ve evolved through feedback and we’re not about to stop now!