Middle of nowhere
September 10, 2018 2:53 AM   Subscribe

OS440 (Glen Oykel and Glen Cassley) is the UK's worst selling Ordnance Survey map
posted by fearfulsymmetry (31 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is not all that surprising: Explorer 440 has no Munros and only one Corbett (Ben Hee, 873m) but that's also on Explorer 447. There are four Marilyns (Beinn an Eoin, 544m; Maovally, 511m; Beinn Sgeireach, 476m; and Creag Dhubh Bheag, 472m) but Marilyn-bagging is a bit of a niche sport.
posted by cyanistes at 3:35 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Loch Shin is totally worth a visit, though, and the plant life in the area is fascinating. La Segunda identified not one but two different insectivorous plants just on a little stroll up there.
posted by Segundus at 4:05 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


This pairs very nicely with this FPP three threads down from here.
posted by Vesihiisi at 4:25 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


The top 10 most popular Explorer maps all cover areas of England and Wales. The 10 least popular all cover areas of Scotland.

That's because the Scots already know where they're going, man. No need for a map.
posted by Mogur at 4:34 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


I have actually been there. Mr Tav and I once decided to tour Scotland without a car. To get from Inverness to our next stop, the late lamented Summer Isles hotel, we had to take a train and get off at the request stop at Lairg where there was a post office van waiting to take away the post. We squeezed in next to the post bags, and were dropped off at a crossroads in the middle of Glen Oykel. It was stunningly beautiful and completely devoid of any sign of human life other than the two roads stretching away to the horizon. It was a bit worrisome as not a single vehicle appeared, and it was October so not a great time of year to have to camp overnight. Eventually, about an hour or so later, a seemingly empty, unmarked bus trundled up and took us, without a word spoken, to the coast, to what appeared to be an entirely uninhabited fishing village. There, another hour later, a schoolbus arrived. It took several hours to get to the hotel as a large number of excitable Scottish schoolchildren had to be dropped off, village by village, but it was a fantastic journey through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
posted by tavegyl at 5:00 AM on September 10 [47 favorites]


I think the area is avoided by most folk because no-one knows what was in that meteorite.

It's interesting to me that the second least popular map is for Peterhead and Fraserburgh. There's plenty of people in this area but most of them are best avoided in my experience.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 5:12 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I submit that this FPP lacks a necessary hyphen. I came expecting a bad map!
posted by chavenet at 5:15 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


“The one exception to all that activity is Glen Cassley,” said Robertson. “I have very little to do there. It doesn’t change and nothing much happens there to require new mapping.”
Or, presumably, new maps. I mean, if nothing ever changes here, why are they surprised that no-one needs a new map? If the people who are visiting already have the map, and the number of new visitors is relatively low due to the remoteness of the area, it's entirely possible that there are plenty of people walking (etc.) in this location, with a low but steady turnover of visitors. Or that new visitors are using other means of accessing maps.

This might not be the reason, but it's weird that the article neither quotes any actual tourism statistics, or reflects on the fact that maps last longer in less changeable locations. But I guess being a newspaper science correspondent would be hard and time-consuming if it required actual inquiry and critical analysis, rather than just rewriting press releases and reporting quotes from people with something to promote.
posted by howfar at 5:43 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


There are four Marilyns (Beinn an Eoin, 544m; Maovally, 511m; Beinn Sgeireach, 476m; and Creag Dhubh Bheag, 472m) but Marilyn-bagging is a bit of a niche sport.
I think the main use of Marilyns these days is by amateur radio people - the Summits on the Air programme uses them to define what's a 'valid' summit for transmission.
posted by winterhill at 6:19 AM on September 10


This reminded me of a geology professor I knew who had an official USGS topographic map of a quadrant that was entirely covered by the Great Salt Lake. In other words, the map was a blue rectangle. He had it framed on his wall. He said that because the water levels in the lake can fluctuate so much, the elevation of the blue rectangle -- the only meaningful information conveyed by the map -- was usually wrong.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 6:24 AM on September 10 [40 favorites]


This is not all that surprising: Explorer 440 has no Munros and only one Corbett (Ben Hee, 873m) but that's also on Explorer 447. There are four Marilyns (Beinn an Eoin, 544m; Maovally, 511m; Beinn Sgeireach, 476m; and Creag Dhubh Bheag, 472m) but Marilyn-bagging is a bit of a niche sport.

Um, what?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:03 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


This is my kind of place.
posted by Morpeth at 7:07 AM on September 10


official USGS topographic map of a quadrant that was entirely covered by the Great Salt Lake. In other words, the map was a blue rectangle.

This is the nearest I can find (or as an 18 megabyte PDF).
posted by grahamparks at 7:13 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Um, what?

The highest Scottish peaks (over 3000ft) are referred to as "Munros"(although it's a bit more complicated than that). There are also a bunch of similar classifications for less elevated peaks. Climbing Munros, with the intention of climbing all, a certain number or as many as you can in whatever timeframe, is referred to as "bagging Munros".
posted by howfar at 7:17 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Um, what?

The Ordnance Survey's 1:25,000 series of maps covering Great Britain is known as the "Explorer" series. These maps are intended for "outdoor leisure" (especially walking, running, and mountain biking) and display public rights of way, areas of access land, field boundaries, types of vegetation, and elevation contours.

Among the main users of these maps (especially in the more remote areas of Scotland) are hill walkers, and so you can make a guess as to how popular a map will be by looking at the number of significant hills it includes. "Munros" and "Corbetts" are names of collections of popular hills — Munros are a list of hills in Scotland of 3,000 feet (914.4m) or higher originally catalogued by Sir Hugh Munro and maintained now by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, while Corbetts are a list of hills in Scotland between 2,500 feet (762m) and 3,000 feet, originally catalogued by John Rooke Corbett. Climbing ("bagging") the Munros in particular is a popular sport, that takes the walker to many parts of the Highlands — but not to Glens Oykel or Cassley.

"Marilyns" by contrast are hills in the British Isles with a "prominence" of 150m or more (meaning that from the top of a Marilyn you have to descend by at least 150m before you can climb a higher hill). There are a lot of these (more than 2,000 at last count), too many for all but the most dedicated hill-baggers to dream of completing. But those who try will eventually have to visit the area covered by Explorer 440.
posted by cyanistes at 7:30 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


Alas as far as I know not available as a printed map, but I'm fond of the the OS Map for Rockall
posted by sarahdal at 7:36 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


The first man to bag all the Marilyns finished in 2014, the first woman in 2016
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:52 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I've been to Scotland a few times, but never somewhere quite this remote. Sounds wonderful.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:56 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


The reason that these glens are so remote and lonely today is that the native population were evicted by force during the Highland Clearances of the 19th century. Historian John Prebble wrote:
At the beginning of 1820 Hugh Munro [laird of Novar, no relation to Hugh Munro the mountaineer] made it known that he proposed to clear his estates at Culrain and to place the land under sheep. … It was beautiful, too, a green valley floor watered by the black run of the River Oykel, rich pastures rising in gentle slopes to the south. … Between five and six hundred people were to be evicted, and according to their minister a hundred of them were aged and bedridden. The rents of Strath Oykel had been steadily increasing. One township of three farms, for example, supporting nine tenants and sharing a hundred acres of meadow by the river with muir-pasture to the west, had once paid a total annual rent of £9 sterling. This had been increased to £30. When the tenants first heard that their laird proposed to evict them they offered to pay five per cent more, hoping that this and the fact that they had never been in arrears would persuade him to change his mind. But Major Forbes of Melness, who wished to lease part of Strath Oykel for a sheep-walk had offered £100, and young Novar, who had ambitions to be an art-collector, needed the money. On 2 February 1820, the laird's law-agent, with the statutory Witnesses, arrived in the valley to serve Writs of Removal on all the tenants and their dependents, warning them to be ready to quit by Whitsunday.
posted by cyanistes at 8:21 AM on September 10 [16 favorites]


that would only mean we would have to try to do the same for the current second bottom selling map – Peterhead and Fraserburgh – next year. And that might be harder.”

Sick map burn!
posted by praemunire at 8:24 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of Jonathan Harker, pining for the Ordnance map.
I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place
posted by doctornemo at 8:44 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I came expecting a bad map!
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:56 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


this just adds to my strong desire to visit Scotland!!
posted by supermedusa at 10:30 AM on September 10


I love parts of this area, especially to drive through. However, howfar makes an excellent point regarding the durability of maps. My dad has this OS map, bought 30 years ago. As a family, we do not need to buy another one because that one is still good, and whoever is going up there can borrow it. It's also not a place where the OS map is useful for drivers (which they are in other places, to go via more interesting routes than the Satnav takes you), because there is no choice of roads.

If you do visit this lovely area, I would remind you that passing places are also there to allow the car/lorry behind you to go faster than you do. This sort of politeness greatly reduces the likelihood of you being run off the road and/or murdered.
posted by Vortisaur at 11:11 AM on September 10


I'm disappointed that Ordnance Survey maps don't plot the locations of unexploded bombs throughout Britain.
posted by CaseyB at 11:13 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


But Major Forbes of Melness, who wished to lease part of Strath Oykel for a sheep-walk had offered £100, and young Novar, who had ambitions to be an art-collector, needed the money.
Well that certainly seems like a valid reason for driving five or six hundred people out of their homes.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:24 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


As FYI, £100 in 1820 would be about £8,370 today (or about $10,903).
posted by Chrysostom at 1:25 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised it's not the area further north, around Caithness. It's pretty bleak up there, but I guess all the people walking to John o' Groats need to find a way to get there.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:01 PM on September 10


I believe my family once had a copy of that map, as my father once took us on holiday to the Kyle of Tongue, just to the north, and we spent most of it watching him fishing in various lochs including Loch Shin, during which time I got to know the map quite well. If I recall correctly, one of the nearby lochs has some very disappointing pictish carvings on a large rock on its shore.

We spent several holidays watching my father fish.
posted by Hogshead at 4:28 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


i did not know that there was a fungi called "purple amethyst deceiver"

that would be a great name for a psychedelic band
posted by pyramid termite at 5:53 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


A sincere thanks for explaining Munros, Corbetts and Marilyns. Basically, it’s a variation on highpointing, right?

My wife had a research assistant in her lab who was working on highpointing all 50 US states. Easy to do in the Midwest, harder in the South and East but definitely hard in the West!

And yes, it is an obscure hobby!
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:26 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


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