Friday, 12 August 2011

Maps, lovely maps

I love maps. I don’t feel I can really get to grips with a place unless I’ve studied every inch of as large a scale map of the area as I can get my hands on. One that shows each individual tree would be ideal, but they’re very expensive. And very big (cue Steven Wright joke: I have a map of the United States...... it’s actual size. It says ‘one mile equals one mile’. Last summer I folded it.).

Anyway, this October, along with my esteemed colleague of the pie, I will be spending a week on Unst, the most northerly of the main Shetland Isles (there are a few lumps of rock, including Muckle Flugga, further north, but they don’t really count). Surprisingly, although I’ve been to Shetland several times over the last 15 years, I’ve never actually owned a map of the place. Mainly because I’ve always either been with, or stayed with Rob, who has the complete set.

But as we won’t have that ‘luxury’ this year I’ve had to buy my own map of Unst. It arrived today, and very exciting it is too – OS Explorer map number 470, the highest number of all this series, since they started at the bottom this time, unlike the Landrangers which start at the top. A double sided, 1:25000 scale veritable smorgasbord of cartographical delights and birding potential is how I would describe it. The cover photo even shows a pseudo-birder looking down at the Hermaness gannetry, although the blurb inside warns, rather bizarrely ‘...the photograph on the cover is intended merely as an illustration of the type of activity that your map is designed to facilitate...’ Not sure what that’s all about – maybe Ordnance Survey have been sued in the past by people who were disappointed that they didn’t see a Gannet when they went to Shetland?

I can’t quite remember how many times I’ve been to Unst, but I think it’s only twice – once in 1996 when we went for a day and saw nothing, and again in 2006 to see a Red-flanked Bluetail at Westing, then on to Halligarth, where I seem to remember we didn’t see a Bonelli’s Warbler sp. But I can’t find my notebook from that visit, and my memory is worse than that of an expenses-fiddling MP foaming at the mouth about ‘criminal behaviour’.

So it’s all going to be new and exciting. Probably. Right, I’m off to pore over my new map a bit more. In bed. Expect more excessively long posts going on and on about Shetland between now and 1st October....

8 comments:

beast said...

Andy...i too enjoy maps...but even i ain't weird enough to take one to bed with me...[unless i was to use it as a sheet]..

Hope you have a good time 'up north'....[and cheers for that excellent link to the fiddling foaming MP's on this post]...!

Hooded Birder said...

I'm currently doing a degree in Geography and can express my dissapointment due to the lack of map work. I was lead to believe a Geography degree was nothing more than map work and remembering capital cities. I was horribly mistaken

John Hague said...

Have you read Map Addict? If not I'll bring it along on Friday. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Map-Addict-Mike-Parker/dp/0007300840

The Leicester Llama said...

No, haven't read that. Sounds good!

I wasn't really reading it in bed by the way, that was just said for comic effect.

Mark said...

Thank the Lord that you're organised I haven't a flippin clue what 'mm doing.

The Leicester Llama said...

My being 'organised' has only extended to buying a map and looking at it!

Graham Etherington said...

Maps are ace. You should have got the 'Active' version of those Explorer maps. They have a waterproof covering on them (essential for Shetland). I just bought a Lake District 4-pack for my visit next weekend. Even though I probably won't venture more than a mile from the road, you have to be prepared 'just in case'.

The Leicester Llama said...

I did look at the 'active' version, but being a tight bastard, and thinking that I'll probably only be using it in the car/house I decided to go for the 'inactive' one. I just hope I don't come to regret that decision - there's nothing worse than a soggy map.