Tag Archives: Map

Trail talk: FREE London walking maps- Sporting occasion

This is a final glance at the free paper maps that have been available to the public over the decades to aid in navigating the streets and green spaces of London- one of the most congested and built up cities on the planet. London has played host to many sporting events over the centuries though few appear to have warranted the creation of dedicated free maps for the public. Three Points of the Compass is aware of just a handful of events and sporting occasion where maps were freely available and some of these are shown here. Click on any image to enlarge it.

Wembley

The British Empire Exhibition Stadium was built in 1923 for the 1924/5 British Empire Exhibition though it hosted the first ever FA Cup Final in 1923 due to being completed ahead of schedule. More commonly known as the Empire Stadium, it was renamed Wembley Stadium and subsequently used for football and rugby matches and finals, also speedway, greyhound racing, the 1948 Olympics and other sports and concerts, including Live Aid in 1985.

Free street map showing the streets area surrounding Wembley Stadium. With compliments of McGlasham & Co. Surveyors and Estate Agents. Map copyright Maurice Linton Publications

In the first half of the 20th century, there were few free map resources to aid a pedestrian in walking to a sporting fixture. Beyond bus maps, local knowledge and ‘follow the crowd’, one of the complimentary maps from an estate agent would have been of great help. Street map showing the area surrounding Wembley Stadium. McGlashan & Co. Surveyors and Estate Agents. Map copyright Maurice Linton Publications, 1950s

The stadium closed in 2000 and a replacement opened on the same site in 2007. The site is easily accessed by public transport and few free maps seem to have been produced specifically as aids in finding it though an example for the 1948 London Olympics is included below. The stadium and immediate area does obviously appear on more general London street maps such as bus route maps and those given away free by estate agents.

Cover of small Euro '96 map sponsored by Mastercard

Cover of small Euro ’96 London map sponsored by MasterCard, this includes a simple diagram of the Wembley Stadium and its approach

MasterCard was one of the eleven official sponsors for the 1996 UEFA European Football Championship, more commonly known as Euro ’96 and was behind the production of a small credit card sized folding map that as well as including simple detail on Wembley seating and stadium approach, included a simple street map of central London.

Produced by Z-Cards, and extremely limited in size and area covered, it is actually a fairly good street map of central London, including most major streets, which are named, places of interest but it lacks any detail on paths across green spaces.

Doubly folded sheet card produced by Z-Card showing Wembley Stadium seating plan, Euro '96 fixture list, travel information, map of central London and the sponsor MasterCard's 'welcome centres'

Doubly folded sheet card produced by Z-Card showing Wembley Stadium seating plan (on reverse), Euro ’96 fixture list, travel information, map of central London and the sponsor MasterCard’s ‘welcome centres’

Simple diagram map of Wembley Stadium and its approach. Intended to prevent external congestion of spectators. Produced for 2018 London NFL Games game between Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans, the Chargers won 20-19

Simple diagram map of the ‘new’ Wembley Stadium and its approach. The free map was intended to reduce congestion of spectators in the streets outside. Sent free with tickets to the 2018 London NFL Games game between Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans, the Chargers won 20-19

London Marathon

One of the largest and most well attended marathons globally is that held in London each year. Marathon runners enjoy free travel on the London Tube and Docklands Light Railway on race day. Many spectators decide to walk to their vantage point rather than struggle to travel on an overburdened transport network. In anticipation of this, and additionally expecting many spectators from out of London that may be largely unaware of even the rough layout of both city and race course, free ‘maps’ are produced each year by Transport for London.

Free map with travel information produced for the Flora London Marathon, 2009

Free map with travel information produced for the Flora London Marathon, 2009

Maps they may be, but the information on them is cursory in the extreme. There is just about enough information to orientate in London but considerable reliance would have been placed on maps situated in Tube station concourses and online mapping.

The leaflets advise those walking to view the race to visit tfl.gov.uk/walking for routes and tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner to plan their journey. It is a shame that the decision had not been taken to simply include a good map and trust spectators to plan their route accordingly rather than rely on an automated system that continues to funnel the majority of people through what Transport for London and the race organisers feel is their preferred route, rather than actually create less congestion as a result of independent route planning. Is map reading that much of a lost skill? If it isn’t, then we are certainly heading that way as an over reliance on algorithms and event planners relieves us all of individual thought and expertise.

Map detail in 2009 'Marathon' leaflet produced by Transport for London

Map detail in 2009 ‘Marathon’ leaflet produced by Transport for London

Wimbledon

Free map given to some attendees at the 2019 Wimbledon Tennis Championship, with hospitality pass. Walkers Map 2019

Free map given to some attendees at the 2019 Wimbledon Tennis Championship, with hospitality pass. Walkers Map 2019

Some 7 miles south-west of central London is another of the capital’s great sporting venues- Wimbledon, home to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships each year. Some attendees are provided with a small folding map of the grounds and a map showing how to walk from either Southfields or Wimbledon Underground stations to the tennis courts.

Both are a short walk and signposting is excellent however it is refreshing that, possibly reluctant, walkers are still encouraged to use ‘shank’s pony’ and walk the streets, aided of course, by a paper map.

Walk the Circle Line

Free leaflet detailing the Walk the Circle Line for Sport Relief event held on 13 March 2016

Free leaflet detailing the Walk the Circle Line for Sport Relief event held on 13 March 2016

Soon after its establishment in 2002, the charity organisation Sport Relief teamed up with Comic Relief, and the two have subsequently aired, in association with BBC Sport, on alternate years in March each year. Many charity fund raising exploits are completed by the public throughout the year and in 2016 Transport for London (TfL) promoted a ‘Walk the Circle Line’ event. Thousands joined the above ground 14.5 mile walk around the original route followed by the Circle Underground Line. The great majority walked on 13 March, with sponsorship going to Sport Relief. Participants could start at one of four locations on the route- Fitzroy Square Gardens, St Botolph-without-Bishopgate Gardens, Christchurch Gardens and Kensington Gardens. The map is perfectly adequate to follow the route but poor once it is left as few streets are named. It is interesting to note that this map actually includes one of the best printed representations of the myriad of paths that cross Hyde Park.

This is a good walk to take in many of the notable landmarks of London- Westminster, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge amongst them. The free leaflet and map also included a diagram of the underground system, which included an estimate of walking times between stations.

Sponsored by Sainsbury's and produced by TfL, this free map enabled participants to navigate their way around the original route of the Underground Circle Line, 2016

Sponsored by Sainsbury’s and produced by TfL, this free map enabled participants to navigate their way at street level around the original route of the Underground Circle Line, 2016

The London Olympics

London has hosted the Olympic Games three times- in 1908, 1948 and 2012 however I can find no examples of free maps provided for the public in 1908. This is to be expected as there was no established practice at that juncture in producing free street maps for the public. As an aside, it was at the 1908 Olympics that race walking made its debut as a standalone sport.

1948 Olympics

Free London Transport map to 1948 Olympics

Free London Transport map for the 1948 Olympics

While the situation in 1948 was little changed from the 1908 Olympics in that few free maps were being produced for the public visiting London, the issue of small, pocket-sized and free transport maps was now well established. It is therefore unsurprising that London Transport produced a free paper map for those visiting the capital at the time of the Games of the XIV Olympiad. Additionally, competitors and officials were provided with free travel (bus and underground) passes and maps of the transport network. The success in securing a free map must have been a bit of a coup considering that more commercial offerings, such as a special Olympic transport guide and map produced by the Daily Telegraph, cost two shillings and sixpence.

Huge numbers of additional visitors to London were expected. Many of these would be unfamiliar with the street network, transport options or how to access any of the areas where Olympic events were scheduled to take place. In the wake of a financially crippling World War, the events were termed the Austerity Games and sixteen existing sporting venues were utilised. The free, two sided, fold-out leaflet included tourist information on London Museums and Art Galleries, general places of interest, embassies and consulates. Alongside a rail map showing the London Transport Railways in central London, a second street map showed the Wembley area which included the Empire Stadium (later named Wembley Stadium) and the Empire Pool (later named Wembley Arena). A new road linking Wembley Park Station with Wembley Stadium, named Olympic Way, opened on 8 July 1848.

Map to Wembley area in free 1948 London Transport Olympic guide

Map to Wembley area included in free 1948 Olympic guide produced by London Transport. The designer- ‘Hale’ is shown bottom right. Printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd.

2012 Olympics and Paralympics

It has been the London Olympics, especially those held in 2012, that has seen, by far, the greatest number of free maps produced to aid those in walking London’s streets.

The Cultural Olympiad

Careful to not use any official branding, for which a licencing fee would have ben required, The Times newspaper gave away a free 'London for free' map in 2012

Careful to not use any official branding, for which a licencing fee would have been required, The Times newspaper gave away a free ‘London for free’ map in 2012

By 2012 many visitors to London were relying on what online resources were available for finding their way through unfamiliar streets. Only official sponsors and those licenced were permitted to use any Olympic branding of any form on any product so this may account for the lack of much in the way of third party mapping. In particular this would have been relevant to anything that was supplied free of charge as production of these had to be paid for somehow.

“from riverside fireworks to athletic parades, fashion displays to world-class exhibitions, The Times brings you the best things to do during the Olympics- for free”

One of the few free maps produced was that given away to the public showing what could be enjoyed for free across London in 2012. From parks and walks, to museums and galleries, many locations were indicated on the map. However the map itself is woeful and more intended just to indicate what was available and roughly where in the Capital it could be experienced. It would be very difficult to navigate by foot using this map alone. This hinges on a statement made in the first of these blogs on free maps for walking in London- The production of a map costs money, to produce a good map costs a lot of money.

'London for free' pocket sized guide produced by The Times newspaper in 2012. The reverse includes a tube map, river view, guide to free museums, galleries, cultural events, parks, walks and where major markets and shopping was located. The Olympic venues are also shown. Important or distinctive buildings are indicated on the simple map but only major roads are included

‘London for free’ pocket sized guide produced by The Times newspaper in 2012. The reverse includes a tube map, river view, guide to free museums, galleries, cultural events, parks, walks and where major markets and shopping is located. The Olympic sporting venues are also shown. Important or distinctive buildings are indicated on the simple map but only major roads are included

Large free map produced by TfL for Summer 2012

Large free ‘Summer 2012 Map’. produced by TfL. This is probably the best walking map that TfL has ever produced

In 2012 there was strong concern that the public transport system would not be able to handle the huge number of additional visitors to London. There were some 8.2 million tickets sold for Olympic Games events and a further 2.7 million tickets for the Paralympics that followed. Demand for most events often far outstripped supply and while ticket holders were entitled to free use of London’s public transport system on the day of their event, the public were encouraged to consider walking to their venue to reduce congestion.

Alongside the summer Olympics, everyday London was still going about its business, with commuters, traders and residents being joined by thousands of tourists and those visiting the capital for one of the cultural events associated with the Olympiad. There were also many tens of thousands of people expected for the free events such as the marathon, triathlon and road cycling. A very large number of free maps were produced showing how pedestrians could get around an unfamiliar London. Advice for commuters and travellers to London was provided by Transport for London (TfL) as part of a combined information hub termed Get ahead of the Games. Alongside various publications and maps, a dedicated informative and updated website was maintained.

Free leaflet that included two maps containing helpful information for visitors to London. This was aimed more at those not attending sporting events and aided street level navigation and exploration of various associated events and tourist destinations. 2012

Free leaflet that included two maps containing helpful information for visitors to London. This was aimed more at those not attending sporting events and aided street level navigation and exploration of various associated events and tourist destinations. 2012

Olympic torch and marathon routes:

The Olympic Torch made its way through London on 26 July 2012 and a free ‘Square Mile‘ map to the route was available that also included the Olympic and Paralympic marathon course routes.

Both sides of the freely available leaflet were printed, Torch and Marathon routes were shown on one side and a more general visitor information map on the other. Both maps are very simple in design and are very much aimed at people unfamiliar with using maps for navigating. Helpfully, distinctive tall buildings such as St. Paul’s cathedral and the ‘Gherkin’ are included to enable even the most inept to orientate themselves.

A little surprising is the inclusion of two ‘Stroll Discovery’ Trails on the visitor information map. These yellow and blue trails took in London’s East End, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Monument and the River Thames. However the respective trail map format is very different to those produced for four other Stroll Discovery Trails shown below.

Visitor Information map on free 'Square Mile' leaflet produced in 2012. This includes two short 'Discovery Trails for those walking around London

Visitor Information map on free ‘Square Mile’ leaflet produced in 2012. This includes two short ‘Discovery Trails’ for those walking around London

Stroll Discovery Trails:

One of the Stroll trail maps produced for London visitors in 2012. This is the Purple Trail that mapped out a short 3.4km walk around Mayfair and Soho taking in Berkeley Square, Grosvenor Square, Bond Street, Hanover Square and Piccadilly Circus

One of the Stroll trail maps produced for London visitors in 2012. Purple Trail is a short 3.4km walk around Mayfair and Soho taking in Berkeley Square, Grosvenor Square, Bond Street, Hanover Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Four small maps that encouraged visitors to explore parts of London by foot were printed on thin card that was slightly more robust than more cheaply produced paper maps. This is probably because many would have been clutched by young children guiding their families around the short trails. The covers of the four 2012 ‘Stroll’ maps featured Big Ben and the two official Olympic mascots. The London 2012 mascots divided opinion and while appreciated by most, there were many that felt they were, simply, rather odd. The mascots were Wenlock, named after the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock (where the Wenlock Olympian Games were an inspiration for the revival of the Olympic Games), and Mandeville, named after Stoke Mandeville hospital (the birthplace of the Paralympic Games). Each Discovery trail was supposed to be walked in a clockwise direction, walkers would come across the two mascots at various places en route “highlighting some great photo opportunities on the way”.

Each folded map card is small, measuring just 98mm x 210mm and they are pretty basic in design despite being based on Ordnance Survey mapping. There is little street naming added and few paths across green spaces are included. However their production and free issue is to be applauded. None of the trails were particularly long, varying from 2.6km to 4.8km. Though simple, each map is easy to follow and actually encourages the pedestrian to explore and learn a little of London.

Stroll Green Trail- 3.7km

Stroll Green Trail- 3.7km taking in Regent’s Park

Stroll Red trail- 4.8km

Stroll Red trail- 4.8km on the side of River Thames

Yellow and Blue routes are included on the ‘Square Mile’ map, the remaining four had dedicated print runs. The six Discovery Trails created in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad were:

    • Route 1- Blue Trail 4.4km. St. Paul’s Cathedral, Monument and banks of River Thames
    • Route 2- Pink Trail 2.6km. London’s West End
    • Route 3- Green Trail 3.7km. Regent’s Park
    • Route 4- Red Trail 4.8km. Political London, South Bank
    • Route 5- Yellow Trail 3.2km. London’s East End
    • Route 6- Purple Trail 3.4km. Piccadilly and Oxford Street

The six trails were also shown on the ‘Summer 2012 Map’, produced by TfL, the blue cover of which was shown earlier. A small detail is taken from that large map and shown below, compare how the 3.7km Green trail through Regent’s Park is depicted, with the dedicated Green trail leaflet reproduced above.

Detail from TfL's 'Summer 2012 Map', showing the Green Discovery Stroll through Regent's Park

Detail from TfL’s ‘Summer 2012 Map’, showing the Green Discovery Stroll through Regent’s Park

Why not walk it? maps:

Eleven maps, each centred on a London railway station, were distributed free of charge to aid visitors to London during the 2012 Olympics

Eleven maps, each centred on a London railway station, were distributed free of charge to aid visitors to London during the 2012 Olympics

Detail from Victoria 'Why not walk it?' map. The detail included on this free map is impressive

Detail from Victoria ‘Why not walk it?’ map. The detail included on this free map is impressive

London, purely as a result of historic anomaly, with many disparate companies building their own railway and subsequent London terminus, has eleven mainline railway stations. Each of these railway termini had a dedicated Get ahead of the Games map produced in 2012.

An unprecedented eleven ‘Why not walk it?’ maps were available free of charge to visitors to the Olympics and Paralympic Games. The maps are very well produced. Production and distribution costs were met by the London Mayor’s office, Network Rail and Transport for London. Based on Ordnance Survey mapping, each is roughly centred on its respective station and features concentric circles depicting 10, 15, 20 and 25 minute walk estimates.

'Why not walk it?

Large free map centred on Stratford and East London given free in 2012. There is a lot of detail on this map which includes the Olympic Park. 980mm x 620mm

Large free map centred on Stratford and East London given free in 2012. There is a lot of detail on this map which includes the Olympic Park. 980mm x 620mm

Greenwich & Woolwich map available during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. One of two larger area London maps available free of charge to the public

Greenwich & Woolwich map available during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. One of two larger area London maps available free of charge to the public

In addition to the eleven station maps there were two similarly promoted maps available free of charge. These covered the Greenwich & Woolwich area and Stratford & East London. The second map was especially important as it focused on an area of London historically poorly served by map makers. Each large map included a smaller reproduction of the other on its reverse.

These two specially produced complimentary maps covered parts of London that were receiving the greatest number of unique visitors, especially the Olympic Parks area in a part of London that benefited greatly from the injection of money on the back of the 2012 Olympics. Again, these maps were based on Ordnance Survey mapping and included a central London planner map on the reverse with associated travel information. These are amongst the finest of free map resources ever produced for someone intending to walk in London.

The Olympic Park:

The 2012 Olympic Park was a 2.5 square kilometres area divided into four zones: Orbit Circus, Britannia Row, World Square and The Street Market. It was a focus for anyone attending the Olympics and Paralympics and away from events themselves was where the main buzz was to be experienced.

Olympic Park map. Specifically prepared in support of the Paralympic Games that took place 29 August to 9 September 2012

Olympic Park map. Specifically prepared in support of the Paralympic Games that took place 29 August to 9 September 2012

Olympic Park map. Specifically prepared in support of the Olympic Games that took place 27 July to 12 August 2012

Olympic Park map. Specifically prepared in support of the Olympic Games that took place 27 July to 12 August 2012

Events were screened live, music performances, street performers, street theatre, choirs, poetry and buskers abounded.

Needless to say, simple maps of the park were produced and were freely available for both the Olympics and Paralympics that followed. There was little difference in the map itself or information included. Though note the slightly differing logo used for the respective Games.

Based on Ordnance Survey mapping but including very simple detail. There is sufficient information on this map to enable those unfamiliar with maps to navigate around the 2012 Olympic Park

Based on Ordnance Survey mapping but including very simple detail. There is sufficient information on this map to enable those unfamiliar with maps to navigate around the 2012 Olympic Park. An identical map appeared in both Olympic and Paralympic park maps. Different Games partner sponsors were shown at the bottom. Print courtesy Geographers’ A-Z Map Company, who were an official London 2012 licensee of printed maps

Borough guides:

Guide to the Royal Docks and Stratford districts. Produced by Newham Borough Council, 2012

Guide to the Royal Docks and Stratford districts. Produced by Newham Borough Council, 2012

“Welcome to Stratford, gateway to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games”

If ever parts of London were going to be affected by huge numbers of additional visitors in 2012, it was the six host boroughs for the Olympic events. In addition to spectators travelling to and from their chosen event, there was obviously considerable peripheral commercial opportunity.

The London Borough of Newham lies some 5 miles east of the City of London and contained most of the Olympic Park including the London Stadium. The local council produced a free leaflet of Stratford and Royal Docks London ‘setting out their wares’.

The map makers have, as usual, removed helpful street naming for the sake of simplicity. This design brief aids the pedestrian visitor in accessing their sporting venue, but also directs them to the commercial outlets within the borough.

Detail from 2012 Newham Council leaflet showing the included map of Royal Docks London

Detail from 2012 Newham Council leaflet showing the included map of Royal Docks London. This includes detail on the Excel centre, which hosted the largest cluster of Olympic and Paralympic events outside the Olympic Park, including boxing, judo, fencing and table tennis

In addition to the maps available for free to the public there were official maps produced and supplied to support staff, media and the athletes themselves. The Olympic/Paralympic Village at Stratford had its own map showing locations of transport, shopping and post office.

Ticket pack sent to someone fortunate enough to have gained a ticket to an Olympic event.

Ticket pack sent to someone fortunate enough to have gained a ticket to an Olympic event. This ticket to the Basketball taking place at the North Greenwich Arena includes a street map to the locale

It is astonishing that so many free maps were produced in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics. There had never been anything like this produced before. The closest historically has been the many bus and tube maps that could also be used for walking the London streets and parks however those have been specifically aimed at providing travel information and the pedestrian has suffered as a result. Anyone visiting London during 2012 with the aim of exploring the capital by foot was well served. And it didn’t end there, people attending the many sporting events were also aided by free maps. Individuals that had been successful in obtaining a ticket usually had an event guide included with the ticket posted to them.

Event maps:

Fifty-one official event guides for spectators for the various Olympic sporting events, taking place in London and elsewhere, were produced and distributed free of charge in 2012. Despite being small and very simple in their design, omitting considerable street detail, the small individual paper guides, with accompanying map where necessary, would have been of immense help in guiding spectators to their event. The list is long but it is included for completeness below.

Olympic Event guides:

Archery (Lords Cricket Ground), Athletics (Olympic Stadium), Badminton (Wembley Arena), Basketball (Basketball Arena), Basketball (North Greenwich Arena), Beach Volleyball (Home Guards Parade), Boxing (ExCel), Canoe Slalom (Eton Dorney), Canoe Sprint (Eton Dorney), Closing Ceremony (Olympic Park), Cycling (BMX- Olympic Park), Cycling (Mountain Bike- Hadleigh Farm), Cycling (Road: Road Race- Box Hill), Cycling (Road: Road Race- The Mall), Cycling (Road: Time Trial, Hampden Court Palace), Cycling (Track- Olympic Park), Diving (Olympic Park), Equestrian (Eventing, Dressage, Jumping, Greenwich Park), Equestrian (Eventing: cross-country, Greenwich Park), Football (City of Coventry Stadium), Football (Hampden Park, Glasgow), Football (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff), Football (Old Trafford, Manchester), Football (St James’ Park, Newcastle), Football (Wembley Stadium), Fencing (ExCel), Gymnastics (Artistic, Trampoline- North Greenwich Arena), Gymnastics (Rhythmic- Wembley Arena), Handball (Basketball Arena, Olympic Park), Handball (Olympic Park), Hockey (Olympic Park), Judo (ExCel), Marathon and Race Walk (The Mall), Marathon Swimming (10Km- Hyde Park), Modern Pentathlon (Copper Box, Olympic Park, Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, Greenwich Park), Modern Pentathlon (Riding and Combined Event- Copper Box Olympic Park, Aquatics Centre Olympic Park, Greenwich Park). Opening Ceremony (Olympic Park), Olympic Park, Rowing (Eton Dorney), Sailing (Weymouth), Shooting (Royal Artillery Barracks), Swimming (Olympic Park), Synchronised Swimming (Olympic Park), Table Tennis (ExCel), Taekwondo (ExCel), Tennis (Wimbledon), Triathlon (Hyde Park), Volleyball (Earls Court), Water Polo (Olympic Park), Weightlifting (ExCel), Wrestling (ExCel).

Every ticket holder for the 2012 Olympic Games was provided with an ‘Official spectator guide’ that included a simple street map to the event location. This is the map for the Table Tennis competition held at the ExCel North Arena 1 that took place 28th July – 8th August 2012. Map based on 2011 Ordnance Survey mapping.

Paralympic Event guides:

Free map sent to holders of tickets for Paralympic events taking place in the Olympic Park. The park was large and much of the layout temporary for the games themselves. 2012

Free map sent to holders of tickets for Paralympic events taking place in the Olympic Park. The park was large and much of the layout temporary for the games themselves. 2012

In addition, there were 13 official Paralympic spectator guides produced, again, taking place in London and elsewhere. These included park and stadia maps etc. where necessary. These were:

Athletics (Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park), Closing Ceremony (Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park), Cycling (Road: Brands Hatch), Cycling (Track: Velodrome, Olympic Park), Equestrian (Greenwich Park), Excel Centre (for Boccia, Judo, Powerlifting, Sitting Volleyball, Table Tennis and Wheelchair Fencing), Marathon (The Mall), Opening Ceremony (Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park), Olympic Park (for Football Five-a-Side, Football Seven-a-Side, Goalball, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby, Wheelchair Tennis), Rowing (Eton Dorney), Swimming (Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park), Shooting and Archery (Woolwich Artillery Barracks), Wheelchair Basketball, (North Greenwich Arena).

Small fold out maps from the pocket guide given to the many thousands of accredited individuals attending the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Adapted from Ordnance Survey mapping and produced by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited

Small fold out maps from the pocket guide given to the many thousands of accredited individuals attending the 2012 Paralympics. Adapted from Ordnance Survey mapping and produced by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited

It wasn’t just the spectators that were attempting to get to each sporting venue, many by foot. There was also media, officials, support staff and the athletes themselves. Almost every tranche had their own published guide on location, facilities, transport arrangements and many of these free resources also contained a map of respective locations.

Street map of The Mall central London sporting venue, pages 61/62 from the 98 page Athletes' transport guide, published by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited, July 2012

Street map of The Mall central London sporting venue. Based on 2012 Ordnance Survey mapping. Pages 61-62 from the 98 page Athletes’ transport guide, published by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited, July 2012

The considerable number of guides and publications that were produced and distributed included pocket guides for accredited individuals and a large ring bound guide detailing transport arrangements for athletes. Every event venue and the lesser known training locations had an immediate area street map produced. The hundreds of guides produced in association with the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics resulted in the largest ever distribution of maps, many free, to aid people in walking in London. It is quite phenomenal how many were produced.

This concludes this brief glance at some of the free paper maps produced for those visiting London over the decades. Today, most visitors intending to walk the London streets and parks will very likely place their faith on what is available online. A shame, as there is something tangible in using a well produced map and having the ability to see the ‘bigger picture’- not being confined to the dimensions of a phone screen. Discovery is as much a part of exploration as anything else. The relation of place to place is how one truly understands London.
The previous three blogs in this short series can be found at-

Part One: Free maps for exploring London by foot

Part Two: Free maps produced by Transport for London

Part Three: Free maps produced for Royal occasions

Detail from 2002 Golden Jubilee, London Travel Guide

Trail talk: FREE London walking maps- Royal occasion

The British love a royal occasion, well at least most do. The focus of many of these have been based in London- Coronations, weddings, births and birthdays and just the occasional jubilee. On these occasions anything from tens of thousands to millions of people can descend on the capital. Swamping public transport, many of the visitors are unfamiliar with the streets and free maps showing processional routes have been produced on just a few occasions to aid the public in walking between destinations and also relieve the transport network. A handful of paper maps produced over many decades and given away free are shown here. Click on any image to view an enlarged copy.

Free paper maps for anyone visiting London to attend royal events were not available until the 20th century, and even then, few have appeared as many, often well produced, commercial souvenir items of a ‘special day’ have been available for an ever expectant public to purchase. This changed in 1936, together with the shock of an uncrowned King…

Coronation processional routes

King Edward VII's processional routes through London was published in various newspapers. The Sphere, 28 June, 1902

King Edward VII’s processional routes through London were published in various newspapers. The Sphere, 28 June, 1902

The crowds gather to view the coronation procession in 1911. Rotary Photographic Series postcard

The crowds gather to view the coronation procession in 1911. Rotary Photographic Series postcard

The production of free paper maps of London is an expensive affair and would normally only be justified where there was commercial advantage in providing them. Edward VII was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 26 June 1902, the first coronation in Britain since his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1838. The public flocked to the nation’s capital for the occasion.

While there were no free maps of the processional route distributed to the public, a map was published in many newspapers, however most papers did not actually show this until after the event, so were not of much use to people visiting London who were unfamiliar with the street layout. Similar maps were published in newspapers for the various processional routes during George V’s coronation in 1911.

Producers of pictorial postcards also sold souvenir cards showing scenes from the procession and of the coronation route itself. While some attendees may have purchased a card showing a map, to be able to say ‘we stood THERE‘, it is likely that a great many more real photograph cards showing the procession itself were subsequently purchased as a memento of the day.

Map provided to military personnel at the 1911 Coronation Royal Procession

Map provided to military personnel at the 1911 Coronation Royal Procession

While free paper maps of London for the public were not available for the respective processional routes for the coronations of either Edward VII or George V, both members of the police force, and officers and senior NCOs amongst the thousands of military guard that marched and rode the route, or lined the streets, were provided with maps showing their detail or route from barracks.

‘Long may he reign’

1936 was a hard year for the British. The monarchy had suffered turmoil and loss. George V died in January 1936 and his successor, Edward VIII, abdicated on 11 December the same year.

Free map released by the OXO companay showing how visitors to London could view the coronation procession of EviiiR. Sadly, an event that did not occur, 1936

Free map produced by the OXO company showing how visitors to London could view the coronation procession of EviiiR. An event that ultimately did not occur, 1936

Prior to Edward’s abdication plans were already being made for his coronation. The logistics were planned and processional coronation route through London decided, the route had been widely circulated. Enough so that some firms had begun to produce commemorative material anticipating national fervour.

The map shown here was produced by Oxo Ltd. in 1936. Oxo produced a concentrated beef extract, available to the public since 1910 in solid cube shape for a penny and the company recognised the benefits of strong promotion. Prior to the coronation, Oxo had sponsored the 1908 London Olympic Games, alongside Odol mouthwash and Indian Foot Powder, this despite Coca Cola claims to being the first commercial sponsor of the Olympic Games.

While this map is a remarkable survivor from the short-lived era of an uncrowned King, the plans for his coronation at least proved useful for the actual coronation that followed so soon after his abdication.

Published by Oxo Ltd. This complementary map ilustrated the coronation route of EviiiR. Visitors to London could use it to walk to view the procession. However Edward abdicated prior to his coronation, measures 251mm x 189mm. 1936

Published by Oxo Ltd. This small complimentary map illustrated the proposed coronation route of EviiiR. Though simple in design, visitors to London could have used it to walk to view the procession. However Edward abdicated prior to his coronation. Map measures 251mm x 189mm. 1936

The coronation of George VI the following year ignited the populace. The coronation took place in Westminster Abbey, London on 12 May 1937. The procession left Buckingham Palace and headed up The Mall, through Admiralty Arch, down Whitehall to the Abbey. Following the ceremony the return procession to Buckingham Palace was over six miles (10 km) in length. There had never been anything like it and hundreds of thousands of people were expected to attend including 40,000 schoolchildren. Over 32,000 soldiers took part in the procession and 20,000 police lined the streets to control the crowds. A large area in central London was closed to almost all traffic and most attendees were expected to walk to their vantage point.

Cover of free 1937 Coronation map

Cover of free 1937 Coronation map

While the public could use the London Underground and buses and trams outside the Coronation Area, many visitors were unfamiliar with London streets and a paper map was available in advance, free of charge, to aid people in getting to their view point. The map was produced by Geographia Ltd. Cartographers, a London based firm established c1910 who became well known for their folding pocket maps.

Part of the free 1937 Coronation map

Relevant map part of the freely issued 1937 Coronation processional route.

The map extends beyond the coronation route itself and would have been of immense help to people unfamiliar not only with London’s streets but the bus, tram and coach routes to be taken outside of the area closed to most traffic. The rear of the map contains a great deal of information- day and night public transport, also two further maps- each showing train services.

Complimentary map booklet produced by Barclays Bank Ltd. Printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd. 1937

Complimentary map booklet produced by Barclays Bank Ltd. Printed by Waterlow & Sons Ltd. 1937

Other than the ‘official’ map produced for the royal occasion, some other business also saw this as an opportunity to produce their own maps showing the coronation route. When issued free, these included information about the businesses themselves and were mostly intended to create more business or customers, as well as assist existing customers.

The small free booklet produced by the Barclays Group of Associated Companies includes four maps- a small one of the coronation route, plus three others- one showing principal places of interest in inner London, a second includes locations of branches of Barclays Bank Ltd, Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) and the British Linen Bank in Inner London. A final diagrammatic map illustrated the London Underground Railway system. One of the central London maps in this booklet can be seen in part one of this series on free London maps.

Map of the 1937 Coronation route included in free booklet produced by the Barclays Bank Ltd. & Associated Companies

Simple map of the 1937 Coronation route included in free booklet produced by the Barclays Bank Ltd. & Associated Companies

A map of London, detailing the processional route of EiiR was available free of charge to the public. 1953

A map of London, detailing the processional route of EiiR on her coronation 2 June 1953 was available free of charge to the public

King George VI died 6 February 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth. Her Coronation took place 2 June 1953 and, as before, huge numbers of well-wishers were expected to line the processional route. Again, a free map detailing both route and travel arrangements was available in advance of the event.

Jointly published by the London Transport Executive and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the free issue of the map anticipated the influx of visitors unfamiliar with the streets and was a much appreciated aid to route finding. As with the 1937 Coronation, Geographia were the chosen cartographers. A smaller area of London is depicted than before but similar information on public transport arrangements, outside the coronation area, is included on the reverse. A map of the London Transport Railways (the Tube) was included.

The return coronation route was five miles in length. 29,000 service personnel marched in the procession and a further 15,800 lined the route. There were some three million London spectators which justifies the free issue of such a map. Thousands of copies were retained as a memento of the day.

Map produced by Geogrphia Ltd. Cartographers detailing the 1953 coronation area and route

Map produced by Geographia Ltd. Cartographers detailing the 1953 coronation area and route, available free of charge

Many of the streets within and close to the coronation’s processional route were either closed or had severely restricted access for the day. Some of the London street maps produced by the Automobile Association (AA) were illustrated in the first part of this short series. These were produced not only for their own staff attending breakdown but also supplied free of charge to members when requested. An additional special map was produced that included the coronation route marked out in red. The AA was especially suited to producing these maps as they had been tasked with managing road signage, parking and traffic control for the royal event. Motorists were instructed how to apply for coloured windscreen labels that permitted them to park within the coronation area. An index to streets, theatres and cinemas is included on the reverse. Drawn by the AA, the small map is to their usual clear, simple and high standard. Anyone leaving their car outside of the restricted area would have been able to navigate the streets with relative ease using one of these maps.

Small (258mm x 187mm) map compiled and drawn by the Automobile Association showing the 1953 Coronation Route

Small (258mm x 187mm) map compiled and drawn by the Automobile Association showing the 1953 Coronation Route

Not all complimentary maps were given to the general public. Some were produced by companies and only given free to suppliers and existing or prospective customers. Usually these would also include a little information on the company itself, possibly identify their premises on the map itself or, at the very least, include contact information.

Souvenir map given free by British Insulated Callender's Cables Ltd in association with the 1953 coronation

Booklet of souvenir maps of London given free by British Insulated Callender’s Cables Ltd in association with the 1953 coronation

The complimentary map produced by British Insulated Callender’s Cables Limited is pretty much typical of this type of map. It is quite large, includes a potted history of the business, contact info, and two maps. One side of the sheet shows a road map of London and it’s suburbs produced by, and licenced from, mapmaker Edward Stanford Ltd. While the other side has a large scale, and more useful while walking, pictorial map of London with enlarged section of central London. This second map was prepared by and licenced from cartographer George Philip & Son Ltd.

While these free maps were promoted as a ‘Coronation Souvenir’ on the exterior cover, the large scale map of central London actually fails to include any information at all as to the coronation route. None the less, it is an excellent and detailed map of London, not surprising considering its cartographic credentials.

British Insulated Callender's Cables Limited 1953 Coronation London Map

One side of British Insulated Callender’s Cables Limited complimentary map showing London. Map prepared by Edward Stanford, 1953

Royal Wedding

Leaflet produced by London Transport and London Tourist Board detailing both the public transport arrangements for the day and how to walk to view the royal wedding route, 1981

Free leaflet with map produced by London Transport and London Tourist Board for the Royal Wedding in 1981

It appears that it was not until the late 20th century that any free paper maps were produced in connection with any Royal Wedding in London. Princess Elizabeth had married on 20 November 1947. Britain was only just beginning to recover from the hardship of a long hard war and the occasion was termed the ‘austerity wedding’. Three Points of the Compass has been unable to identify any free maps that were issued detailing the processional wedding route but in common with coronation routes through London, it was published in various newspapers, a trend that has been followed for subsequent royal weddings. Though most recent weddings have simply had the processional route overlaid on a satellite view.

Princess Elizabeth travelled through the public lined streets to her wedding by horse-drawn landau. This tradition remainded unbroken in the years between the 1963 marriage of Princess Alexandra and Kate Middleton, when Kate married Prince William in 2011. Like Alexandra, Kate chose to be driven past the estimated two million onlookers by limousine to the Abbey. However the usual pomp ensued after the ceremony. A procession of horse-drawn coaches transported Princess Catherine and the Royal Family on their return to Buckingham Palace via Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards and The Mall.

It appears that it was not until the marriage of Queen Elizabeth’s eldest son Charles that any free paper map of London was distributed for a royal wedding though it is a poor addition to the collective. A printed map was produced by London Transport and The London Tourist Board ‘in association with His Grace the Duke of Westminster‘ for the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer and was available free of charge. Despite it’s simplicity and relative lack of attractiveness, it is likely that thousands were kept as souvenirs of the day.

On 29 July 1981 around two million people lined the route of Lady Diana’s procession from Clarence House (number 7 on the map) to St. Paul’s Cathedral (number 21 on map). It was termed the Fairy tale wedding, however they divorced in 1996. The map of the Royal Procession is very simple in design. It included a map of the London Underground and provided enough information for pedestrians to walk the route between St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace where the newly married couple kissed on the balcony, establishing a new tradition.

Very simple in design, there was enough information on the 1981 map to enable the curious to walk the route from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's Cathedral

There is just about enough information on the simple free map to enable the curious to walk the route of the 1981 royal wedding procession

Royal Jubilee

King George III celebrated his jubilee privately and other than a few fireworks there was little for the public. However there were were a number of grand parades during Queen Victoria’s reign such as for her Coronation and Golden and Diamond Jubilee’s. Though it was probably the relaxation in drinking hours for the Queen’s Jubilee that appealed to the public most.

Beyond any planned celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Jubilees there was an undercurrent of resentment amongst many of the working class. Trades Unions actually boycotted some festivities and despite the many thousands of people that did attend various celebratory events, this may partially explain the lack of any free maps to London being then made available to the poorly paid.

Early morning crowds outside Buckingham Palace. Thousands of well-wishes arrived in the London the night before George V's procession through London. The King ordered that Hyde Park be kept unlocked to enable them to camp the night there

Early morning crowds outside Buckingham Palace in 1935. Thousands of well-wishes arrived in London the night before George V’s Silver Jubilee procession through London. Having heard of their arrival, the King ordered that Hyde Park be kept open to enable them to camp the night there

The smallest map illustrated in this series looking at free maps of London streets. The privileged few with tickets to the numbered stands lining King George V's 1935 Jubilee procession had a directional map printed on the reverse

The privileged few with tickets to the numbered stands lining King George V’s Silver Jubilee procession on 6th May 1935 had a directional map printed on the reverse. Ticket measures 10.5cm x 11.5cm and is the smallest example in this series looking at free maps of London streets.

Three Points of the Compass is not aware of any street maps being distributed free of charge for any of the various jubilees celebrated by either Queen Victoria (Golden- 1887, Diamond- 1897) or King George V (Silver- 1935). While George V’s Silver Jubilee was revolutionary, no such 25th anniversary ever having been celebrated publicly before, no free maps were made available for that. This was probably due to the period of austerity in which the country was mired. The closest to a free street map that Three Points of the Compass has encountered are the simple diagrams given to members of the social elite to aid them in locating their numbered viewing stands. It would be quite some years before a free map was given away for any royal jubilee, in fact, it was not until 1977 when Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee.

Map of London licences and produced by retailer Marks & Spencer specifically aimed at overseas visitors travelling to London during the 1977 coronation year

Map of London licenced and produced by retailer Marks & Spencer specifically aimed at overseas visitors travelling to London during the 1977 coronation year

No doubt expecting a swathe of visitors new to London, some businesses produced guides or maps of London which included the necessary information for the visitor to London to visit one of their outlets.

The map I have shown here was produced by High Street retailer Marks & Spencer, though with a change of branding and accompanying information, it could have been supplied by just about any retailer. The map itself was produced by and licenced from the London Transport Board but it is a fairly poor effort and only includes names for major streets, minor streets going either un-named or excluded altogether.

Beyond the title on the front, there is nothing on this map that directly relates to the Queen’s Jubilee itself and instead just seeks to take advantage of a general fervour surrounding the royal occasion.

This could be regarded rather cynically, but nonetheless, it is a free map that would have been of some use and appreciated by those unfamiliar with navigating the complex of streets in the nation’s capital.

'Welcome to Jubilee London' map given away free by retailer Marks & Spencer. This also includes information on the retailer itself in English, French, German and Spanish. 1953

‘Welcome to Jubilee London’ map given away free by retailer Marks & Spencer. This also includes information on the retailer itself in English, French, German and Spanish. 1977

1990 reprint of the 1977 London Silver Jubilee Walkway trail leaflet

1993 reprint of the 1977 London Silver Jubilee Walkway trail leaflet

In addition to free maps for the jubilee, a new signposted trail was produced that is still followed by tourists, historians, hikers and the merely curious to this day. A special way-marked trail was created through London for the occasion and maps prepared. Three Points of the Compass will cover this trail in greater depth when he walks it in 2021.

Various corporate sponsors enabled the Silver Jubilee Walkway leaflet to be produced and distributed free of charge in 1977. The walkway has been so popular that a reprint of the map was produced in 1993.

Detail: the western end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

Detail from 1993 reprint: the western end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

Over 400 aluminium discs were set into the pavement, these are augmented by smaller discs to indicate change in direction, particularly useful for those following the full 12 mile or so route. Various information boards, similarly sponsored, were erected along the trail’s length.

The trail’s name changed to the Jubilee Walkway on the occasion of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 and the length increased to 15 miles. A further loop taking in Camden was added in 2003. As well as the free map leaflets shown here, a couple of printed route descriptions have been produced over the years but these are all commercial offerings with a cover price to match.

Detail from 1990 reprint. The eastern end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

Detail from 1993 reprint. The eastern end of the London Silver Jubilee Walkway

2002 Golden Jubilee, London Travel Guide

2002 Golden Jubilee, London Travel Guide and map

Twenty five years later, as well as changes to the Jubilee Walkway, other celebrations were held in London on the occasion of the Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee. Rather than a day long celebration, a series of events in London were planned over four days: 1- 4 June 2002. A free leaflet detailing event times and locations, which included a London street map, was prepared, jointly paid for by a number of London and national agencies.

The free map included in the London Travel Guide leaflet was fairly basic, showing unnamed streets, but included further written detail on the reverse along with a map of the London Underground network.

Not only did the provision of the map aid those travelling around London by public transport to the various events taking place across the capital, but it also provided just about sufficient information for anyone choosing to walk from location to location over that four-day weekend in the summer of 2002.

The Jubilee events were diverse- an exhibition in Hyde Park in July and August, an exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture in Battersea and London’s South Bank featured an exhibition of litter bins, bus shelters, bollards and poster hoardings, chosen for their ‘fine design‘.

Free paper map available on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee. 2002

Free paper map available on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee. 2002

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of 'Royal London'. Printed June 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

Today, tour companies and the like continue to entice paying tourists by utilising the royal connection though few, if any, produce free maps of the streets of London. Maps tend to be made available more cheaply as an online resource. Such exploitation of ‘Royal London’ is nothing new, there have been good free map resources produced in the past.

The map below was part of a series made available free of charge by London Transport in the 1960s. The primary aims of these leaflets was to both tempt paying customers onto buses during quieter times of the day, and potentially purchase a more lavish walking and exploring guide commissioned by London Transport.

Any pedestrian following this particular trail is given no opportunity to wander off the route and street detail is minimal, many thoroughfares are excluded entirely. While this works for clarity in such a small diagram, how many people were left completely stymied having taken a wrong turn…

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

The final part of this short series, looking at free maps produced over the decades to aid with walking in London, will review the material produced for various sporting events taking place in the capital, in particular the plethora of maps given away in association with a certain event in 2012.

Various maps produced by Transport for London that aid in walking across London

Trail talk: FREE maps for walking in London- Transport for London

Three Points of the Compass recently looked at the FREE paper maps that have been available for those wishing to explore London by foot. Most commonly encountered amongst these were the large number produced by the various organisations responsible for transport in London.

TfL also support and promote various long distance walks around and through London. Three Points of the Compass walked the London LOOP in 2016, utilising various TfL transport links to do so

TfL also support and promote various long distance walks around and through London. Three Points of the Compass walked the London LOOP in 2016, utilising various TfL transport links to do so

With the devolution of government for London, Transport for London (TfL) was formed and from 3 July 2000 became responsible for most bus and many rail transport routes across London. The London Underground, more commonly known as the Tube, passed to TfL control in 2003. TfL also controls London trams, taxis, cycle provision, travel by river and other services. These included the UK’s first urban cable car which opened in June 2012, connecting the Greenwich Peninsula with the Royal Docks. Historically, many of the free paper maps produced by TfL since 2000 have also proved useful for walking or were specifically aimed at those preferring to explore London under their own steam.

Note that this is a retrospective glance at what has been produced by TfL over the years and many of those shown below are now unobtainable.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

London buses

Free Transport for London bus guide for South West London, November 2007

Free Transport for London bus guide for South West London, November 2007

Of all the free maps that have been available over the decades, amongst the most suited for walking in London have been those produced by the bus companies. The London bus guides produced by TfL have continued this trend. Unlike many parts of the UK, almost all of London continues to enjoy an excellent bus service.

TfL divided London into four quarters and produced a large guide- 990mm x 625mm. While some minor street detail is excluded these have been one of the best free map resources ever produced for exploring London by foot. Each of them also shows central London.

While these in no way equal the better maps produced covering London such as those by Ordnance Survey, these paper maps encompass outskirts barely covered by other printed free resources. With these four maps it would be perfectly possible to explore almost all of London.

Free Transport for London bus guide to services in South West London. There are thirteen maps spread across the two sides of this map- eleven small, local area maps, a small scale map of south-west London and a large scale map of central London. Printed October 2007

Free Transport for London bus guide to services in South West London. There are thirteen maps spread across the two sides of this map- eleven small, local area maps, a small scale map of south-west London and a large scale map of central London, a small part of which is shown here. Map drawn October 2007. Printed November 2007

Folded TfL Central London bus and walking map. To large to be pocket sized, it appears that the designers failed to complete a good idea. 2017

Folded TfL Central London bus and walking map. Too large to be pocket sized, it appears that the designers failed to properly complete a good idea. 2017

TfL have also produced a bus map specifically aimed at those walking in London. Their Central London bus and walking map included a map of key bus routes in central London on one side and a simple street map on the other.

While limited in range and excluding considerable street detail, that the TfL map makers obviously felt irrelevant, the free map does show the most direct and easiest routes to walk between locations. A basic guide on how long it will take to walk between points on the map is included.

One of the two maps included on TfL's Central London bus and waling map. October 2017

One of the two maps included on TfL’s Central London bus and walking map. October 2017

London Underground

Special TfL Tube map produced for an event in London. July 2005

Special TfL Tube map produced for an event in London. July 2005

While the constantly updated map, or diagram, for the London Underground is an icon in itself, it purposely distorts geography in order to perform better in use whilst travelling by Tube. As such, TfL Tube maps are little use for walking though some attempt has been made in recent years to improve that to a degree. I will return to these changes at the end.

Every now and then London can be swamped by visitors and the public transport system can struggle to cope. Special instructions on getting around with accompanying maps were produced by TfL for New Year celebrations, especially on the Millennium when even greater numbers packed central London to watch the fireworks along the River Thames.

Some Tube maps have been produced by TfL for special events where a large influx of visitors unfamiliar with specific parts of London have been expected. This is both a responsible act by TfL and advisable, funnelling people by the best, or most appropriate route, and reducing strain on the transport network.

TfL excel at this, having control over the various transport options in London, there is no commercial competition swaying the advice provided. Such maps would be welcome but are only of use for walking in the immediate vicinity of event locations.

Live 8 was a free ticketed music event held in Hyde Park on 2 July 2005. TfL produced a free transport guide and map for attendees. 2005

Live 8 was a free ticketed music event held in Hyde Park on 2 July 2005. TfL produced a free transport guide and map for attendees. 2005

Soon after their creation, Transport for London began to produce paper maps showing the immediate area around each of their underground stations. It was usually possible to pick these maps up in the station itself and were of immense help to those arriving at an unfamiliar station who needed to quickly orientate themselves and walk to a local destination. However the area shown is not large. The Debden map shown here only escorts the walker some 3/4 km in any direction.

Two TfL produced maps sowing the streets close to the Debden station, on the Central Underground line. Folded on left and open on right. 2004

Two identical TfL produced maps showing the streets close to the Debden station, on the Central Underground line. Folded on left and open on right. 2004

'Continuing your Journey'- Free paper map showing the streets around the Farringdon station

‘Continuing your Journey’- Front cover of free paper map showing the streets and transport links around the Farringdon station. 2016

At some point TfL switched from map detail obtained from Bartholomew to that produced by the Ordnance Survey. The production of local maps by TfL improved greatly since those first offered free of charge to the travelling public. Frequently, not only are local transport links shown, but also places of interest. An indication of time to walk a distance are also often now included. ‘North’ is also shown.

Legible London map. Cheapside, near St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Legible London map. opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

The maps are also shown on large posters on station concourses. The paper maps themselves can be freely picked up by anyone entering the station and there is no need to cross the ticket barrier.

The maps are very similar to those introduced in 2007 and found at street level across London as part of the Legible London scheme.

The paper maps are quite expensive to produce and Three Points of the Compass does wonder how long TfL will persist in providing them.

'Continuing your Journey'- opened map freely available for travellers on the London Underground. 2015-6

‘Continuing your Journey’- centre pages of map freely available for travellers on the London Underground. Based on Ordnance Survey mapping. April 2016.

Santander cycle hire docking station. Cheapside, London. Photographed 2020

Santander Cycles hire docking station. Cheapside, London. Photographed 2020

Cycle hire

From July 2010 6000 bicycles were available for short term rentals from 400 docking stations in central London. This was a joint initiative- promoted by TfL and funded by Barclays Bank. The number available via the Barclays Cycle Hire was quickly increased to 8000 cycles from 570 docking stations.

Barclays probably lamented their failure in having the new provision known colloquially as ‘Barclays Bikes’, instead the public quickly began referring to them as ‘Boris Bikes’ after Boris Johnson, the London Mayor at the time of their introduction.

The scheme, cycles and docking stations are provided and managed by PBSC Urban Solutions. Further major expansions in the scheme followed and it is now the largest cycle hire scheme in Europe with over 11000 bikes and 800 docking stations. Each docking station also has a map showing the immediate locality.

2015 Santander Cycle Hire leaflet

2015 Santander Cycle Hire leaflet

2010 Barclays Cycle Hire leaflet

2010 Barclays Cycle Hire leaflet

Sponsorship of the scheme transferred from Barclays to Santander in 2015. Free paper leaflets were produced that explained the scheme and how to hire cycles. A good street map also showed the location of cycle docking stations.

Reflecting the large extension in the scheme in the intervening years, the paper map of the Santander Cycles provision is huge. While the TfL map for Barclays Cycle Hire measures 590mm x 420mm, the open Santander sheet measures 890mm x 625mm. This is one of the largest paper maps available, free of charge, for London. Today, most users can access an online map that provides the same detail.

Free TfL map of London streets showing Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations. 2010

Free TfL map of London streets showing Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations. 2010

Free TfL leaflet on the Santander Cycle Hire scheme. This includes a street map that is over twice as large as the Barclays Cycle map. Some street names are now omitted on this version however paths across parks are included. 2015

Centre section from free TfL leaflet on the Santander Cycle Hire scheme. This leaflet includes a street map that is over twice as large as the Barclays Cycle map. Some street names are now omitted on this version however paths across parks are included. 2015

River Services

Thames Clipper boarding pass, 2015

Thames Clipper boarding pass, 2015

TfL have not provided any maps detailing River Services, such as the Thames Clipper, that are of much use to anyone seeking to walk around London.

'Getting around in Central London'. June 2019

‘Getting around in Central London’. June 2019

The closest TfL have come was with a variant of a standard Tube map. Expanding on the handy folding, pocket sized ‘Tube Map’, another version of the standard leaflet advises on ‘Getting around Central London’ and as well as a map of the underground lines, includes both a basic map of River Services and a simple walking map with detail on the Santander Cycles, tourist route and feeder routes in central London.

While it would be difficult to fully explore central London with just this little leaflet, it actually does quite a good job of combining basic information on a handful of transport alternatives.

Map detail from free TfL 'Getting around in Central London' leaflet. June 2019

Map detail from free TfL ‘Getting around in Central London’ leaflet. June 2019

North Bank

TfL guide to walking in the North Bank area of London, 2017

TfL guide to walking in the North Bank area of London, 2017

TfL have also targeted pedestrians with the production of simple discreet guides to walking the streets in some London districts. The city originally formed on the north bank of the River Thames and today, centuries later, many important buildings are found there.

TfL’s 2017 guide to exploring by foot the North Bank area, taking in Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Covent Garden includes additional information on mainline rail and Tube links alongside cycle docking stations.

The map is a mixture of styles and the simple pictorial suggestions of major buildings, such as the National Gallery, Covent Garden Market and the Royal Opera House are a great aid to a tourist in identifying specific locations while surrounded by many other impressive structures dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

TfL's guide to the North Bank truly integrates the pedestrian into a the various alternative forms of transport. The map is based on 2017 Ordnance Survey mapping with added pictorial representation of important buildings. Copyright Transport for London 2017

TfL’s guide to London’s North Bank truly integrates the pedestrian with the various alternative forms of transport. The guide is based on 2017 Ordnance Survey mapping with added pictorial representation of important buildings. Copyright Transport for London 2017

Emirates Air Line

'Boarding Pass' for the Emirates Air-Line. 2015

‘Boarding Pass’ for the Emirates Air-Line. 2015

The Emirates Air Line opened 28 June 2012. The kilometre long cable car service crosses the River Thames and connects the Greenwich Peninsula, home of the 02 indoor shopping, dining and entertainment centre with the Royal Victoria Docks, site of the ExCel convention centre. The cable car route was immediately added to the Tube map however, as previously mentioned, Tube maps are of little use to those walking in London. Paper maps showing the area local to each cable car station were produced but are minimal in useful navigation detail. Though an enjoyable ride, the cable car ride has never seen much use, linking two parts of London that are perhaps better served by other means. The number of people travelling can be less than a thousand a day on occasion.

Transport for London leaflet, with map, for the Emirates Air Line. June 2012

Transport for London leaflet, with map, for the Emirates Air Line. June 2012

Walking between Tube stations

Anyone that has travelled by Tube in London is very familiar with the handy little paper pocket guide to the network. Large print versions are also available and large scale posters showing the map are widely displayed- on trains, platforms and station concourses. The diagrammatic map is constantly updated online and frequent updating of map content is made each year that reflects extensions to the various lines and permanent additions and temporary closures.

Colour large print Tube map with standard pocket size version. Both December 2019

Colour large print Tube map with standard pocket size version. Each includes ‘under a 10 minute walk’ detail. Both December 2019

Detail from December 2019 Tube map showing the addition to the key to lines and symbols on the maps

Detail from December 2019 Tube map showing the addition to the key to lines and symbols on the maps

December 2018 'The Bower of Bliss' Tube Map introduced the ten minute walk dotted lines to the network diagram

‘The Bower of Bliss’ Tube Map introduced the ten minute walk dotted lines to the network diagram. December 2018

Beginning with the December 2018 ‘The Bower of Bliss‘ tube map, a subtle addition was made that is especially helpful for those frustrated by a previous failing of the maps- a dotted line has been added where there is only a short walk at surface level between some stations on different lines, negating the need to make quite complex or needless journeys between them on the Tube network.

When the ‘under a 10 minute walk’ addition was made, the central area (Zone 1) of London was largely ignored due to the cramped aspect of the map in this area, the large number of stations and the sheer impracticality of showing all possible ground level walking connections. There are also some glaring omissions outside the central area but no doubt future map refinement will add these where practical and possible on an already cramped map. In addition to the standard Tube map, there is also an online version of the map that provides an indication of how long it takes to walk between stations.

TfL London Tube map. This includes detail on some stations where there is less than ten minutes walk between them. May 2019

Transport for London Tube map. This includes detail on some stations where there is less than ten minutes walk between them. May 2019

London- Summer 2012 Map

Large free map produced by TfL for Summer 2012

Large free map produced by TfL for Summer 2012

Possibly the best free paper map ever produced by TfL was the large (990mm x 620mm) double sided map released as part of the 2012 celebrations when London hosted the Olympic Games.

Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people unfamiliar with London descended upon the city. Not only for the Olympic Games but also for the many other cultural events that were offered throughout the year. There was a very real possibility of public transport being swamped and recognising this, TfL produced a wide range of free maps assisting people with walking the streets between locations.

While many minor streets go nameless, the detail included on this free map is fantastic. It also covers parts of London largely ignored elsewhere, especially in East London. Some detail is included on the map of six specially developed ‘Stroll’ routes, Three Points of the Compass will cover these in a future blog in this series when looking at maps produced for sporting occasions.

Detail from TfL produced Summer 2012 map. Based on Ordnance Survey mapping. This map included detail on East London, an area that is seldom represented in free map resources. April 2012

Detail from TfL produced Summer 2012 map. Based on Ordnance Survey mapping. This map included detail on East London, an area that is seldom represented in free map resources. April 2012

Detail from large free Summer 2012 map produced by TfL. While many places go un-named, for example those in Hyde Park, paths across green spaces are included. Based on Ordnance Survey mapping. April 2012

Detail from large free Summer 2012 map produced by TfL. While many places go un-named, for example those in Hyde Park, paths across green spaces are included. Based on Ordnance Survey mapping. April 2012

Most people choosing to walk across London today will be accessing some form of online mapping resource and there are also some excellent official portals. However, a paper map continues to provide an idea of the bigger picture, where the current location is and how it relates to the larger city. Paper maps can be stuffed into a pocket with no worries as to batteries fading, they can be scribbled on, they remain a memento of a visit to the great metropolis. In the next of this short series on free maps for walking in London, Three Points of the Compass shall be looking at some of the paper maps that have been available for people visiting London when attending some of the Royal celebrations over the years.

Free maps for exploring London

Trail talk: A brief history of FREE maps for walking in London

London is pretty big. While the City of London is just 1.12 square miles in area, Greater London today covers over 600 square miles. Local learnt geographical knowledge is great for residents or frequent visitors, but what of the individual who historically has wanted to explore the unfamiliar streets and parks or wished to visit a particular destination?

Anyone who has used an Ordnance Survey map will appreciate that they are probably the finest aid to country walking, however try and use one in a city and it is just about impossible to follow a route on their maps. An alternative would be sought. There have been a number of commercial London maps produced, there have also been quite a number of free maps that have frequently been all that is required. Three Points of the Compass takes a glance at some of the useful paper maps for London that those in the know could, and can, obtain for FREE. Clicking on any image will enlarge it.

Map showing the streets within the South Eastern Postal District. From 'Post Office Principle Streets and Places. London and its environs as divided into Postal Districts with maps'. Printed by George E. Eyre and William Sottiswoode in April 1857, the public could view this publication in Head Post Offices

Map showing the streets within London’s South Eastern Postal District. From ‘Post Office Principle Streets and Places. London and its environs as divided into Postal Districts with maps’. Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode in April 1857. In the nineteenth century the public could view this publication in Head Post Offices

The production of a map costs money, to produce a good map costs a lot of money. However over the decades visitors to London have been able to pick up or consult, free of charge, paper maps to aid in walking the streets of the largest city in the United Kingdom. Such maps would often only show more central districts and environs are traditionally poorly served. Free paper maps for the public have usually been produced with a particular purpose in mind. That is- advertising particular products, services or to encourage tourism.

Paper maps were also provided for members of clubs and associations where a membership fee had already been paid, that subscription going toward the cost of producing or licencing maps. The public could for many years also view maps at Head Post Offices and Libraries for free. When Three Points of the Compass was a young man, Ordnance Survey maps could be borrowed with a library ticket just as any book from the shelves could. The public also had the opportunity to examine, free of charge, specimen maps produced by the Ordnance Survey at over 700 Head Post Office across the UK. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Small folding map of London given out in post offices in the city

Small folding map of London given out in post offices in the city

In the 1990s and 2000s, it was possible to pick up a small, but free, folding map in larger post offices in London. Normally, these maps were distributed to tourists exchanging money at the Post Office Bureau de Change. However, ask nicely, and it was invariably possible to receive a free map without exchanging currency. Other UK cities had similar maps available from their larger post offices with similar detail of their neighbouring streets. The detail on these maps is minimal with few street names included. However tourist spots are named and paths are shown across larger parks. So successful was this product that they are now widely available, with a different cover, focusing on differing city features, now with a cover price, in many shops and are aimed at overseas tourists.

Folding map produced for the Post Office and published by thinkmaps. Copyright Trailzoom Ltd. 1996-2007, touristmaps.uk.net 2007

Folding map produced for Post Office distribution and published by thinkmaps. Copyright Trailzoom Ltd. 1996-2007, touristmaps.uk.net 2007

The history of walking London by foot for leisure isn’t a particularly old one. For London residents, the idea of actually exploring it’s streets didn’t extend beyond the Georgian penchant for promenading. This was when the upper class walked the safer streets and green spaces in the late afternoon with the aim of being seen by others in the social elite. None of these well-dressed, and well-heeled, pedestrians were interested in free maps so there was no market for them. Later, at the end of the 19th century this same social class indulged in flâneur- a more strict definition of which was to wander or stroll without purpose other than observation, however this was still mostly an exercise in vanity. Again, there was little commercial point in the production of free maps.

Section from a 1968 map prepared by Kellys.

Section from a London districts map prepared by Kelly’s in 1968. The Post Office produced accurate directories and maps from 1800. One of their officials, Frederic Kelly, began producing his Post Office Directory of London from 1836, albeit without official sanction. The Kelly maps were especially detailed and accurate and could be viewed by the public in larger post offices and libraries as well as being available for purchase

1851 saw a massive influx of visitors to London, many for the first time. The majority of these visitors were from the middle and lower classes. They were visiting to view the first ever World Fair taking place in the nation’s capital. This was an exhibition of culture and industry organised by Henry Cole and Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria. It took place In Hyde Park, London from 1 May to 15 October 1851 and was a direct response to the successful fairs that France had mounted in Paris since 1798. Over six million people, equivalent to a third of the entire population of Britain at the time, visited including Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens. Though in reality some visitors went two or more times. For this event, new time visitors to London could, quite literally, follow the crowd, and an intimate knowledge of the streets was not necessarily required.

Map of London for visitors to the Great Exhibition, 1851. Prepared by J. Reynolds, 174 The Strand

Map of London (part) for visitors to the Great Exhibition, 1851. Drawn by H. Martin, published by James Reynolds

An excellent map of both London and the park itself, together with helpful information was drawn and engraved by Henry Martin, 8 Dyers Buildings, Holborn, and published by James Reynolds but, like the exhibition itself, this was intended to turn a profit. It cost 1 shilling, which was a fifth of the cheapest cost of entry to the newly built Crystal Palace itself. While most members of a party taking advantage of the special rates provided by the railway companies would not have purchased such a thing, they would no doubt have consulted a copy held by their group leader, frequently the local town vicar. Beyond viewing such a map purchased by someone else, there was very little, if anything, available for free for someone to use when walking in central London or it’s fringes. Beyond a visit to the exhibition itself, within the map’s accompanying booklet was good advice on the best way to explore London:

“the best way for a stranger to ascertain the plans of London is first to explore what may be termed its arteries- the main thoroughfares and lines of street which divide it longitudinally. Starting from Hyde-park along Piccadilly, turn down St. James’s street and continue along Pall-mall, by Charing-cross, the Strand, St. Paul’s and Lombard-street, to Whitechapel Church,; and return by Leadenhall-street and Holborn, and along Oxford-street to Hyde-park. This will be a walk or a ride of about nine miles through the heart of the metropolis. He may afterwards make another circuit by passing from Charing-cross southward, crossing Westminster-bridge, passing the obelisk, and reaching London-bridge by the Borough, Gracechurch-street and Bishopsgate-street, will conduct him to Shoreditch Church, and, turning short to the left, he may return to Charing-cross, by the City-road, Kings-cross, New-road, Edgeware-road, Park-lane, Grosvenor-place, Pimlico and Westminster Abbey. This will be a route of about eleven miles”

London transport maps

Probably the earliest free paper maps that anyone could practically use for walking to a destination in London were those produced in the late nineteenth century by the London transport companies. These companies needed to show where their routes lay and encourage workers and travellers to use their services. Such maps continued to be produced into the 20th century in ever increasing numbers and formats and production continues to this day. Maps showing tram, omnibus/bus and coach routes would overlay lines and stations over a street map. Some would also show the route of the London Tube system that lay mostly underground. Available for free, they were often perfectly adequate for anyone who chose to walk rather than ride. However every now and and then quite terrible maps have been produced.

The first map of the London Underground showed the lines, few that they were at the time, overlain on a street plan. However the map was not particularly helpful to those travelling above ground, not those underground. 1908

The first public map of the London Underground showed the lines overlain on a street plan. However the map was not particularly helpful to those travelling above ground, nor those underground. 1908

Harry Beck, the map responsible for the radical redesign of the London Tube map

Harry Beck, the man responsible for the radical redesign of the London Tube map

The first maps of the London Underground system had normal street maps and the lines of the underground railways superimposed. This was replaced in 1921 with a tube network map with above ground detail other than stations and the River Thames omitted. This was more than adequate for underground rail travellers but obviously of no use to those walking above ground.

The central area of the tube map was squashed and Harry Beck’s idea of expanding the central area, distorting above ground geography and making the map schematic rather than geographic, was a step change in map design.

Map of the General Omnibus Routes provided free to the public by the London General Omnibus Co. Ltd. 1928

Map of the General Omnibus Routes provided free to the public by the London General Omnibus Co. Ltd. 1928

A striking step-change it may have been, but of limited help to those walking London streets. Despite mirroring the success of the Beck Underground maps, some bus maps have occasionally fallen victim to producing similar diagrammatic maps that failed miserably to support anyone attempting to navigate London’s complex streets.

Where bus maps have worked best for the pedestrian is, fairly obviously, when a geographical style has been retained. All the better both for a passenger to themselves in relation to the streets being passed through, but also for onward journey by foot. One of the best features of these maps, both bus and tube, is their pocket sized dimensions. The folded 1928 Omnibus map shown below measures just 75mm x 144mm when folded. These are almost the same dimensions as a 2019 tube map I have on my desk in front of me- 75mm x 150mm.

Drawn by the accomplished artist, illustrator and cartographer Alfred Edward Taylor, the Map of the General Omnibus Routes is both attractive and practical, if a little small scale for those hoping to use it for navigation by foot, as it covers all of Greater London.

Map of the General Omnibus Routes, issued free by the London General Omnibus Co. Ltd. Drawn by Alfred E. Taylor, the map is an ideal size for use in the hand. Printed by Waterlow & Sons, 1928

Map of the General Omnibus Routes, issued free by the London General Omnibus Co. Ltd. Drawn by Alfred E. Taylor, the map is an ideal size for use in the hand. Printed by Waterlow & Sons, 1928, however map design is dated 1927

Bus map to the central London area. Published by London Transport and issued free. 1946

Bus map to the central London area. Published by London Transport and issued free. 1946

The bus and tube companies seem to have hit on the optimum size for their free maps almost from the outset. The map above, held by Three Points of the Compass, measures 445mm x 577mm when open.

The rear of the map, in common with almost all others likewise produced, is stuffed with information for the traveller. On these earlier maps almost all information relates to routes, destinations, days of operation etc. It was only later, when attempting to attract the tourist and non-commuter, that more general information of places of interest was included.

In contrast to the attractive and intuitive map design above, the bus map below follows a diagrammatic style, even altering the gentle flowing curves of the River Thames to something more akin to that found in an electrician’s manual. I don’t like it and many who used it didn’t either and a return to more practical freely issued maps for bus routes was not long following.

Bus map drawn by J.H. Elston and printed by Waterlow & Sons. More like a wiring diagram than a street map, it would take the most determined of map reading bus goers to navigate London successfully with it. 1946

Bus map drawn by J.H. Elston and printed by Waterlow & Sons. More like a wiring diagram than a street map, it would take the most determined of map reading bus goers to navigate London successfully with it. 1946

Compare the above diagrammatic style with the 1959 example below. Though simple and omitting streets, it is nonetheless easy to follow on the ground and more than sufficient for the pedestrian to find their way across the part of London shown.

Small free street map showing fifteen bus routes taking passengers to places of interest in central London, with sufficient information to walk between them. Published by London Transport, 1959

Small free street map showing fifteen bus routes taking passengers to places of interest in central London, with sufficient information to walk between them. Map measures 228mm x 152mm. Published by London Transport, 1959

Small pocket map with Hop on a Bus character that first appeared on posters in 1958. Published by London Transport in 1959

Small pocket map with Hop on a Bus character that first appeared on posters in 1958. Published by London Transport in 1959

London Transport 'Welcome' map produced by London Transport detailing fifteen bus routes taking in 'places of interest'. 1960s

London Transport ‘Welcome’ map produced by London Transport detailing fifteen bus routes taking in ‘places of interest’. 1964

Following the Second World War there was a push to reinvigorate the tourist and general visitor presence in London. Some beautiful and detailed maps were produced but all, perhaps unsurprisingly, appear to usually have a purchase price associated with them. For someone looking to simply walk the streets of London with the minimum of outlay, the maps produced by the bus companies were probably their best option.

London Transport began to produce bus maps specifically targeting both the generally inquisitive and the tourist. In the 1960’s, a range of maps was produced that included a potted history of London buses on one side and and selected routes, by bus, across the capital on the other. These are well produced but omitted considerable surface detail. For anyone sticking to major routes and streets however, they were, and are, clear and simple to read.

My usual benchmark to how useful a free map is to pedestrians is how Hyde Park is shown, or even if it is shown. Most maps will show West Carriage Drive crossing the park, but how do they depict the many paths crossing the extensive grounds, if at all.

Though attractive in design, this 1964 bus map of London has simplified it to only show major streets, bus routes and places of interest

Though attractive in design, this 1964 bus map has simplified London to only show major streets, bus routes and places of interest

Free map of London showing maps and routes across both Greater and Central London. April 1976

Free map of London showing maps and routes across both Greater and Central London. April 1976

Bus maps did not improve much in the 1970s. Only essential detail was added, enough for the bus traveller for whom the maps were intended of course, but little use for anyone hoping to pick up a free map that would assist them in exploring London by foot.

The map shown immediately below was included on the back of a 1976 bus route map issued free by London Transport. Another map, also drawn in 1976 and shown below, was included on a free bus map issued in 1979. Slightly larger in format, a tad more detail is included. Using my yardstick of Hyde Park, the footpaths crossing that are included together with just some extra streets beyond the major routes.

The designer of both maps was David Penrose. In common with almost every other street map of the capital almost no detail of terrain is shown. It has close similarities to the A to Z maps produced by the Geographers’ Map Company founded in 1936.

Free bus map by London Transport. Detail from rear showing central London routes and minimal street detail. Cartographer was D. Penrose, April 1976

Free bus map by London Transport. Detail from rear showing central London routes and minimal street detail. Designer was David Penrose, April 1976

The 1979 bus map provided by London Transport includes a map drawn in 1976 by the Cartographic Department of Cook, Hammond and Kell Ltd. D. Penrose was again responsible for its design

The bus map provided by London Transport in 1979 includes a map drawn in 1976 by the Cartographic Department of Cook, Hammond and Kell Ltd. David Penrose was again responsible for its design

Bus maps have a difficult job. They need to not only give an indication of destination and routes, but also bus numbers and provide a modicum of additional information for the casual visitor and tourist.  Sadly, this efficiency is frequently at the cost of attractive design and moving through the 1980s and 1990s, there is little to commend them to either map reader or walker.

Selection of 1990s bus maps. Ruthlessly efficient and effective for the bus traveller, less so for those walking

Selection of free 1990s bus maps. Ruthlessly efficient and effective for the bus traveller, less so for those walking

Green Line coaches

Free Green Line coach map issued the London Passenger Transport Board, 1947

Free Green Line coach map issued the London Passenger Transport Board, 1947

Coach maps are seldom much use when walking in London. Coaches tend to have longer journeys than buses and subsequently have smaller scale maps. Perhaps, at most, including a larger scale representation of streets immediately surrounding a termini.

The London General Omnibus Company registered the Green Line Coach service in 1930. The coaches linked central London with country towns within a 30 miles radius. It was this network that was shown on their maps.

Green Line became part of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 and it is a map from this era shown below. Anyone using this map to walk around London would struggle, however it could just about be managed if sticking to coach routes!

Green Line coach map. Small scale map on the other side can be folded to join up with upper section of map shown here. Central London is shown to a larger scale. Crown Copyright, the map was prepared by J. Weiner Ltd. 1947

Green Line coach map. Small scale map on the other side can be folded to join up with upper section of map shown here. Central London is shown to a larger scale. Crown Copyright, the map was prepared by J. Weiner Ltd. 1947

Free London map from Green Line Coaches, 1974

Free London map from Green Line Coaches, 1974

Free London map from Green Line Coaches produced for French visitors, 1972

French language map from Green Line Coaches, 1972

The London Transport Board transferred their country coach and bus division to the National Bus Company in 1970. The coach map below was produced by the newly created subsidiary- the London Country Bus Services Ltd. The coach service was by now a pale imitation of its 1950s excellence. Battling to modernise an aged fleet and modernise their image and improve profits, maps were also produced to encourage and assist overseas visitors.

I say maps. They are amongst the worst maps illustrated here and show almost zero artistic flair and very little information beyond the actual roads utilised by one coach or another.

Small map on 1974 Green Line leaflet shows little more than a minimum of streets in central London

Small map on 1974 Green Line leaflet shows little more than a minimum of streets in central London

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of 'Royal London'. Printed June 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk through just a part of ‘Royal London’. Printed June 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk in London and advertising a guide book 'Visitor's London', price five shillings. Printed March 1965

Free leaflet detailing a walk in London and advertising a guide book ‘Visitor’s London’, price five shillings. Printed March 1965

In common with other transport companies, Green Line were also behind the production of leaflets aimed at the general tourist. With the specific aim of increasing use of their services outside general commuter traffic, a range of cheaply produced free leaflets were prepared detailing short walks through London. Accompanied by a modicum of accurate historical detail the maps include just enough information to follow by foot, but are insufficient to wander ‘off-piste’.

A further aim of the leaflets was to encourage people to buy London Transport’s official guide book for tourists- ‘Visitor’s London‘. Costing five shillings and written by Harold F. Hutchison, the guide was printed annually and was:

an alphabetic reference book for the visitor to London who wishes to also see something of London’s countryside’.

Part of the detail within the free walk leaflet 'Opera and Oranges'. Produced by London Transport, these leaflets were aimed at people living within a thirty mile radius of London and was intended to increase use of transport during quieter times of the day. Printed March 1965

Part of the detail within the free walk leaflet ‘Opera and Oranges’. Produced by London Transport, these leaflets were aimed at people living within a thirty mile radius of London and was intended to increase use of transport during quieter times of the day. Printed March 1965

Motoring Associations

Motoring associations also produced maps for their members. Some of these could be purchased while others were issued free with membership. Founded in 1897, the Automobile Club of Great Britain (and Ireland)- the second oldest motoring club in the World, had prepared a London map for its members prior to it receiving Royal Charter and being renamed the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in 1907.

Map to central London produced by the Automobile Association, circa 1935

Map to central London produced by the Automobile Association, circa 1935

The road maps produced by the Automobile Association (AA) are not only of use to drivers, they contain good information for those on foot too. The AA produced ‘through routes’ for its motoring members but demand for these fell when wartime petrol rationing was introduced.

When petrol rationing ceased in 1950, demand for maps again rose and with a membership in excess of 700,000 clamouring for good maps, many excellent town maps were produced.

“members are reminded that, in addition to this map, the Association issues a number of publications of service to the motoring visitor to the Metropolis. These booklets may be obtained free of charge at any A.A. Office”

In addition to the 1935 map shown below, members could be provided, free, with London Route Maps, a London Guide, a map showing garages adjacent to London Railway Stations and a map showing garage and parking places in the vicinity of the Olympia exhibition halls.

Map of Central London issued free to members of the Automobile Association, 1935

Map of Central London issued free to members of the Automobile Association, 1935

Map showing the London West End & routes into London. Printed by John Bartholomew & Son, Edinburgh, circa 1954

Map showing the London West End & routes into London. Printed by John Bartholomew & Son, Edinburgh, circa 1954

The small section of map shown below, and taken from a larger sheet, was produced by the Automobile Association (AA) in the years immediately following the Second World War and was not only intended to illustrate the best motoring routes into London and the West End, but also show garages, official parking places, parking places on bombed sites, ‘no waiting’ streets, theatres, cinemas and hotels.

Drawn and published by the AA, it is printed in three colours. Part of the map was based on aerial photography by Hunting Aerosurveys Ltd. Copyright by the Automobile Association and C. J. Cousland & Sons. The remainder of the map is based on Ordnance Survey Maps. Scale is 1/3 mile to the inch on one side and 1 mile to 13 inches on the other. A detail from the map above is highlighted below.

One of the bombsites in London shown on the AA map had been acquired by Ronald Hobson and Sir David Gosling in 1948 for private parking and this facility enabled them to form Central Car Parks. In 1959, they took over National Car Parks (NCP), who were the UK’s oldest private car park operator (founded 1931). NCP went on to produce free city maps, including London, showing the location of their car parks. Frequently these were produced in collaboration with a partner.

AA map, detail, circa 1954

Detail from centre of  AA map, circa 1954. Despite the large scale, Hyde Park is simply shown as a wooded area, ignoring any paths. Note the inclusion of bombed areas temporarily re-purposed as parking spaces

And what of Hyde Park. The target audience- motorists, for this map is all too obvious. Compare this with the extra detail on the maps supplied by Hermetite and the London Co-op shown below.

Banks

Many banks would encourage new savers and customers with free giveaways. For a period, these included useful street maps, which obviously included detail on where bank branches were situated.

Simple map of inner London included in complimentary booklet distributed by Barclays Bank for the 1937 Coronation of King George VI. The processinal route was also included in this booklet and can be seen in part three of this series

Simple map of inner London included in complimentary booklet distributed by Barclays Bank for the 1937 Coronation of King George VI. The processional route was also included in this booklet and can be seen in part three of this series

Barclays map, Decimal coinage. designed by E.W. Fenton

Free map produced by Barclays Bank for visitors to London. Designed by E.W. Fenton, 1970

While Hyde Park is shown on the Barclays Bank complimentary map produced in 1970, little is included beyond an un-named West Carriage Drive and the Serpentine. The map does show the locations of the bank’s branches in central London and also sought to explain the intricacies of the forthcoming ‘D Day’ on 15th February 1971, when Britain made the change to decimal currency. Written and prepared by the bank’s advertising department and designed by E.W. Fenton, A.R.C.A., it was printed by Davenport, Askew & Co. Ltd.

Quite simple in design, streets are over exaggerated and simplified. Major destinations and Underground Stations are shown, along with a Tube Map designed by Paul E. Garbutt. Another map with an enlargement of the central area was included.

Detail from map released by Barclays Bank in 1970. Scale is 5cm to the mile

Detail from map released by Barclays Bank in 1970. Scale is 5cm to the mile

Complimentary map booklet produced by Hermetite for it's customers in 1961

Complimentary map booklet produced by Hermetite for it’s customers in 1961

The booklet shown here was produced by Hermetite in 1961 and distributed free of charge to its favoured customers, mostly trade. No-doubt those ‘in the know’ would be able to obtain one of these expensively produced booklets that contain twenty-three good street maps derived from Ordnance Survey maps, together with another four maps providing further detail for visitors.

Hermetite made automotive products and was acquired by Hammerite in 1985. In a day where tote bags, pencils, T-shirts and over-sized mugs are given away in their thousands to favoured customers and visitors to company trade stands and outlets, the earlier production of such a useful and accurate map is extraordinary.

This booklet has been further overprinted in 1962 with detail on where the Hermetite trade stand was located at the Motor Show taking place that year at the Earls Court exhibition buildings.

Maps 8 and 9 in the free London street atlas provided by Hermetite in 1961

Maps 8 and 9 in the free London street atlas provided by Hermetite in 1961

1962 overprint in Hermetite booklet provided for it's customers

1962 overprint in Hermetite booklet provided for it’s customers

Map given free of charge of shareholders in the London Co-operative Society

Map given free of charge to shareholders in the London Co-operative Society

Co-operative shareholders

Beside banks there were some unexpected  places where good street maps to London could be picked up. Anyone who was a shareholder in the London Co-operative Society, entrance fee one shilling in the 1950s plus another shilling for the first share, could expect a map showing the location of every Co-op service outlet. The map shown probably dates to the early 1960s and shows the society’s main department stores and centres.

Printed almost exclusively in black, the map was prepared by G.I. Barnett and is based upon Ordnance Survey maps. A great deal of information is provided for shareholders and anyone else to whom the map was distributed “with the compliments of the committee…”. Beside good street detail and an index to places of interest, also shown is the location of Co-op stores, cinemas, theatres, close up of the Oxford Street shopping area and the London Transport system.

Trading map of the London Co-operative Society. c1960

Trading map of the London Co-operative Society. c1960

While the main map provided by the co-op is of most help to motorists, the map on the reverse shows in far greater detail the street and parks on central London and would be ideal for the pedestrian. Click on the image and you will see how this map shows detail in Hyde Park that is barely covered on any alternative.

there is a lot of fine detail map provided on the map supplied by the London Co-operative Society, look at how much is included for those visiting Hyde Park- paths, statues, refreshments and bandstand are amongst the places shown

there is a lot of fine detail map provided on the map supplied by the London Co-operative Society, look at how much is included for those visiting Hyde Park- paths, statues, refreshments and bandstand are amongst the places shown

Estate agents

Anyone looking to purchase or rent a property would frequently be supplied with a free map of the local area. This enabled a buyer to orientate themselves and gain a flavour of the area immediate to the property of interest. What parks were in the area, how to walk to local shops and facilities, how to best commute etc. While the 1980s and 90s often saw poor quality photocopied maps being handed out, prior to this an estate agent frequently produced good quality maps bespoke to their business. Cost of production would be offset by the inclusion on the map of advertising for local businesses.

Part of a map to the Hampstead area of London. This has been produced by cartographers Geographia and is based on Ordnance Survey map and is overprinted with the location of the estate agent's office. Printed by Waterlow and Sons Ltd, probably in the 1960s

Part of a map to the Hampstead area of north London. This has been produced by cartographers Geographia and is based on Ordnance Survey mapping and is overprinted with the location of the estate agent’s office. Printed by Waterlow and Sons Ltd, probably in the 1960s

Travel agents and airlines

Small map produced by travel agent Thomas Cook for its customers. Production costs were largely met by carrying advertisements on its reverse. As an indication of the customer base, these included advertising for the Ivy Restaurant

Small map produced by travel agent Thomas Cook for its customers. Production costs were largely met from advertisements on its reverse which included advertising for the Ivy Restaurant. 1954

The travel company Thomas Cook was first formed in 1841 to carry temperance supporters between towns and cities by railway. Cook also arranged transport to the 1851 Great Exhibition, mentioned earlier. Travel tours to Europe followed in 1855 and to the US in 1866.

The map shown here was produced in 1954 and supplied to its customers exploring London. Though small (342mm x 221mm) the three colour map shows central London and its tourist highlights, together with addresses of the Thomas Cook London offices. Though sadly, paths across parks get short shrift.

Despite including little detail for walkers across green spaces, it is a simple and accurate map, as befits the cartographer- Geographia Ltd. This map publishing company was founded in the UK in the early 1900s by Hungarian Alexander Gross. Geographia were also responsible for the map shown above, printed for estate agent Potters.

The Thomas Cook Group ceased trading in September 2019. Such was its suddenness, that some 150 000 UK customers were left stranded abroad resulting in the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation.

Small map of central London produced by Geographia Ltd and supplied free of charge to customers of travel agent Thomas Cook. 1954

Small map of central London produced by Geographia Ltd and supplied free of charge to customers of travel agent Thomas Cook. 1954

1971 Pan Am map and guide

1971 PanAm map and guide

Drawn to a scale of 1:11 000, the 1970 map supplied to its passengers shows west, central and eastern London on one side

Drawn to a scale of 1:11 000, the 1970 map supplied to its passengers shows west, central and eastern London on one side

In these days of budget airlines where almost any ‘extra’ has to be paid for, it can be hard to comprehend that travellers with some airlines were offered ‘free’ maps, though the cost of producing these would have been swallowed up as part of their ticket or excursion price.

I show two ‘airline’ maps here- first is a 1970 map supplied by Pan American Airways. An international affair, it is copyright Falk-Verlag of Hamburg Germany, based upon UK Ordnance Survey maps and printed in the U.S.A.

Detail from 1971 PanAm map shows not only NW, W and SW London, but also the London Transport Underground network and road approaches to London

Detail- from 1971 PanAm map supplied to its passengers, shows NW, W and SW London on one side.

The map is a garish affair with bright pink blocks, interspersed with green areas depicting parks and gardens, criss-crossed by bright yellow roads. It is folded into the front cover of a small booklet. This supplies information to travellers on currency, taxi fares to be expected, tipping, weather, what to wear, where to visit, stay and eat, night life, theatre and music. However for the urban pedestrian, the map is the most helpful inclusion. Far more useful than the tiny maps included in most modern city guides.

Free map provided to airline passengers by BOAC. Produced by Miniplans Ltd. 1960

Free map provided to airline passengers by BOAC. Cover design by F. Griffin. Produced by Miniplans Ltd. 1960

The second ‘airline’ map shown here dates from a decade earlier. Produced by British state owned airline British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and given free of charge to its travellers, the map folds small enough to easily fit within a pocket- 85mm x 127mm. However, unfolded, the maps measures 568mm x 340mm.

It is an excellent map, showing very good detail, roads and their names, one way streets are indicated, parks and their paths, major buildings, districts and postcode areas. A grid reference is included  along with indexed streets on the reverse. The inclusion of an underground map drawn by Harry Beck is almost to be expected. The map was produced by Miniplans Ltd and is based upon Ordnance Survey mapping. It is a ‘Foldex’ map, a design invented by an Englishman in the 1930s. This folding system has each fold becoming progressively narrower. The free map must have been a greatly appreciated resource, especially when walking across London. One of the best maps shown here. With a legend in English, French and German, the small map was also amended, rebranded and provided by other airlines such as Quantas.

Detailed map of London given free by BOAC. Produced by Miniplans Ltd and based on O.S. mapping, 1960

Detailed foldex map of London given free by BOAC. Produced by Miniplans Ltd and based on O.S. mapping. Scale- 4 inches to 1 mile (6.3cm to 1km). 1960

Heathrow Express

Central London map and guide produced by Heathrow Express and available to the public free of charge

Central London map and guide produced by Heathrow Express and available to the public free of charge

Not to be outdone by the airlines, Heathrow Express, an airport rail link that operates between London Heathrow Airport and Paddington railway station has also offered London street maps to travellers in recent years.

The service has operated since 1998 however the map shown here dates from 2017. While it shows most streets to the south east of Paddington, few streets are actually named. One of its most useful features has not been included on any map so far shown, concentric rings give indications on walk distance for 12, 30 and 60 minutes. Heathrow Express ticket prices and a map of the TfL tube network, along with a minimum of information on tourist destinations is included on the reverse.

This map, for all its apparent detail, is almost impossible to use ‘on the ground’. Anonymous streets with no further detail result in a frustrating confusion if attempting to use it to navigate by foot through London. All gloss and no substance one might say.

Map of Central London produced by Heathrow Express, 2017

Map of Central London produced by Heathrow Express, 2017

Tourist maps

Experience London Tourist map, 2018

Experience London Tourist map, 2018

Every year, millions of tourists descend on London. The wide range of visitor attractions vie with each other to attract them. Other than actually having an attraction worth visiting, one of the simplest ways to achieve this is to become part of the ‘tourist trail’. Various bus companies provide hop-on-hop-off services around the capital, enabling the solo or family visitor to explore various destinations. For a price, a business could get their attraction added to the maps provided, free of charge, to tourists. These are also given out by street vendors, tourist information centres and other leaflet hubs.

Woe betide the place that is not included on the map, especially if they are located down one of the many un-named side streets depicted. The tourist dollar counts most with the production of these maps and competition and production subscribers are the over-riding factors in the map’s design.

Experience London Tourist map. Freely distributed, the majority of the sheet is taken up with advertising various attractions with just about sufficient information on the map itself to enable tourists to travel between them. 2018

Experience London Tourist map. Freely distributed, the majority of the sheet is taken up with advertising various attractions with just about sufficient information on the map itself to enable tourists to travel between them. 2018

'South of the River' free map, 2019

‘South of the River’ free map, 2019

Recognising this difficulty in attracting the tourist, some local councils in traditionally less visited parts of the Capital have backed production of free maps showing ‘their’ neck of the woods. Some designs of map have pushed at traditional design, again with the inherent problem of ending up with a product that looks pretty but is difficult to actually navigate with on the ground. Competing for the prize of worst map for walkers shown here, the South of the River map is a strong contender.

'South of the River' free map, 2019

‘South of the River’ free map, 2019

East London Visitors Guide, compiled 1998

East London Visitors Guide, compiled 1998

The free East of London Visitors Guide compiled in 1998 is not much better than the South of the River map produced a decade later. On the surface it appears to be quite informative, containing information on transport, including boat services, accommodation and a plethora of tourist locations. However the map is woeful. Longer cross-London paths are indicated with dotted green lines however it would be impossible to follow any of these with this map alone, or find your way through the myriad  of streets that have been left off the map. The map includes the Millennium Dome, not scheduled to open for another two years after the production of this map.

“here’s where the traditional East End meets the new city of London Docklands, where the World Heritage Site of Greenwich meets the wonder of the Millennium Dome”

Detail from East of London Visitors Guide. Try finding your way around Greenwich with this map and you would find it impossible

Detail from East of London Visitors Guide. Try finding your way around Greenwich with this map and you would find it impossible without additional aid

Sculpture trails

London has possibly the greatest variety of history, architecture, culture, and social diversity to be found anywhere. Various maps have been produced that explore aspects of London though most have had a cover price. Today, online maps have made such a thing largely superfluous.

Cover to the 1968 Sculpture Trail in the City of London

Cover to the 1968 Sculpture Trail in the City of London

As part of the City of London Festival, in 1968 a wide ranging selection of sculptures were exhibited. A map was produced to enable those interested to walk the streets and visit over a hundred works of art, though some were located in private residences, only open at specific times. One might view London as a huge sale room at the time as most of the sculptures were for sale.

Featuring Henry Moore’s ‘Warrior With Shield’ sculpture on it’s cover, the leaflet and map was published by the City of London Festival Committee and printed by The Ranelagh Press. It initially had a cover price of one shilling though this was eventually waived and it was made available for free.

Map produced showing the sculpture exhibition to be seen in the City of London 8-20 July 1968

Map showing the City of London sculpture exhibition, 1968

Mrs Three Points of the Compass sits beside the bronze statue of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station, London. En route to the Two Moors Way, 2012

Mrs Three Points of the Compass sits beside the bronze statue of Paddington Bear at Paddington Station, London. This is the start point for the Pawprint Trail. Photographed en route to the Two Moors Way, 2012

Small leaflet with map produced by the Paddington Partnership for the Paddington Pawprint Trail in 2018. Just the right size for a child's hands

Small leaflet with map produced by the Paddington Partnership for the Paddington Pawprint Trail in 2018. Just the right size for a child’s hands

If the above could be regarded as high-brow, then other sculpture trails in London have been much more fun. There have been Cow and Elephant parades and a giant Easter Egg hunt in 2011. A family favourite was the NSPCC and Visit London created Paddington Bear trail in 2014. Beginning at the bronze statue of the bear (erected in 2000) in Paddington Station, this trail sought out fifty Paddington Bear statues. The three foot six inch high “life-size” bears on the trail proved a firm favourite with children especially.

The trail was revamped in 2018 and an online and paper Pawprint Trail was published. A Tusk Rhino Trail was also created in 2018 but maps for this trail were available online only.

The simple map provided for the 2018 Pawprint Trail is barely adequate, but it is a simple walk with few opportunities to get lost so just about suffices. With a family audience in mind, the designer has included toilets, parks, play areas and picnic spots

The simple map provided for the 2018 Pawprint Trail is barely adequate, but it is an undemanding walk with few opportunities to get lost so just about suffices. With a family audience in mind, the designer has included toilets, parks, play areas and picnic spots

Shaun in the City sculpture trail map, produced and issued free in 2015

Shaun in the City sculpture trail map, produced and issued free in 2015

Another popular walking trail was the 2015 route created for fifty fibreglass (a trade name for glass fibre) Shaun the Sheep statues erected across the City of London for ‘Shaun in the City‘. Based on the character from a stop-motion animated TV series, each large sculpture had been decorated by artists and celebrities. An accompanying book and paper trail map were produced. Proceeds went to support children in hospitals. The map was created from contributors to OpenStreetMap data. However actual street detail is woeful.

In common with many of the similar sculpture trails, they were subsequently repeated in other UK cities, together with maps, online assistance and participants were urged to contribute to the charities supported. No doubt we will continue to see many more of these fun sculpture trails. They are very popular. However it is the online provision of maps for these that appears to be the way forward.

2015 map produced for families to track down the fifty Shaun the Sheep sculptures placed across London. Four different trails are shown, measuring 3km, 3km, 3km and 5km. Very little in the way of street names is included and Three Points of the Compass wonders how many people got lost without the assistance of the accompanying App

2015 map produced for families to track down the fifty Shaun the Sheep sculptures placed across London. Four different trails are shown, measuring 3km, 3km, 3km and 5km. Very little in the way of street names is included and Three Points of the Compass wonders how many people got lost without the assistance of the accompanying App

Brewers and pub owners

As mentioned previously, there are few reasons to give a reasonably accurate and expensive map to the general public free of charge. One straight forward commercial reason would be to encourage visitors to your establishments, be they theatres, restaurants, clubs or as shown here, public houses. But how do you get the public to visit more than one of your establishments? Perhaps in areas of London unknown to them or infrequently visited. By leaning heavily both on the unique features of your various venues and on the very history of London itself.

In March 2019 Kent brewers released a free map depicting a trail through London that visited eight of their pubs en route. Drawn by Peter Gander, it is an attractive product but not that suited to following on the ground. Three Points of the Compass walked the route in November 2019

In March 2019 Kent brewers Shepherd Neame released a free map depicting a trail through London that visited eight of their pubs en route. Drawn by Peter Gander, it is an attractive product but not suited to actually following on the ground. Three Points of the Compass walked the route in November 2019

Three Points of the Compass walked one such route in November and covered the Shepherd Neame City of London Walk in a previous blog. While Shepherd Neame, who supplied the free map for that wander through London, relied most heavily on the history of their pubs, other brewers and pub owning companies have also incorporated history and mythology into their ‘pub trails’. The small Maidenhead brewer Nicholson’s was bought out in the 1950s and their brand is now used by Mitchells and Butlers for an enviable selection of historic pubs in London and other cities. A free map taking in many of the London pubs was developed and distributed free of charge to thirsty drinkers.

Dick Whittington Ale Trail, released 2006. Copyright Harper Collins

Dick Whittington Ale Trail, released 2006. Copyright Harper Collins

Nicholson's London Ale Trail, 2012

Nicholson’s London Ale Trail, 2012. Unknown map maker

The Dick Whittington Ale Trail produced in 2006 was aimed firmly at the tourist and expounded on the folklore story of his becoming Lord Mayor of London three times. The story could have been adopted by just about anyone however the excellent maps do provide six pretty goods trails taking in: Soho, Westminster to Piccadilly, Covent Garden, Blackfriars, London Bridge to Tower Bridge, and the Financial heartland.

So successful was this map and the extra turn-over created that it was rebranded as the Nicholson’s London Ale Trail and repeated, with a different map and tweaked trails, in 2012. Presumably it was felt that the original map had pushed the brand insufficiently as the 2012 version carries more detail on the company’s pubs, their food and beers and which Nicholson’s pubs could be found in close vicinity to London.

One side of the Nicholson's pub trail released in 2006. This shows three trails taking in both sides of the River Thames

One side of the Nicholson’s pub trail released in 2006. This shows three trails taking in seventeen pubs on both sides of the River Thames

Second side of the Dick Whittington Ale Trail. While this does take in 29 pubs across the three trails shown, the attractive map also provides lots of accurate street detail for those simply exploring

Second side of the Dick Whittington Ale Trail. While this does take in 29 pubs across the three trails shown, the attractive map also provides lots of accurate street detail for those simply exploring and is amongst the best of free maps ever produced for London walkers

The Nicholson's Ale Trail map produced in 2012 demonstrates a total refocu from their earlier offering. This map concentrates on the pubs and provides far less detail of Lodnon's streets and parks. Compare how Green Park is depicted against that in the map above

The Nicholson’s Ale Trail map produced in 2012 demonstrates a total refocus from their earlier offering. This map concentrates on the pubs and provides far less detail of London’s streets and parks. Compare how little detail in Green Park is depicted against that on the earlier Dick Whittington Ale Trail map.

I have shown just one side of the 2012 offering from Mitchells and Butlers here as it is a much poorer map. The pedestrian is completely abandoned in some parts of the City. To the east of the Thames, the area around Waterloo station has been largely ignored in favour of advertising of venue hire.

City of London Visitor Trail

City of London Visitor Trail is adequate for visiting many of London's tourist spots by foot. Each square represents approximately 400m, taking roughly five minutes to walk. Printed September 2016

Map of the City of London Visitor Trail. A joint initiative between The City of London Corporation and the Diocese of London. Printed September 2016

Demonstrating that there is still a demand for paper maps for walkers, alongside suggested routes and things to see in London, a City of London Visitor Trail was quietly launched in April 2013. Having ironed out the kinks a marketing campaign kicked in August 2014. Over 130 thousand maps were distributed showing tourist routes that walkers could follow through the City of London.

Six themed routes: The trails, Law and Literature, London Stories, London People, Culture vultures, Skyscrapers ad sculpture, and Market mile enable people to experience much of the best on offer. The trail received funding from Tower Bridge, The Monument and Guildhall Art Gallery, it was sponsored initially by The Diocese of London. Needless to say an app, map and supporting information was made available online.

It is refreshing that it was still thought practical to include a physical map. Not only that, but a well planned, clear and informative one at that. It may have lacked some distinctive flair but was efficient if impersonal. More recently the trail branding has become more ‘child friendly’ but the opportunity remains for those merely curious to indulge in independent wandering of the streets of London.

Map of the City of London Visitor Trail. A joint initiative between The City of London Corporation and the Diocese of London. Printed September 2016

City of London Visitor Trail is adequate for visiting many of London’s tourist spots by foot. Each square represents approximately 400m, taking roughly five minutes to walk. Printed September 2016

Canals

It is not just streets and their accompanying paths that cross London. The Grand Union Canal System, known as “London’s Canal” crosses from the west through built up north and east London to join the Lea Navigation via the Hertford Union and Limehouse Cut in the east. Anyone choosing to can follow over 40 miles (64km) of towpath across London.

Free London canals leaflet, Produced and printed by the London Canals Committee, 1988

Free London canals leaflet, Produced and printed by the London Canals Committee, 1988

While there are dedicated canal maps and canals also appear on well produced maps such as those by the Ordnance Survey, those maps cost money. Some stretches of canal have also appeared on simple free sheets showing short walks on parts of the system.

There has been little produced, free of charge, that shows all of the system that can be walked. The closest has been the very simple diagrammatic map leaflets produced and available for free from the London Canals Committee. This group was formed in 1966 as the London Canals Consultative Committee as a co-coordinator for canal matters. The map shown here, produced in July 1988 almost ignores any of London away from the canal itself. Following the map, the pedestrian would struggle to know where they were in relation to the wider city. But it would, just, be possible to cross London with such a map.

Revised canal map produced by the London Canals Committee and printed July 1988

Revised canal map produced by the London Canals Committee and printed July 1988

A huge number of free maps to aid a visitor in walking around London were produced as part of the 2012 Olympics

A huge number of free maps to aid a visitor in walking around London were produced as part of the 2012 Olympics

This brief glance at some of the free paper maps available to London pedestrians has omitted a large group of material and a couple of themes in particular. Three Points of the Compass will take a closer look at these in the final three parts of this short series- the plethora of material released by Transport for London, also those produced in association with the 2012 London Olympics.

To end with, later in the year, we shall take a glance at the commemorative maps produced free for the public in connection with some of the Royal events in London.

A winter walk on the South Downs Way

Trail talk: A winter wander on the South Downs Way

The South Downs Way is a 100 mile National Trail between Winchester and Eastbourne. it follows the northern escarpment within the South Downs National Park for most of its distance and is a fairly gentle walk along the chalk downs with only occasional drops to cross river valleys.

Three Points of the Compass travelled down to Winchester to stay overnight. This not only permitted a late night wander of the city, taking in Winchester Cathedral, but also a pint in the Royal Oak, reputed to be 'the oldest bar in England'

Three Points of the Compass travelled down to Winchester to stay there overnight prior to commencing the South Downs Way. This not only permitted a late night wander of the city, taking in Winchester Cathedral, but also a pint in the Royal Oak, reputed to be ‘the oldest bar in England’. Building of the cathedral commenced 1079 on the site of an earlier Saxon Church. The pub dates from around 1002

Three Points of the Compass completed a five month 2000 mile hike in 2018, much of that time was taken as unpaid leave so consequently still had a few days holiday left to fit in before the end of the year. So I decided to knock off another of the National Trails. I walked this trail decades ago when I was in the British Army, but the memory has dimmed. Not only that, but it used to be considerably shorter, originally extending only as far as Buriton until the circa 25 mile extension to Winchester was approved in 1989.

Nigor Wiki-up 3 with Hex Peak V4 single person inner nest

Nigor Wiki-up 3 with Hex Peak V4 single person inner nest

I decided to complete the Way as a winter thru-hike, doing a mix of camping and accommodation. My Z-Packs Duplex had been worn out completely on my Three Points hike earlier in the year so I took my Nigor Wikiup 3 pyramid tent instead. In a nod to the colder conditions expected, instead of simply using a bivi-bag inside the shelter as I have in the past, I took a small one person nest to make the nights a little more comfortable. This was the Hex Peak single inner V4A. It worked brilliantly and the three nights slept inside were all very comfortable despite winter arriving with a vengeance while I was on trail.

The paraphernalia of an evening meal- now soaking in boiled water, my lentil curry continues to cook beneath my down beenie while a hot OXO provides much required re-hydration in the interim

The paraphernalia of an evening meal on the South Downs Way- sitting in freshly boiled water, my lentil curry continues to cook beneath my down beenie while a hot OXO provides much required re-hydration while waiting. There is plenty of room within the Wiki-up 3 shelter to enable cooking inside while it rains outside

My complete gear list can be found here. Accepting that the weather had turned, I carried a few more comfort items of clothing in addition to those I usually take on longer hikes- a mid-layer, puffy trousers and jacket, down beenie etc. Base weight was 9615g but because it was a pretty short hike I carried much of the food I would require. This meant less reliance on infrequent shops, less time spent hunting down meals when the daylight hours were short and less miles added to my total. Cooking was simple- lentil curries, hot drinks such as tea and OXO, granola for breakfast, plenty of chocolate. Tortillas and tuna pouches for three lunches. A few flapjacks were also stuffed in. For this trip I carried the little 25g BRS 3000-T ‘bumblebee’ stove and a 110g  gas cartridge.

Tried and trusted, if a little worn out, my Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack was used for my hike. This had ample room for everything I required, including a few extra cold weather items

Tried and trusted, if a little worn out, my Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack was used for this hike. This had ample room for everything I required, including a few extra cold weather items

Having enjoyed a pint in one of Winchester’s older establishments, I followed this with a meal in the local Wetherspoons. A big mistake, going for cheap and plentiful calories I waited over an hour for my food which was dire and even the selection of beers was poor. A shame as I can normally rely on a ‘Spoons to deliver what a hiker needs.

There are a lot of guides and maps for the South Downs Way. Despite being well-waymarked, it makes sense to carry a map and a guide book can only add to the enjoyment of the walk. I carried the Cicerone guide book, but left the Cicerone map booklet at home, preffeirng to take the A-Z Adventure Series that contains good 1:25 000 O.S. mapping with a wider coverage than the Cicerone version

There are a lot of guides and maps for the South Downs Way. Despite being well-waymarked, it makes sense to carry a map and a guide book can only add to the enjoyment of the walk. I carried the Cicerone guide book, but left the Cicerone map booklet at home, preferring to take the A-Z Adventure Series that contains good 1:25 000 O.S. mapping with a wider coverage than the Cicerone version

The following day, a Friday, I left my hotel at six-thirty, an hour or so before dawn and it was a short walk to the start of the trail beside the City Mill, from there it was an easy well-marked trail, following the River Itchen out of town. I crossed the M3 and was immediately into the countryside. I was carrying around 1.5 litres of water as I set off as I was unsure on how water supply would be. I had been told that many taps are turned off from the end of October. I’ll do a separate blog on the water sources I used.  Suffice to say, I had no problems sourcing water throughout the hike. Highlights of that day were lovely leafy tracks, mostly soft walking, deer, partridges and around a million pheasants…

Beacon Hill on the South Downs Way. The mist barely cleared on my first day on trail

Beacon Hill on the South Downs Way. The mist barely cleared on my first day on trail

With sixteen miles completed by 11.40, my first halt was a little later for lunch at the Bronze/Iron Age site on Old Winchester Hill, just one of many National Nature Reserves I passed through. I knew that with short day light hours I was going to have to get a move on to that night’s halt. But I still took a break for a mug of tea at the fly fishers little cafe adjoining the tackle shop at Meon Springs. Friday’s camp site was at the Sustainability Centre, Wetherdown Lodge. Arriving at 14.40 after slightly more than twenty miles, I had a winter pitch booked which still meant I had a warmish shower and compost loos to use. There were no other campers and after pitching the tent, I managed to get to the cafe on site minutes before they closed for a pint and a bag of crisps. Back to the darkened tent for lentil curry and instant mash. With a long night before me, I settled down in a warm quilt at 18.50.

I slept well, the campsite was silent beyond a few owls, a mouse rustled through my rubbish bag outside but cleared off when I muttered at it. I rose at five as I had a twenty four plus mile day to complete to where I hoped to wild camp that night. The temperature had dropped considerably and I was pleased I had bought a full set of insulated clothing as camp wear. Quite a bit of condensation on the inner surface of the shelter, nothing within the nest however. I wiped this down while the tawny owls set off again, breakfast, ablutions, packed and away prior to seven. A bit later than I had hoped but I frequently faff around a bit too much on my first morning. It wasn’t long before I was into the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. it was good walking through the wooded park until the wonderful long and sweeping descent down to the crossing of the A3. I held a gate open at the bottom for a couple of horse riders who after thanking me, set off at a fine gallop up the slope toward the ancient field systems below Butser Hill that were very evident that morning with the misty low sun and long shadows.

Horse riders gallop up the national trail toward the radio station on Butser Hill

Horse riders gallop up the national trail toward the radio station on Butser Hill

I had held faint hope of a bacon sarnie at the cafe in the visitor centre beside the carpark but that didn’t open until ten. I wasn’t waiting around for two hours so after a brief chat with a marshal setting up for a Park Run taking place later (it was a Saturday), I walked on through the park and out the other side. It sounded as though World War 3 had kicked off as there were shoots taking place in all directions. The path was pretty stony today and the feet felt it a bit in my mostly worn out Altra Lone Peaks. Time for a new pair perhaps.

The mist cleared a little in the afternoon but soon gathered again as the early evening approached, so views were modest. My planned halt that night was at Glatting Beacon but I found that there was a cold wind whistling up the slopes so hunted around for a bit looking for shelter. I eventually settled for a quiet little flat space immediately next to the entrance to the compound containing the masts. It looked as though the place had few visitors, as evidenced by what appears to be arson attempts to the buildings within the compound.

Saturday night's camp was on Glatting Beacon. I arrived around 16.30 and immediately pitched, it was dark by the time my shelter was up

Saturday night’s camp was on Glatting Beacon. I arrived around 16.30 and immediately pitched, it was dark by the time my shelter was up

Another lentil curry and plenty of chocolate. I had a good signal there so was able to chat to Mrs Three Points of the Compass for a while as I sank hot drinks, first an Oxo, then tea, finally a hot chocolate, then early to bed as I could feel the temperature dropping.

I didn’t sleep fantastically that night. I was warm enough but the cold was evident in the morning with a heavy frost. My alarm failed to sound at five thirty, possibly affected by the cold, but I woke soon after anyway. Hot mug of tea and granola followed by ablutions. I had picked a pitch away from the cold wind but condensation was heavy, this immediately froze as soon as I opened the tent flap in the morning. Being frozen, it was easy to shake this off when packing up. It was a lovely clear morning when I hit the trail a little after seven.  It was Sunday and this was the busiest I saw the trail with quite a number of dog walkers out.

Little mist on my Sunday on trail. Gentle slopes could have made for reflective walking if it were not for the blasts of shotguns reverberating through the wooded slopes

Little mist on my Sunday on trail. Gentle slopes could have made for reflective walking if it were not for the blasts of shotguns reverberating from the wooded slopes. Quite a few pheasants would not see another morning

There were quite a few deer in the fields, running as soon as they saw me, stopping to gaze at me from a safe distance, then turning and running again. Partridges cher cher cherred away in low loping flights. Yesterdays Buzzards were now joined by numerous Red Kites. It was a good days walking with the best views so far on trail.

Disused chalk pits on Chanctonbury Hill

Disused chalk pits on Chanctonbury Hill

Approaching Chanctonbury Ring. A feature of the South Downs, it is visible for miles to the north and south. The original ring of trees, long since replaced, were planted on the site of a prehistoric hill fort

Approaching Chanctonbury Ring. A feature of the South Downs, it is visible for miles to the north and south. The original ring of trees, long since replaced, were planted on the site of a prehistoric hill fort

Sunday was a nineteen and a half mile day to Truleigh Youth Hostel. I hadn’t been able to book it as it was on exclusive hire but emailing them, the warden had kindly informed me I was welcome to camp in their field opposite- “hide in the field, by the pond or under the trees”, she had also left the campers w/c and shower unlocked for me. I made sure to leave a generous donation in the charity jar when I left the following morning.

Sunday night's camp was in the field opposite Truleigh Hill Youth Hostel. A lovely still evening and a cold night

Sunday night’s camp was in the field opposite Truleigh Hill Youth Hostel. A lovely still evening and a cold night

When I arrived at the hostel, quite a few of the group that hired the hostel were outside the entrance smoking. What they were smoking I had my suspicions. Drinking and dancing was taking place on the first floor. In chalk smeared outdoor clothes, I felt alien to what was going on but stood chatting to the small group on the steps. I was asked where I had camped the previous night, I told them it had been a wild camp- “wow, that’s awesome”, I quietly demurred- “it was just the one night, not much of a pitch, no view to speak of…”, he interrupted ” yeah, but wild anything, that’s  cool”.

A couple of them were unloading a large sound system from one of the vans- “its a fiftieth birthday party, it’ll be going on ’til the morning”. Oh great! I held out little hope of any sleep but as it was, barely heard anything tucked away some 100 metres away. I slept pretty well that night and condensation was limited in the morning.

The weather was cold with clear skies and good views for much of Monday mornings walking. There were a couple of highlights to visit today. Having crossed the Hulking escarpment, it wasn’t long before I was passing through scrubby downland above Devils Dyke; Britain’s largest single coombe of chalk karst, this is a steep dry valley. Through Saddlescombe, the Hikers Rest cafe closed at this time of the year, then a leisurely halt at the Shepherds’ Church at Pyecombe. The village itself was hit badly by the plague in 1603 and is now split with part of the village now situated half a mile away from the remainder.

The Norman built Shepherds' Church, Pyecombe

The Norman built Shepherds’ Church, Pyecombe

Famed for the Pyecombe Hook, a particular design of shepherds’ crook, I was only slightly more fixated on the dedicated room newly built on to the rear of the church specifically for pilgrims. I declared myself a pilgrim and stopped in to use the facilities and make a cup of tea followed by a hot chocolate. Eating flapjacks and bars  and chatting to a parishioner meant this was a prolonged halt.

The tapsel gate at Pyecombe church is opened by one of the famous shepherds' Pyecombe Hooks. These were made for around 200 years

The tapsel gate at Pyecombe church is opened by one of the famous shepherds’ Pyecombe Hooks. These hooks were made for shepherds and Church of England bishops for around 200 years. A tapsel gate is made of wood and rotates through ninety degrees on a central pivot. Unique to Sussex, only six such gates survive

Then on to the equally famous Clayton windmills, better known as the Jack and Jill windmills. I diverted slightly off trail to go and see these. Jack, a dirty black smock mill is a pretty poor sight now. It has no sails and is a private residence. The nearby Jill, a white painted post mill looks superb.

Post Mill Jill is one of the Clayton windmills and can be seen for miles

Post mill Jill is one of the Clayton windmills and can be seen for miles. She was originally sited in Dyke Road, Brighton and was bought to its current site by a team of horses and oxen in 1852. Occasionally open to the public, she was closed during my visit

 

The uncommon circular tower at Southease church

Southease church tower

handstamp impression from my journal

Hostel handstamp impression from my journal

Despite my halts and diversions, Monday was still a hike in excess of twenty one miles but I was less concerned with finding a camp site as tonight’s halt was YHA South Downs. It was still cold but dry, however the blue skies were clouding over and it was obvious that a change in the weather was imminent. I still made time for a halt at a roadside caravan where two huge bacon rolls were consumed. Also a brief halt to admire Southease church with its rare circular tower. There are only two others in Sussex.

Three Points of the Compass on Ditchling Beacon, the highest point on the South Downs in Sussex

Three Points of the Compass on Ditchling Beacon, the highest point on the South Downs in Sussex

Having booked in to the attractive Youth Hostel, situated on a farm, I found myself sharing a room with one of the most taciturn men I have ever met, also one of the friendliest! Showered and clean, I made my way to the hostels courtyard cafe where the two young wardens- Chaya and Steph, provided me with a series of good beers and the unhealthiest of food options.

Accommodation buildings at YHA South Downs

Accommodation buildings at YHA South Downs

I slept well in an overheated room, only a little snoring from the other two occupants. Both were contractors and were away early to their work. On my final day, Tuesday, I had breakfast in the campers kitchen and was away soon after eight for my walk to the coast, I enjoyed second breakfast at the Singing Kettle Tearoom at Alfriston. I was headed toward the lovely walk along the Seven Sisters via Cuckmere Haven. My final day also had the greatest amount of ascent- 4892′. This was all easy enough though and would make for a great finish to the hike.

About to descend to the famous winding meanders of the Cuckmere River

About to descend to the famous winding meanders of the Cuckmere River

However the weather had indeed changed and it was rain for much of the day, if it wasn’t raining, it was mostly sleet or hail, such fun! It didn’t really bother me as it was driving in to me from behind or my left, so I was able to keep the hood of my Velez Adventure Lite smock up and was warm and dry to the great extent. My legs got wet but never cold, if it briefly stopped raining, the Montane Terra trousers dried quickly in the stiff wind. This was almost twenty two miles from the Youth Hostel to Eastbourne Pier where I was finishing my South Downs Way hike. Then about face and another long ascent back out of town to that nights halt at YHA Eastbourne. I arrived before five  and had to stand outside until the warden unlocked. This remains a ridiculous YHA requirement that has been largely done away with by independent hostels. I was also less than pleased to find there was no food provided on site and there was nowhere in the vicinity. Not fancying another slog back down into town that night, I was able to rustle up sufficient from my almost totally diminished food supplies supplemented by a little pasta left in the kitchen to make an ‘OK’ last meal. The warden even found a bottle of wine for me, bonus.

Walking toward Birling Gap

Walking toward Birling Gap on my final day on the South Downs Way

With my little diversions off trail and the extra couple of miles up to my Youth Hostel from Eastbourne Pier, I completed 108 miles over my five day hike of the South Downs Way. It had been a cracking walk. The mist had obscured views at times but it added another element to the walk in itself. This has to be one of the finest chalk downland walks to be found anywhere. I wouldn’t do it again in a hurry but am pleased to have completed it.

While the South Downs Way originally opened in 1972, the South Downs National Park is much younger. It is the youngest of England's National Parks and first became operational from 1st April 2011. It is heavily advertised for all forms of leisure activity and can become swamped at certain times of the year. A winter walk means that it is much quieter and beyond a handful of horse riders, three cyclists and less than a dozen walkers, al of whom seemed to be on day walks, the paths were empty

While the South Downs Way originally opened in 1972, the South Downs National Park is much younger. It is the youngest of England’s national parks and first became operational from 1st April 2011. It is heavily advertised for all forms of leisure activity and can become swamped at certain times of the year. A winter walk means that it is much quieter and beyond a handful of horse riders, three cyclists and less than a dozen walkers, all of whom seemed to be on day walks, the paths were empty beside dog walkers never more than a mile from their cars

Signposting of The Wealdway is good throughout its eighty plus miles

Trail talk: The Wealdway

The Wealdway is an 80+ mile/134+ km path across the south east of England, from Eastbourne on the South Coast, to the River Thames at Gravesend. Traversing the Weald, walking northwards from East Sussex into Kent, the route crosses both the South Downs and North Downs.

Mr and Mrs Three Points of the Compass set off on a cold winters morning from Eastbourne Pier for our first day on the Wealdway

Mr and Mrs Three Points of the Compass set off on a cold winters morning from Eastbourne Pier for our first day on the Wealdway

Each year, Three Points of the Compass works through one of the long distance paths in ‘my’ south-eastern corner of England where I live. These are usually completed as a series of occasional day hikes. For the Wealdway, Mrs Three Points of the Compass joined me. We actually commenced this in 2017, intending to complete it by 2018. But with one thing and another, various commitments, not least my completing a five month 2000 mile hike last year, it was not until early 2019 that we managed to find time to knock off our final day on this trail.

Looking south from atop the South Downs, the English Channel can just be seen on a misty cold morning

Looking south from atop the South Downs, the English Channel can just be seen on a misty cold morning

This is not a difficult walk. Climbs may be moderate, but it it is a very enjoyable traipse though a changing countryside. The wide open chalk escarpments of the South Downs and North Downs stand above low lying farmlands. Pasture mingles with woodlands, tiny streams and almost forgotten villages are encountered every day.

Mrs Three Points of the Compass makes a short descent through a small mixed woodland to cross one of the many streams encountered on the Wealdway

Mrs Three Points of the Compass makes a short descent through a small mixed woodland to cross one of the many streams encountered on the Wealdway. The proliferation of both water and wood meant that it was this region that supported the first iron workings in the country

In the middle section of the path, the way climbs, crosses and drops from the High Weald at Ashdown Forest. This bulging geological anomaly is beautiful walking, the term ‘forest’ is slightly misleading, it being more sandy heathlands and gorse, with stands of pines.

Ashdown Forest

The High Weald at Ashdown Forest makes for an easy and pleasant days walking

Some 99% of the Wealdway has excellent signposting

Some 99% of the Wealdway has excellent signposting

Sussex and Kent County Councils differ in their preferred signs but they are equally as effective

Sussex and Kent County Councils differ in their preferred signs but they are equally as effective

There is not much written about the Wealdway. I am not sure why as it certainly rates amongst other longer trails in Kent and Sussex though just a couple of other bloggers have written about it. There are GPX files but as it is marked on O.S. maps and I prefer hard copy maps, I carried the relevant O.S. Explorer map for each days hiking. The whole route is covered by O.S. Explorer 123, 135, 147, 136, 148 and 163. I preferred the larger scale 1:25 000 Explorer maps to the 1:50 000 Landranger maps as it is helpful at times to see which side of a hedge, ditch or stream that the path was following.

I carried a compass but probably used it on no more than two or three occasions. I carried the most recently written guide with me on occasion, but more for lunchtime or train reading en route than anything else. A guide to the Wealdway by John H N Mason was published in 1984 and there are a handful of changes to the route shown in his guide. Despite this, the researched notes make for interesting reading and if you can find a second hand copy, it is useful if you intend to enjoy this route. The most recent printed guide is Along and Around the Wealdway. This guide was researched and authored by Helen Livingstone and was published jointly by the East Sussex County Council and Kent County Council in 1999. It is attractively produced with lovely photographs and paintings. However its design is hopeless, the size and shape are not conducive to stuffing into a pack and it has a ‘pull-out’ centre Walk Guide.

There are only two guides of any note that cover the Wealdway, both are now pretty old and out of date in aprts. However they both provide a wealth of background information on the sites to be seen, the geography and history of the diverse route are well covered

There are only two guides of any note that cover the Wealdway, both are now pretty old and out of date in parts. However they both provide a wealth of background information on the sites to be seen, the geography and history of the diverse route are well covered

I never camped on this trail, or stayed overnight. When hiking, we travelled each day to and from railway stations that were never more than a mile or so off route. That said, while various guides give the total distance of the Wealdway as between 80 and 83 miles, these station link miles do add up and we covered 97 miles in total over the six day hikes it took to complete the trail..

Eastbourne (pier) to Berwick railway station 14.5 miles
Berwick railway station to Uckfield railway station 20.5 miles
Uckfield railway station to Ashurst railway station 16.0 miles
Ashurst railway station to Tonbridge railway station 12.5 miles
Tonbridge Railway station to Borough Green railway station 16.0 miles
Borough Green railway station to Gravesend Pier (end) then station 17.5 miles
Total distance covered on Wealdway including station links 97 miles
Only a couple of diversions were encountered, here, a blocked tunnel below a main road meant that 1.5 miles were added to the days total when hiking between Ashurst and Tonbridge

Only a couple of diversions were encountered. Here, a blocked tunnel below a main road meant that 1.5 miles were added to the days total when hiking between Ashurst and Tonbridge. Though I don’t reckon the tunnel was collapsing, the reason given

Three Points of the Compass does like to explore a church or two en route, or at least take advantage of a seat in the churchyard for a lunchtime halt. Beside pottering around fonts and pews, admiring stained glass and tombs, a peek inside the interior would frequently encounter the makings of a cup of tea with biscuits provided, laid on by parishioners in exchange for a modest donation. Very welcome on hot and colds days alike.

Part of the harvest festival display at St. Pancras Church, Arlington

Part of the harvest festival display in St. Pancras Church, Arlington

The Wealdway crosses differing rock strata, each of which has leant itself to different building materials and architecture. Thatch, wood, brick and hung tiles proliferate. Black & white timber framed houses and barns abound. Farms vary from the tatty and unloved to the grand and expensive. Wealden wooden braced halls alternate with flint walled churches. It really is a joy and if walking alone, I would probably have taken more time to halt and sketch en route.

Lovely wealden houses passed while on trail

The 13th century gatehouse and curtain walls are almost all that remain of Tonbridge Castle. Built by the Normans, it stands on the site of a Saxon fort

The 13th century gatehouse and curtain walls are almost all that remain of Tonbridge Castle. Built by the Normans, it stands on the site of a Saxon fort

Horses graveyard near East Hoathly. The nearest headstone carries the musings of a proud owner- '13 races, 13 wins'

Horses graveyard near East Hoathly. The nearest headstone carries the musings of a proud owner- ’13 races, 13 wins’

Honesty stall selling local produce

Honesty stall selling local produce

I walked through miles of orchards where the trees were literally dripping with apples, leaving these it was only to pass hectares of soft fruit. There are often surprises encountered on a long trail, I would never have expected to see a horses cemetery. The trail passes a statue to a kidnapped native American, the sites of crashed bomber aircraft, the haunts of smugglers, dead country railway lines, priories, the only surviving iron pier in the world, and the bridge where Pooh Sticks was invented…

“And that was the beginning of the game called Poohsticks, which Pooh invented, and which he and his friends used to play on the edge of the Forest.  But they played with sticks instead of fir-cones, because they were easier to mark.”

The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

Coldrum Stones Long Barrow was excavated in 1910. It contained the remains of 22 people, men, women and children

Coldrum Stones neolithic Long Barrow was excavated in 1910. It contained the remains of 22 people- men, women and children

An avenue through a young coppice woodland

An avenue through a young coppice woodland

We will never really appreciate just how much the countryside has changed around the Wealdway. While the hills remain largely the same, other than the ravages of quarries and road cuttings, the wooded slopes have largely gone, torn down to fuel the iron furnaces or build the warships, cleared to make fertile land for farming, or make travel easier across a former dangerous place for a hunter gatherer or traveller to be.

More modern coppice woodlands- chestnut especially, or beech, oak or coniferous, depending on soil type, remain if much reduced in acreage. However the remains of the prehistoric races that lived here are in evidence. The remains of Bronze and Iron Age forts are passed, the ‘Tumuli’ shown on the O.S. maps are often worth a bit of an explore, especially sites like Coldrum Stones just below the North Downs. This long barrow differs from others found in England, being more akin to those tombs found in Denmark, which belong to the earliest Northern European neolithic culture.

The statue of native American Pocahontas and her memorial are seen on the final day on trail at St. George's Church, Gravesend

The statue of native American Pocahontas and her memorial are seen on the final day on trail at St. George’s Church, Gravesend

Mrs Three Points of the Compass and I thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Wealdway. Travel to and from each days section was easy by public transport and each day bought something new. Even when the clay soils were wet, the going was never particularly tough and our six days were spread across all the seasons so we got to experience it in all weathers, we even did one section twice, if unintentionally!

I thoroughly recommend it to anyone that wants a gentle and fairly short introduction to the diversity of Kent and Sussex. I loved walking in out of the fields and woods to briefly pass through a tiny almost forgotten village, briefly ponder whether to pop in to one of the pubs or not, reluctantly decide against it (miles to cover) and walk on back into the Weald.

As to my next day walk trail in the South East, more on that in the future.

Taking time out for the crack of leather on willow- A cricket match at Bidborough

Taking time out for the crack of leather on willow- A cricket match at Bidborough

Baseball at Tonbridge

Baseball at Tonbridge

My dining room table is given over to final decisions in my route planning

Thirty five days to my ‘Big Walk’

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail!”

Benjamin Franklin

Thirty-five days until I set off and I am still umming and ahhing over a small number of route choices. Occasional evenings are spent in firming up these choices, while also including a handful of more direct or low level alternatives in case I am running slow or the weather is absolutely foul. It is my walk, my route and I am attempting to include many places of interest to me, either for their historical aspect or natural beauty.

Demands of work

The daylight hours are spent at work. There are a number of things I need to finish off, pass to someone else, or put on hold until my return. I finally received official sanction to include some unpaid leave alongside an extended holiday and include days I have been able to bank over the past decade.

Part of my letter from HR. I am now 'officially' allowed to depart

Part of my letter from HR. I am now ‘officially’ allowed to depart

This is an important aspect of planning. I may be away ‘enjoying’ myself, traipsing up and down the country, while also spending money on food, fuel and some overnight halts. But back home there are still bills to be paid. Budgeting is something not to be forgotten when planning an extended hike of significance. I am fortunate that not only do I have an understanding and supportive manager, but also still have a job I enjoy to return to afterward.

Dirty Girl Gaiters have proved indispensable with my choice of footwear

Dirty Girl Gaiters have proved indispensable with my choice of footwear

New gear

I ordered a couple of new and replacement items. One was a new pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters. I have used these for years and wouldn’t go hiking in trail runners without them now. I find them an easy fix to the previous issue of bits of grit, twigs, and any other trail debris finding its way into my shoe. They stop a lot of dust too, though the finer particles can still make their way through the fine breathable mesh of my Altras. My previous pair have covered thousands of miles and have rather too many holes in them now and are a tad frayed around the edges. Most runners seem to like one of the lurid colour schemes these come in, I am more sober in my tastes. However I couldn’t get replacement for my previous Urban Struggle design as my size were out of stock. Instead, I went all English Middle Class and ordered XL Blackout, flying in the face of Dirty Girls’ entreaty to-

“keep the debris out of your shoes with ultralight style and sass. And you’ll have something fun to look at while you hang your sorry head and shuffle your tired feet”

For some unknown reason the weight has crept up, now 36g rather than the 31g of my previous pair.

A new pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters. Made in the USA by Goddesses apparently

A new pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters. Made in the USA by Goddesses apparently

It was also time to replace my battered Montane Lite-Speed windshirt/jacket. My old one that I have used on just about every UK hike over the past six years was beginning to fray at the edges, a fair bit of hem stitching had come adrift and even though there are quite a few miles left in it. I still felt a new replacement would last a good deal longer.

The 2018 Lite-Speed from Montane comes with a more capacious stuff sack than the previous mesh offering

The 2018 Lite-Speed from Montane comes with a more capacious, yet lighter, stuff sack than the previous mesh offering

I ordered mine through the Cotswold Outdoor website for collection in store and descended on their Maidstone premises yesterday. I reckon this windshirt is a cracking piece of kit and find myself often wearing one, especially when setting off in the cooler temperatures early morning, or on breezy ridges where simply cutting the effects of windchill is all that is required. I find it also often works well as a mid-layer, trapping an insulating layer of air.

Three Points of the Compass and Daughter on the Dales Way. Montane Lite Sped windshirt was the perfect layer over a thin baselayer on this spring walk of 81 miles. April 2012

Three Points of the Compass and daughter on the Dales Way. Montane Lite Speed windshirt was the perfect layer over a thin baselayer on this spring walk of 81 miles. April 2012

The 2018 Montane Lite-Speed is a fairly simple garment, constructed from 20 denier Pertex Quantum Mini Rip-stop, this dense weave nylon is both light and 100% windproof. It has an adjustable roll away hood with some stiffening in the brim. The hood doesn’t now roll away as well as it previously did. My 2012 garment had it folding away into the collar while the newer model simply rolls up to make a fairly loose collar in itself. There is a full length front zip with internal wind strip and zipped hand pockets. These are an improvement over my earlier model that only had a single chest pocket. The earlier shirt was made from Pertex Microlight and the previous 9g mesh stuff sack (always a squeeze to get the jacket into this) has been changed to a slightly larger 6g Pertex Quantum stuff sack. This is so light and handy that, at least for now, I shall be keeping it stowed in this if not in use. The weight has dropped a little too- from 196g to 167g for my size XL.

My new Lite-Speed windshirt,, on the left, shows off the added hand pockets that have replaced the single napoleon pocket on the earlier version

My new Lite-Speed windshirt,, on the left, shows off the added hand pockets that have replaced the single napoleon pocket on the earlier version. The fold down hood is a poorer replacement to the neater and more comfortable previous version on the right

Sorting through the trip piles

Still sorting out…

Have you noticed how maps, guides, books and notes can begin to accumulate into little, and not so little, piles of ‘important planning resources’ over time.

My attempt at sorting out some of those piles has continued into a second day. Once Mrs Three Points of the Compass is happy with how much the accumulated ‘stuff’ has been reduced and sorted, I’ll try and get round to a post or two on a couple of these little adventures. One from earlier in the year, one still to come.

Legible London

Sign of the month… Legible London

 

Legible London

On 27 November 2007, the first prototype of a new design of street signage went ‘live’ in the West End of London. Just about every London Borough now has a number of the distinguishable, tall, upright and informative signs. These form part of the Legible London sign network. Integrated into the transport network, there are over 1700 of the signs providing information for pedestrians, on streets, local buildings, places of interest and bus routes, and enables those exiting London Underground stations to quickly orientate themselves. Circles on the maps indicate a walking time between places, ranging from 5 to 15 minutes. Note the small directional ‘north’ arrow set in to the base of the sign.

Trail talk: Playing with numbers

The Fibonacci Sequence- useful maths for hiking

The Fibonacci Sequence is the series of numbers where the next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. A simple sequence-

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946, et al…

Living in the UK, the default unit of distance for Three Points of the Compass is the mile, however many people prefer to work with kilometres. I agree that it is a much handier unit. But how to convert the one to the other? With an acceptance of a small (very small) margin of error, the Fibonacci Sequence is a pretty useful aid. Look at the numbers above.

There are eight kilometres in five miles (precisely- 8.04672 kilometres), and conversely, five miles in eight kilometres. It continues, fifty five miles equates to eighty nine miles (OK- 88.5139, but near enough).

If you want to convert a number that is not in the sequence, simply add together numbers in the sequence that total the required distance. i.e. if I have a distance of forty five miles to cover over a couple of days, this could be broken down into 21 + 21 + 3 from the Fibonacci Sequence. This gives me 34 + 34 + 5 = 73. Actually forty five miles equals 72.4205 kilometres exactly, so a pretty good fit. And remember, this also works in reverse. The answer is never more than half a percent out from true distance.

A handy bit of math, isn’t it?