One Map

I love maps. I always have. I’ve spent years poring over them, hours planning routes with them and for a time, was even paid to make them. The writer, producer and musician Bill Drummond echoes similar feelings to mine;

Ordnance Survey maps in all their shapes and sizes are the most beautiful manifestation of twentieth-century British functional design. Ever since I can remember, I have spent stolen moments, wasted evenings and secret hours studying the mystery and beauty of the Ordnance Survey maps of these islands.

During the lockdown restrictions in 2020, where our liberties were restricted to combat the Coronavirus and we were forced to stay close to our homes, I was inspired by the very excellent Alistair Humphreys and his A Single Map is Enough project.

This idea saw Alistair taking the decision to explore a single map, just the one, to search closer to his front door than ever before for the things that matter to him. With a custom OS map centred on his home, he started exploring the grid squares and wrote fascinating blog posts about what he found, the people he met and what he found interesting.

A year and a bit down the line as I write this, Covid-19 is still part of all our lives. Indeed, myself and my family are currently all convalescing after all catching the virus. Being cooped up inside for ten days really does make you miss the outside world, so what better time to start my own One Map project?

My map, which is centred on my home, covers an area of 20km x 20km and contains 400 1km x 1km grid squares. My aim is to write a blog post relating to EVERY grid square there is on my map.

This will take quite some time. Not least because a cursory glance at the map shows squares that may not be accessible to the public, one square houses one of the eight Category A maxium security prisons in the UK and several others contain firing ranges and working airfields.

But for all the challenging squares, I know some to contain brilliant pubs, iron age hillforts, historic battlefields and beautiful woodland. Whilst it would arguably been more interesting to have done this project in say the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District, as Henry David Thoreau said;

There is … a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you’.

So I’m going to try to make the unfamiliar, familiar.

I will collect all my posts on this page and put them below. I can’t wait to get started.