Harvey Maps are a really interesting alternative to OS or open-data maps, and provide a really clear and easy to read navigation tool – in this case for a specific route; the Shropshire Way.
Now, I’ll admit that I chose to review this map not because I planned to walk the whole route but because it’s my first foray in to the world of Harvey Maps and I wanted one which showed a route local to me, so I could compare and contrast with what was actually on the ground.
If you’ve grown up with OS maps and are used to their scale and colours, you’ll open up your first Harvey Map and be a little bewildered. There are sensible common-elements without which a lot of people would seriously struggle – Harvey uses standard OS grid lines and numbering – but beyond that you’ll be looking at different land and feature colours and symbols.
Once you’re familiar with those differences – and crucially, the fact that the National Trail Map Series uses a 1:40,000 scale (1 KM = 2.5cm) – the routes are actually REALLY well thought out, and in some cases tell you more about what to expect on a walk than an OS Map. If your compass doesn’t have a 1:40000 scale romer, Harvey sells one for £1.50 from their website.
The Harvey Maps are made by a combination of photogrammetry (aerial photos) and actual surveys, so they can indicate where a marked trail doesn’t actually exist on the ground. I found that super-useful for stopping me following sheep trails rather than the actual direction of a way. And because a single route is broken in to sections denoted by different types of lines (solid, dashed, dotted) you know just how well a section of route will be marked before you get there. Useful if the weather is closing in.
The map itself is printed on waterproof plastic, and several thorough soakings haven’t so much as weakened it. And because it’s printed directly on to the plastic, it’s much less weighty and slim than a laminated paper map.
I’m a convert to the Harvey Maps way of doing things. The map is easy to use day or night, the scale seems actually pretty good for a longer route, and the physical strength of the map is great.
Now, if only the good folk of Shropshire would actually clear some of the footpaths and overgrown stiles so we could explore the paths on this map…!
Note: Other long distance trails have been mapped, and come it at varying prices, depending on the length of the route. See link above.