Living on OL1

Published 25 February 2018. Last updated 10 February 2020

A section of Ordnance Survey's OL1 map
This is OL1. Well. Part of it.

If there is a provider of maps that makes a map better than the Ordnance Survey, I have yet to find one. They are a master class in design. Clear, concise, informative. Even the colour schemes chosen are wonderful. I have used maps in many countries, and from many different providers, and none have come close to those produced by the Ordnance Survey.

Many, many years ago those map makers extraordinary started a range of high scale maps targeted at the burgeoning​ group of people interested in the outdoors. They named these maps “Outdoor Leisure”.

These days the Outdoor Leisure range has been folded into the Explorer series, but the old branding hasn’t entirely gone away, for fifty or so maps feature the letters OL in front of the map number.

The first in the series is numbered OL1, titled “The Peak District: The Dark Peak area”.

Now my extensive research (thirty seconds on Google) hasn’t revealed why the good people at the OS chose the Peak District to be map OL1, although I like to think it has something to do with the Peak District being the first of the UK’s national parks, thanks to the role of the Kinder Trespass in helping to open up the countryside to the wider population.

But most exciting was the realisation that my house is on OL1. Right at the western edge, on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, but it’s there.

It’s brilliant to be on there with such luminaries as Bleaklow, Kinder Scout, Edale, Hathersage and, of course, Black Hill. One map shows not only great places to explore in the more immediate vicinity, but also some enticing stops just that bit further away.

Of course it also implies other options. Kinder and my house are on the same side of the paper. Is it possible to walk between them? Would that be doable or just insane? If not, where is the farthest i could walk? And what would I do when I got there?

A whole world of adventure is on my doorstep, and all beautifully documented on one, rather large and utterly wonderful piece of paper.


Stuart Goode

9 March 2018 at 10:25 pm

Hi Andrew, I completely understand the excitement of living within the bounds of the OL1 map – good for you! I remember when the Explorer maps were but a glint in the eye of the OS map makers and Outdoor Leisure maps were new on the scene – whatever happened to the OL Coast to Coast map?
Anyway, wanted to say I’m finally doing the Pennine Way this year after reading your tales and your website is a great inspiration as always. Have you ever done the Yorkshire Wolds Way? If not, I recommend it, especially lovely Thixendale.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

10 March 2018 at 7:29 pm

Stuart – Good luck with the Pennine Way. It’s a great walk. The Yorkshire Wolds Way is probably the walk I’ll do next, although whether it will happen this year or next is another question. It’s been on my radar for a while. Got the guide book and everything!

Julie Cantrill

2 May 2018 at 4:00 pm

Hello Rambling Man

Thank you for your video of the Clarendon Way. It was very useful. We live just outside Winchester and yesterday, took the car to Stockbridge where we got a bus to Salisbury and then walked back to Stockbirdge. We probably did about 17 miles in total – with a pint and lunch included of course!! Hoping to do the second leg later this week.
We look forward to more informative videos from you when you get time.

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