The wonders of Memory Map

Published 28 March 2012

We got a present at Christmas that was very exciting. I say “we”. It was actually given to my partner Catherine, but hey, relationships are about stealing each others stuff aren’t they?

The present was a copy of Memory Map which, should you never have heard of it, is a piece of software for your computer that allows you to work with maps. You can plan routes, print out maps, programme your GPS, plot positions and all sorts.

On one CD we suddenly had the whole of the UK in the Ordnance Survey’s 1:50,000 Landranger scale. Want to see what paths are available in Cornwall? It’s there at a touch of a button. Where’s that fell in the Lake District? Ah, easy. How far is it between Castleton and Flagg on the Limestone Way? Just draw a line and within seconds you’ve got it. Brilliant.

But perhaps my favourite mode is one I only tried for the first time today. It’s the 3D fly-through mode. All you need to do is plot your route and click the button and Memory Map will manipulate the maps in to a 3D mode and show your path and the journey it tales.

Whilst you can look at a normal map and get an idea what the terrain looks like, I personally don’t always get it right and the 3D mode really does a fantastic job at representing your route.

I spent quite some time exploring the joys of the Southern Upland Way, which I (of course) walked last year. I can’t help but feel that if I’d had the 3D fly through then, I wouldn’t have been quite so daunted by it all!

It’s not absolutely perfect but the 3D mode is very clever and does a fantastic job of representing what you’ll see as the picture at the top of this page shows. It’s of Langdale in the Lake District and anyone who has stood near the New Dungeon Ghyll pub will probably recognise that view which is not a million miles away from the photograph below.

And despite the photo being taken on a pretty good camera, I know which I think feels more like being there…

The glorious Langdale, just one of the many great views on the Cumbria Way

Memory Map have recently released copies including the Ordnance Survey’s 2012 mapping, and you can buy the 1:50,000 scale version at the Memory Map online shop for £99. You’ll also find it in many outdoor shops but oddly Amazon doesn’t seem to list the 2012 mapping as an option, only the older 2005 mapping. Memory Map also have a range of different mapping options, including 1:25,000 scale maps across the country, and you can put the files on your GPS or iPhone (apparently an Android version is coming soon.)

Officially it only runs in Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows Vista, however I’ve been happily running it on Linux using Wine if you’re that way inclined. You’ll also find Memory Map overlay files dotted around the internet, showing such things as the location of all the Monroes. The Long Distance Walkers Association also has a library of files for trails which are available from its website if you’re a member.

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