The Ordnance Survey has just reduced the price of its 1:25,000-scale digital mapping, which has allowed several of the leading mapping software companies to, in turn, slash their own prices.
Previously the 1:25,000 Explorer maps were significantly more expensive than the 1:50,000 Landranger equivalent, meaning that they really only made sense if you chose to purchase relatively small areas, perhaps a couple of your most-used National Parks, with the rest of the UK covered by more affordable 1:50,000 maps.
Full UK Coverage For £300
Buying full UK coverage in Explorer was just insanely expensive. That's changed now: Anquet, for example, can now sell you full 1:25,000 coverage of the UK for £300 or HD coverage for just £50 more. Memory Map's full UK 1:25k set is priced the same at £300 while Mapyx has cut its price by approximately 90% to provide full GB 1:25k mapping for just £150 until the end of November.
The Mapyx deal is the start of an intruiging stepped structure where the price rises to £200 at the beginning of December, then £215 from 15 December before reaching £240 on 1 January 2014.
We'd expect other digital mapping software specialists like ViewRanger and Satmap to follow suit in the next few days. One thing that hasn't changed is that digital mapping formats are specific to different software platforms, so you can't buy, say, Mapyx mapping and use it with Anquet's ingenious OMN cloud-based apps and software.
It means 1:25,000 digital mapping is suddenly a lot more affordable, and just to confuse things further, it makes better financial sense, according to Anquet's Graham Hughes, to buy the full set rather than smaller areas.
Do You Need Explorer?
Interesting stuff. Before you splash out on £300-worth of mapping however, one thing we'd point out is that with a mapping GPS or app used in mountain areas, you arguably don't really need the higher scale Ordnance Survey mapping anyway thanks to a combination of pin-point GPS positioning and big land features.
That said, in built-up areas and in lowland farmed terrain where field boundaries and small details are more relevant, 1:25,000 scale maps can be a real boon.