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2. We will normally work from a large scale Ordnance Survey map, usually 1:2500.  Make sure that we get a map extract that covers the whole area you want mapped.  It seems obvious, but more than once we have been given a map that only covers part of the site but not realised this until we have arrived. If the extract we are sent covers playing fields that you do not want mapped make sure we know. Ideally send us a paper map (even if we are getting digital mapping data directly from the local authority) with a line just outside the boundary of the area to be mapped.  This avoids all confusion.

How do I get a 1:2500 scale map?

If you work for a council or college or major landowner, such as Natural Resources Wales, they will almost certainly already have an O.S. Licence which will give them access to such maps for planning and other purposes.  We may have to sign a sub-contractors licence before they can release the data or map to us.   We can use either paper copy  or digital data in a dxf format (not landline).   More O.S. mapping in now available as open source although not usually the 1:2500 scale data. Newly built schools will not appear on the O.S. map although this will probably still show the site boundaries.  In this case an architects’ plan will be ideal to supplement the site boundary taken from the O.S. map.

It is very important that we know EXACTLY what the scale of reproduction of a paper map is made at, since we set the scale of our basemap by this before we ever see the school.  We do check the map scale when we arrive on site, but If we find there is a discrepancy (in one case we found a map that claimed to be 1:500 was actually 1:437), it slows the surveying process as every survey measurement has to be corrected to account for it.   If in doubt measure a long straight line (e.g. along a straight edge of the playgound) and tell us what length that is and we will check this measuremnet against the claimed map scale.

3. The more up to date the basemap or mapping data we get the better. Old maps mean there may be more changes to make and consequently greater time spent and cost incurred

4. Make sure we get the map (or data) sufficiently in advance of our visit that we have time to resolve any problems of missing areas and still draw up the basemap(s) before visiting.

5. Don’t get us to map the school if you know there are about to be major building works or other changes that will immediately outdate the map.  Wait until these are completed.  If money is only available in one financial year, and cannot be carried forward, speak to us about a written contract payable now for work carried out later in the calendar year.  

6. To minimise our travel/accommodation costs try to co-ordinate with nearby schools so we can map a cluster in one area.  We can then split the travel and accommodation costs equally between the schools.

7. Decide if you will want an English, Welsh or bilingual key.  Bilingual keys can be cumbersome to fit on the map. Would it be alright, if necessary, to put the key, or part of it, on the back?  Should this be the English or the Welsh key, or both?

8. Decide which areas you would like marked out of bounds.  Maps look unattractive with large areas marked out of bounds. The children know, and can be reminded, that they should not be in the car parking areas, or on site roads, so we do not normally mark these out of bounds. They also may not be able physically to get over a high fence surrounding an LPG supply, so again there is no point in marking this out of bounds.  However, ponds, which may be used under supervision in lessons are another matter, and we would usually mark these out of bounds unless they were fenced and with a locked gate. Remember the map can also be used for purposes other than orienteering, when a group might be supervised while measuring or recording in an area normally out-of-bounds for orienteering.  It is your decision how much or little is actually marked as such.  

1. Decide the boundaries of the area you want mapped.  Bigger is not necessarily better.  If the school has extensive playing fields that are to be included on the map the detail around the buildings may be so small that precision orienteering around them is not possible.  It depends what you need; a lot of detail will be ideal for teaching the elements of map reading and navigation while sending youngsters off to the far corner of the playing fields to find the only tree for miles may require minimal navigational skill be will be good for fitness.

We often provide secondary schools with two maps, at different scales, one for skills development use close in to the buildings, the other for longer courses where fitness is tested.  This clearly costs more than a single map, but is considerably cheaper than making two separate maps.  We need to know this at the outset as we will produce two basemaps at different scales, and survey the buildings area in greater detail.

It may seem obvious, but clearly WE NEED A MAP OF THE WHOLE OF THE SITE WE ARE BEING ASKED TO MAP. We emphasise this because it does not always happen!

Sometimes schools in rural areas may have use of adjacent fields or woodland.  Mapping this is not problem but bear in mind detail near the buildings may well be reduced as the scale of the mao will change, and we will need a basemap which includes this area as well as the school  

If you are paying for the mapping but not actually based at the school (e.g. in the Sports Development department) involve the school in ensuring that the map we receive covers all they want mapping.   Problems have arisen where the school being mapped had not seen the map extract that we were sent, (in one case it did not even have the school on!) and this can result in us making a long wasted journey, for which we will have to charge.

How much does it cost to map an unmapped site?

The usual key question!   But it depends on the size and complexity of the site and the travel and possibly accommodation costs involved.  If we have to travel a considerable distance it makes financial sense to map a cluster of schools or other projects at the same time to cut our overheads, and so the final costs.  We charge return journey travel at the HMRC approved mileage rates (currently 45p. per mile for a single person, 50p. per mile if two travel together).  The cost of mapping (excluding travel etc) a primary school will usually be from £150 - £250, and a typical secondary school from £350 - £450.  For secondary schools we normally provide two maps, one of the whole site, and another at larger scale of a smaller area near the gym or sports hall for use when teaching skills and techniques, and when not wanting the youngsters to disappear for long.

How much will it cost to update my present map?

Yes, you can.   But be prepared for a steep learning curve both in the survey and the cartography.  Your could hand draw it but to get a professional appearance you will need to use software.  The cheapest licence for OCAD is about £75 (ex.VAT, August 2020), OCAD is the preferred program for most professional orienteering mappers.   

OCAD 6 is available for free download, but it is way outdated, (it appeared 25 years ago) is not at all user friendly, and the “Help” facility is less than helpful!    Another program sometimes used by professionals is Adobe Illustrator, and there is a chance you may be able to access a copy of this in school or college.  

A free alternative (which I have not used), is “Open Orienteering” but it has had good reviews

Mapping FAQ’s

This will obviously depend on the number of changes there have been, but more importantly on what you can provide. We map (like most orienteering mappers) using OCAD software.  If you can provide a copy of the OCAD (.ocd) file (either given to you when the original map was drawn or if you can get one from the original mapper) this is ideal.   If all you have is a paper copy then it does help, but to get a digital version of this we will first have to scan and then trace over all the lines and objects on the old map.   This will take some time - perhaps as much as a day - before we come to do the updates.    

There are then two routes we can use to make the updates.   We can make a visit to survey the updates and then draw them up afterwards.   Typically this will be from £50 for survey and cartography, plus travel costs.  

  1. We will send you the updated map with the OCAD file (which will make things easier next time updates are needed.)  
  2. Survey the updates yourself and send us details possibly supported by photos - dimensioned sketches showing distances from identifiable points on the old map with such notes as needed - “This Portacabin now gone”    “High jump pit now a grassy depression”   “Tree gone”   “Pond now fenced off as per sketch”    “New climbing frame 15m. from SE corner of building and 18m. from NE corner - see sketch”.  This will cut costs dramatically over us visiting your site.  We have updated a hand-drawn outdoor centre map on the Isle of Man this way using Google and Bing maps and sending a series of draft maps as a trip to the Isle of Man would have been prohibitively expensive.

Can I update or draw my school map myself?

If I decide to get the site mapped professionally these are things to consider:-

9.  If we use an O.S. Map as a basemap then the completed map must include the standard O.S. copyright statement and O.S. licence number.   It is up to you to provide the licence number to us.   If you do not do so then we cannot include it, which is a technical breach of copyright restrictions, for which we will bear no responsibility.

10.  Accessibility.   Can we get access to the site outside school hours?   Will child protection issues mean that we can only have access for specific periods during the school day (e.g. not lunch time).   Such issues will limit how much we can achieve in a day and this may be reflected in extra costs.

How long will the mapping take?

This depends on our current workload, and the size of the project.  If we are mapping a cluster of schools we will usually survey two primary or one secondary school in a day.  We then need time to draw them up before returning to check them.  The checking will take from under an hour to maybe three hours.  A group of maps can usually be finished within 4 to 6 weeks, and a single map turned around within a three weeks.  Some sites have open access, so we can work out of school hours, others are only accessible during the school day which can limit how many schools we can survey or check in one day.

Celtica Mapping 2011 - 2022