By: Blonde Two
Title image – copyright Ordnance Survey (OS Maps)

Last Sunday Mr B2 and I decided (after a visit appointment) to go and have lunch in our van. We do this quite often and the event usually results in a walk to explore our lunch location. Sunday’s lunch stop was the National Trust’s very lovely Ashclyst Forest. After a delicious lunch, which included several slices of Mr B2s rye sourdough bread (no I am not sharing although he does sell it), we set off on the well marked yellow route. It didn’t take us very long to get distracted but a bit longer to realise that we had somehow relocated onto the longer purple route. As it turned out however, this was a very happy mistake that appealed immensely to my map-geeky brain because, on opening the very handy OS Maps app, I discovered that we were walking close to a very special grid reference.

In case you don’t know, for Ordnance Survey mapping purposes, the UK has been divided up into a series of squares of decreasing sizes (The National Grid). The biggest squares are 500km across and all have one letter (Devon is in S) but these are divided into smaller squares that are each 100km across, each of these squares has two letters (Dartmoor is in SX). The division gets smaller and smaller and starts using numbers until you get a ten-figure grid reference, which can pinpoint a location to the nearest metre (the North Hessary TV Mast is SX 57818 74205).

Copyright Ordnance Survey 2019

You don’t really have to understand all of that to understand the weirdness behind the fact that a grid reference of SX 666 666 would get you to a ruined chapel in the middle of Dartmoor or that I got excited on Sunday because I realised that I was about to exit SX and stand at ST 000 000! I have wanted to visit a 00 00 location for a long time and never thought that it would happen by accident. I was expecting great things, maybe a giant flag, a marker stone or even a black hole. As it turned out the square ST was forbidden (which made it all the more exciting) and all I got was this photo of a locked gate.

You might (or possibly not) think that a visit to 00 00 sounds like an exciting thing to do. I was indeed very excited (Mr B2 was underwhelmed but very patient). However, my zero experience is only one of 22 possible land-based zero experiences (having land to stand on is very important) in Scotland, England and Wales and the queen of all of these is OV0000. If you want to find out why OV0000 is such a map reading thrill and why so many geographers and amateur radio enthusiasts have visited this tiny scrap of coastline in North Yorkshire, it is explained really well on this geography website.

Once you have read it, you will realise why a cliff called ‘Beast’ is now on my destination list!