By: Blonde Two

As you know, although we Blondes don’t mind a bit of mapping technology, we definitely prefer traditional map and compass navigation skills (and believe they are safer than relying on digital devices). On a recent visit to London, I decided to eschew taxis and the London Underground in favour of walking around. All good, I had a route in my head that took in Hyde Park and was looking forward to exploring. This, however, was where my planning had ended. In my rucksack, I had 15 compasses and a few maps of Dartmoor but I had neglected to obtain a paper map of London, so I decided to make my journeys an exercise in technology investigation and find out the relative advantages of Google Maps and OS Maps when it came to finding my way across London. Here’s a quick summary of how I got on.


Advantages of Google Maps (London Paddington – hotel)

  • The route was clearly marked with appropriate timings
  • Verbal instructions would have been delivered in a timely fashion (had I remembered to turn the sound up)
  • I was able to immediately pinpoint my exact location (on the map but maybe not on the ground)
  • I did end up in some rather pretty back streets

Disadvantages of Google Maps (London Paddington – hotel)

  • The map didn’t give any detailed clues
  • One walk used up pretty much all of my available battery
  • I spent too much time looking at my phone (I walked at least once through Piccadilly Circus without noticing)
  • I walked in circles a couple of times because I had failed to note landmarks
  • The map didn’t orientate to north and left me mightily confused
  • The journey took almost twice as long as it was supposed to

Advantages of OS Maps (hotel – London Paddington)

  • I have access to UK wide maps so it was easy to find the appropriate London one
  • I only needed to look at the map four times on the journey because it had plenty of detail
  • I didn’t use the app to trace my route so I used far less battery
  • I didn’t walk in circles because I was looking where I was going instead of at my phone
  • I felt far more in control of my journey
  • The journey was far quicker

OS Maps Copyright Ordnance Survey 2018

View, print or plan with UK wide access to OS Maps on your computer, tablet or phone.

Disadvantages of OS Maps (hotel – London Paddington)

  • I can’t really think of any except that the map took a little while to load

I definitely preferred the OS Maps experience to the satellite navigation type walk that Google Maps gave me. I was more aware of my surroundings, more able to appreciate those quirky things with which London always surprises one (people mopping pavements and an older gentleman’s balletic rollerblading) and felt far more in control of my location. That said, I think next time I will print off the London map I need and save my phone battery for taking pictures. It did seem like a waste of fifteen compasses not to be using one of them!