As regular readers may know, I’m a huge fan of Memory Map for planning my long walks. For those that are not aware, Memory Map is a digital mapping application for Windows desktop PCs and Apple Macs. It allows you to easily create routes, tracks and collections of POIs to aid you walk planning exercises. Instead of spreading maps out across the living room floor and pencilling in your intended routes, it uses the same OS mapping, but on a computer screen. It’s been the mainstay of my walk planning tools for over 15 years.
It is a rather quirky Windows application though and can be quite frustrating to get to grips with. Over the years I’ve written and published an alternative to the official Memory Map user guide and it’s still one of the most popular items on this website. The guide isn’t always completely complimentary about the product and I make a point of identifying the more frustrating parts of the application and those things that I think are just badly implemented. It came as somewhat of a surprise then, to be contacted by the President of Memory Map in the US.
He had seen my alternative user guide and was writing to let me know that some of the issues that I discuss were being actively worked on with a view to addressing them in a new release of the product in early 2021. He also identified where one or two parts of my guide were now out of date following recent releases of the product. As a result of this, I am now in the process of releasing a completely updated version of the parallel user guide, which will be posted here in the next few days.
I was pleased to notice a recent change in the licensing model used by Memory Map for UK OS maps. One of my main complaints over the past few years is the fact that you have to buy the OS maps outright in order to use them in Memory Map. As new version of the maps come out each year, and you want to update to the latest version, you have to buy them again. There has been a small ‘upgrade’ discount, but it would still be a sizeable outlay each year. However, I saw on the Memory Map website recently that you can now buy an annual subscription to the UK OS maps, rather than having to buy them outright! For £34 per year you now have access to 1:25k, 1:50k and 1:10k (street map) for the whole of the UK. If new versions of the OS maps are released during your subscription period, you can download those at no extra cost.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a game-changer for Memory Map OS mapping and it follows the approach adopted by ViewRanger a few years ago. I can now have the latest OS maps on my PC and mobile for a couple of quid per month.
High Definition Maps
Some other good news was relayed to me, regarding the OS maps for 2021…. HD mapping is returning! In 2014 I spent about £350 and purchased high resolution (600 dpi) OS maps for the whole of the UK at both 1:25k and 1:50k scale. The difference in resolution when viewed on a desktop PC is startling (see below).
Earlier this year I decided it was time to bite the bullet and upgrade to the 2020 version of the maps, but found to my surprise that Memory Map had stopped producing HD mapping in 2016/17 due to the size of the download files. I was a bit gutted and had emailed Memory Map to ask about the decision. Whether it was down to me (and I guess others) compaining about the lack of HD maps, or whether the time was right anyway, I don’t know, but Memory Map have told me they are producing them again! The new 2021 OS maps will be available in full 600dpi, High Definiton.
The Platinum subscription link in the paragraph above, will allow you to download the latest 2021 HD maps when they are released in the next couple of weeks!
Another change, probably to the benefit of users, although I’m not completely convinced of this yet, is the way in which maps will be delivered to buyers. Previously you have been able to select UK OS maps on physical media – this used to be CD, then DVD and more recently, on USB stick. As of January 2021 you will only be able to download the UK OS maps, there will be no physical media option.
Most broadband packages will not even blink an eye at the prospect of having to download 15-20 Gb of maps and given the average speed of most links, they should come down in a couple of hours. You don’t even have to download all the maps at the same time, you can set Memory Map to just download the sections of maps as you need them, which may add a slight delay into the first time viewing of a new area, but will bypass the big lump of downloading the whole of the UK in one go.
There will be some people that miss the physical media however, it’s nice to know you can plug in your USB stick at any time and the maps are there waiting for you. There will be a very small minority of users who will struggle to download a huge chunk of mapping on their broadband link, but I guess there will always be casualties to progress and hopefully the numbers will be very small indeed.
You can view my updated Memory Map Parallel User Guide using this link. The various pages of the guide will be updated over the next few days.
As ever, let me know if you have any questions and I will try and help if I can.
4 thoughts on “Memory Map – An Update!”
I am a cyclist ( ex walker but hips make walking uncomfortable now) so cover much more ground in a shorter time. A physical map is good for an overview and planning in ones living room. However on the road I can’t count the number of times it seemed to start raining or blowing a gale as one was on the corner of the map and needed to make a critical turn. Ive several times ended up on the wrong road because I didn’t want to get the map wet or couldn’tcontrolit in the wind. Now I can keep my ( previously plotted) route in the centre on my phone. I can have 1:50 for most of the time but 1:25 if on a bridleway for instance. I don’t need to carry half a dozen maps in my pannier on tour. Nothing gets dog eared or wet. I can easily compare routes beforehand in terms of distance and ascent
Thanks, Stuart – that’s given me a good idea of what you get for your money. I suppose it’s a little like Office 365; pay for a year then keep paying and get the latest version/updates; or else stump up £170 for the lot to keep forever, without the updates. It’s a no-brainer, really. £34 for the first year isn’t exactly going to break the bank; I think I’ll give it a try.
If you’ve been using digital maps for 15 years, then I must truly still be living in the dark ages! It’s still conventional maps for me…
These Memory Maps look great for *planning* walks – on the desktop or laptop. Great that it can accurately work out the distance and ascent and other stats of your planned route. But what about when you’re on the ground, with just that small mobile phone screen…?
Would I be right in assuming that that eye-catching low subscription rate of £34 annually – an absolute bargain, if it includes the whole of the UK Landrangers – would mean that you would need to keep paying, or less lose access to even downloaded maps?
I will of course look into your Memory Maps guide, but these are the first questions I would ask (as a digital map ‘layman’!)
Hi Stuart, I do still enjoy paper maps, but I only started walking in 2004/5 and I’ve always been a technophile, so I looked for a technical solution to navigation and mapping right from the start. I have never had an issue with maps on my phone screen, even back in the day when phones were tiny and screen resolution relatively low. I can pinch and zoom and easily scroll around the screen to see my local area and even switch to a 50k map for a wider view. If anything it’s easier on a phone, I don’t have to unfold the map, or take it out of a case in the pouring rain and have it blowing around all over the place in the wind.
You are correct, £34 gets you access to the whole of the UK in both 25k and 50k maps, but only for 365 days. At the end of the subscription period, you will either need to stump up the £34 again, or lose access to the maps. If you prefer to own the maps, you can get the same UK mapping for about £170 and you own that for ever, you just don’t get the new maps every year when OS release them. Full map list here: https://w2.memory-map.com/cgi-bin/licuser.cgi?buydealer=1&feature=0x1002102
I’m willing to accept that digitial mapping is not for everyone, but even if you use it as a supplement to traditional map and compass, you may find it makes life a little easier at times. Either way, have fun and keep walking!