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New Footpath, Bridleway, Cycleway and Long Distance Path Additions

For all of you out there that like to know the names or numbers of the various footpaths, bridleways, cycleways and long distance paths on my maps, as of the 7th of August, 2021 the British Isles TT HD Topo and TT HD Topo Pro maps now also show the following data (where it exists in the raw OSM data):

  • Regional Cycle Route numbers (and/or names)
  • National Cycle Route numbers (and/or names)
  • Footpath; names and/or number (Public Right of Way reference).
  • Bridleway; names and/or number (Public Right of Way reference).
  • Public Byway; names and/or number (Public Right of Way reference).
  • Restricted Byway; names and/or number (Public Right of Way reference).
  • Tracks (name).

Some paths, (footpaths, bridleways, tracks, etc.) already had names attached to them (and shown) on my maps. This update extends that to show this data (where it exists in OSM) to as many others as possible.

Update: Further tweaks and improvements to the path, track, etc. names being shown on the maps were made and included in any maps compiled on or after the 10th of August, 2021.

You can see some example screen shots below that show these new additions:

The first one shows several long distance paths, bridleways, etc. in Sussex, as well as one of the National Cycle Routes:

The second shows footpaths and Long Distance Paths (Cumbria Way):

This final one shows part of the Coast to Coast Long Distance Path (including the section name):

All other maps will have this updated style added to them as of the 5th of September.

The Isle of Wight SAMPLE map has also been updated to include these changes.

These are the latest additions to what are considered the most detailed off-road maps based on data from OSM. These maps are not a replacement for paper OS Maps and a compass (they should be used alongside them)…

If there are other important items that you feel should be added, please reach out to us and let us know.

These changes will be tweaked over the next few months to address a few issues where long distance paths have multiple names, such as Regional, National and also International names and numbers.

New Marine Additions

For all of you out there that like to mess about in boats, etc. I have some news. The TT HD Topo maps now include buoys, wrecks, navigation lights, tidal wetland/mud/rock/sand banks, shoals, reefs & rocks. They already had locks, boatyards & slipways.

As of the 7th of June, 2021 the British Isles TT HD Topo and TT HD Topo Pro maps now also show the following data (where it exists in the raw OSM data):

  • Sand banks
  • Mud flats
  • Mangrove
  • Tidal wetland
  • Salt marshes
  • Shoals
  • Reefs
  • Sea rocks
  • Buoys and Beacons (navigation)
  • Lights (navigation)
  • Wrecks
  • Fens

You can see some example screen shots below that show these new additions:

First one is of part of the Solent, showing navigational buoys, lights and tidal wetland/sand, etc.

First second one is of  part of the Mersey, showing tidal wetland, sand banks, mud flats, navigational buoys and lights, and sea rocks.

The final one is of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, showing tidal sand flats, mud, rock, navigation buoys and lights.

 

The look of the icons used for Boatyard, Lock Gates and Slipway have also been tweaked, both for aesthetic reasons, and also to make this markup render cleaner on Fenix devices.

Talking of Fenix devices (and also Tatcix, MARQ, ForeRunner 945, etc.), here are two screen shots of Bembridge on the Isle of wight showing the new features (this was before I did some more tweaking to the Buoys and mudflats:

All other maps now have this updated style added to them as of the 5th of July.

The Isle of Wight SAMPLE map has also been updated to include these changes.

These are the latest additions to what are considered the most detailed off-road maps based on data from OSM. These maps are not a replacement for Sea Charts, but they do offer some navigation and topographical features that will be useful to those that like to explore the estuaries, sea and inland waterways…

If there are other important sea navigational/warning items that you feel should be added, please reach out to us and let us know.

Update: I have looked at the OpenSeaMap charts (also based on OSM data) and they don’t include any navigational buoys, lights, wrecks, sea rocks, etc. So our maps are already more useful to most boat users than the OpenSeaMap ones. I will be adding other marine data to them in the next month.

Update 2: I have now added even more marine data to the maps, such as restricted areas, anchorage areas, etc.

New Style Additions

As of the 17th of May, 2021 the British Isles TT HD Topo and TT HD Topo Pro maps now also show the following data (where it exists in the raw OSM data):

  • Ridges
  • Aretes
  • Cairns

You can see some example screen shots below that show these new additions:

First one is of Ben Nevis showing the new Aretes, Ridges and Cairns, as well as the exiting Cliffs, Bare Rock, Scree, etc.

First second one is of Helvellyn showing the new Aretes and Ridges (Striding and Swirral Edge).

The look of the polygon used for Fells has also been changed, both for aesthetic reasons, and also to make this markup render cleaner on Fenix devices.

All other maps will have this updated style added to them by no later than the 5th of June.

These are the latest additions to what are considered the most detailed off-road maps based on data from OSM. These are specifically designed for Hikers, Mountaineers, Mountain Bikers, Fell Runners, Ultra Athletes, Military Personnel, Horse Riders, Hunters, etc.

Map Name Changes

The TT 1:50K Look n Feel maps have been renamed to reduce/remove some of the confusion around the map resolution offered by them:

1. The maps without DEM data are now named TT HD Topo
2. The maps with DEM data are now named TT HD Topo Pro

Both maps are not a fixed resolution, they are dynamic, as you zoom in and out the amount of data shown changes.

The map style and detail offered is the same as before and they are constantly updated (monthly for most maps; the British Isles map is updated every week).

Both maps have the same raw map and contour data, the only difference is the inclusion of DEM data in the Pro versions.

If you don’t know what DEM is and why it is useful, read this page.

Public Byway and Restricted Byway Style Changes

I have a lot of greenlaners using my maps and I added distinct styles for both BOATs (Byway Open to All Traffic) nowadays often just called a Public Byway, and RUPs (now called Restricted Byways), as these are often legally allowed to be ridden on with motor vehicles (such as motorbikes, quad bikes, etc.) These have been on my maps for over two years now.

The maps having these tagged in a specific way have been very well received and until this week I have had no feedback asking for BOATs and RUPs to be more noticeable and easier to distinguish from footpaths and bridleways; it seemed that almost all the greenlaners that use my maps were content with the way that these paths/tracks were marked up.

However, after the feedback I had this weekend, I have reworked them to be more like the style of those ways on an OS map; the markup is now larger and clearer than before.

All maps dated from the 13th of March, 2021 will use the improved markup for both BOATs and RUPs.

You can see examples of how they will look from that date, below, BOATs compared to footpaths and bridleways:

You can see examples of how they will look from that date, below, RUPs compared to footpaths and bridleways:

I tweak the maps styles, around 1-3 times per year, either to improve existing styles or to expose new data that was not in the maps before (such as new features/artefacts/data).

The Map Key (Legend) PDF file that is included with all TT HD Topo and TT 1:50K Look n Feel maps has been updated to reflect these (and other recent) changes. This Map Key (Legend) file is included with all map downloads and pre-loaded map cards.

All feedback is most welcome, as always…

Contour and other Style Changes (TT HD Topo)

I have had a number of requests to change the way the contours are drawn on my maps; most have requested that they are changed to brown/beige and both the Major and Intermediate contour lines should be solid lines.

That change has now been completed and tested, and a number of other changes have been made too, including:

  • Removal of planned roads/tunnels (not needed)
  • Removal of construction roads (not needed)
  • Nature Reserves, the polygon has been reworked to just NR
  • Added national park, areas of outstanding natural beauty, national nature reserve, etc. boundaries
  • A number of other minor tweaks to further improve the readability of the maps

Here are a few screen shots, old vs new:

Current (old) version of contours style and Nature Reserve markup…

Current (new) version of contours style and Nature Reserve markup…

And finally new version of the map style with new contours and boundary markup for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

These have been tested on a number of Garmin units, both handheld and smartwatches and they display fine.

All comments are very welcome, please use the Contact Talkytoaster link in the menu on this site.

TT HD Topo and TT 1:50K look n Feel Maps with Garmin Birdseye!

Not sure how many of you are aware of the fact that that the Talkytoaster maps can be used with Garmin’s Birdeye Satellite imagery?

Here’s Garmin’s blurb on it:

Use your BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription with BaseCamp™ to quickly transfer an unlimited amount of satellite images to your device, with frequent updates, and seamlessly integrate those images into your handheld’s maps whenever you need them.”

Garmin often give new owners of supported Handheld devices a one-year subscription to this service, so it is worth checking in BaseCamp (when your Garmin is attached via the USB cable to your computer). Otherwise, it is around £22 (GBP) per year. More detaiuls here: https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/p/70144

Here’s a screen shot showing where to find it in Basecamp:

This is what it looks like in BaseCamp on it’s own:

Not a lot of use, is it, on it’s own?

Here’s my TT HD Topo map of the same area (British Isles map):

Which is far more useful, just on it’s own.

But add my TT HD Topo map British Isles map (overlay it) over the Birdseye Satellite imagery, and this is what you see instead:

Now that’s more useful, you won’t see all the detail from my TT HD Topo map, but all the paths, contours, and most other POIs are shown.

How about in 3D mode?

My TT HD Topo (DEM) British Isles map for that area in 3D mode in Basecamp:

And here it is again (TT HD Topo DEM map) British Isles map overlaid over the Birdseye imagery:

For anyone that has never visited Ventnor on the Isle of Wight (which is included as part of the British Isles map), this is almost exactly what it looks like in real life, it is the highest point on the island.

This works for any of my TT HD Topo maps that have DEM in them, anywhere in the world where there is Birdseye Satellite imagery! You can use the non-DEM versions of my maps in 2D in BaseCamp too. It also works on quite a number of Garmin devices, full list here: https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/p/70144#devices

So now you can have the best of both worlds, satellite imagery and still be able to see important details, such as footpaths, bridleways, cycleway, roads, pubs, cafe’s, slipways, benches, contours, etc. Remember my maps are not a fixed rsolution, they are dynamic and show more (or less) detail as you zoom in or out.

More Style Changes!

Good news for those that mess about on rivers, canals, lakes, lochs, etc. I have just added Weirs, Lock Gates, Boatyards and Slipways to the map style.

For hikers, etc. I have also added Waterfalls and Ditches (where that data is in OSM and tagged correctly).

Some screen shots below:

This latest style will be used in ALL TT50 style maps starting from 30th of May, 2020!

GPS Device Accuracy Comparison

How GPS works:

In it’s most basic form, radio signals are beamed (transmitted) down to the earth’s surface from satellites, usually made up of around 30+ satellites in what is known as a constellation. These are spaced apart, and for us to get a lock on our current position, you need a minimum of three signals (from different satellites in the constellation) to get a triangulated position fix (in reality you need four, the extra one is for timing/error correction). However most GPS receivers will lock on to between 4 and 15+ satellites to get data from at a time; these may change as you move around an area/locality, etc.

There are three main GPS constellations in wide use, these are: GPS (the original US constellation), GLONAS (the newer Russian constellation) and GALILEO (the new and still incomplete European constellation), there are also others being deployed.

Just to add confusion, there are also ground based systems that are used to augment the GPS constellations, these include systems such as EGNOS and WAAS. These were very useful in the early days when GPS chip sensitivity was limited and it was not unusual to have significant errors in position accuracy. WAAS and EGNOS are only supported by devices that have them as an option.

You can find more detail, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System

The different types of antennae used in most devices:

There are two main types of GPS receiver antennae in use in almost all consumer devices with GPS receivers in them, these are:

Quad Helix
The quad helix antennae is widely regarded as the most sensitive and accurate of the antennae used by commercial grade GPS Receivers. The problem is that this antennae is huge, so is only used on handheld GPS receivers, such as the GPSMap60, 62, 64, 66 etc.  This type of antennae is also widely used in military grade GPS receivers.

Patch
The rest of the devices from Garmin, such as the Nuvi, Zumo, Fenix series, Forerunner, Oregon, Edge, Etrex, Montana, Monterra, etc. all use a patch antennae instead. This is an internal antennae, unlike the quad helix one. Because it is internal, it works best when the screen is faced up to the sky (horizontal), unlike the quad helix antennae which works best when the device is vertical, with the antennae facing straight up. This type of antennae is also used in smartphones.

External
Some GPS receivers also have a port (interface) for external antennae. This can improve the signal strength in challenging conditions; weather, city centers (with high buildings), deep forest, canyons, etc.

The “Canyon Effect”, what it is and what it means:

As it’s name would suggest this is a phenomena that affects all GPS receivers when in canyons; be they natural ones, or so-called “urban” canyons (where you have lots of tall buildings). This can also occur in deep forests/woodland where the view of the sky is almost non-existent. All antennae types will struggle in these conditions. I have seen (on older devices) accuracy be out by 30-50m (100-160ft+). Most modern devices will have accuracy errors between 10 and 30m (33ft -100ft) in those difficult conditions.

Also GPS does not work well indoors (no proper direct view of the sky), or at all underwater/underground (duh!) 😉

The “Canyon Effect” is also known under a different name, this being “Multipath Errors”. This describes the issue well as the problem is that the GPS signal is being reflected from other surfaces causing what you might call a GPS signal echo as it bounces off multiple surfaces and the GPS Receiver gets multiple sets of position data and gets confused.

GPS Receiver Chips

There are a number of different chipsets used in GPS enabled devices, and these have significantly improved over the last 20+ years. All GPS chips used in today’s devices are high-sensitivity ones. The chip used is as important as the antennae used.

Software

Many modern consumer devices use software to fix common errors, these include “lock to road” so that you don’t look like you are driving in the hedge, field or through a building, when on a road. There are others that use “smoothing” techniques to make the recorded GPS track look more uniform (smooth), and there are numerous others, they all “process” the raw GPS track data and change it to suit their, or your requirements.

This is, in my opinion (especially for off-road use) disingenuous, and causes much of the “my smartwatch/GPS/phone, etc. records better GPS tracks than yours.” that you see in the many vendor forums.

Please only compare like with like, raw “unfiltered/un-edited” GPS track data, otherwise you are comparing oranges to a bowl of petunias!

In Summary

GPS Receiver accuracy is a mixture of chip used, antennae type, conditions, software controls (such as smoothing, lock to road, etc.) It is amazing just how good many modern GPS Receivers are nowadays, even using tiny patch antennae in a watch is better than handheld devices (with a quad helix antennae) from just 15 years ago. Many modern GPS Receivers also support using more than one GPS constellation at a time, this can improve accuracy of you use the correct ones for the region/area you are currently in.

In general use, you can expect GPS accuracy to have an error margin of less than 5m (18ft), and often sub 3m (9ft).

Lots of accuracy errors can be reduced by just changing the mode or recording settings used, as I show in the testing below.

Testing and the Test Results:

As I may have mentioned I have quite a number of Garmin devices (both used for testing and when out hiking).

I am often asked how accurate they are, especially the Fenix 6 series with the new Sony chip.

So, I went out for a 12 mile hike this week and had both an Oregon 700 and my Fenix 6X Sapphire set to record my track, and I have some screen shots of the two tracks (overlaid on my British Isles map).

Both devices were set to use GPS+Glonas and the Fenix was set to use 1 second recording. The results (differences) are quite interesting. Both devices were exposed to the sky (not in a pack or covered up in any way) all the time.

The hike included deep woodland, open fields, urban areas and overgrown footpaths and bridleways where the sky was impossible to see.

First the Oregon 700 screen shot (recorded track is in grey):

And here’s the recorded track for my Fenix 6X Sapphire (recorded track is in grey):

The screen shots only cover a small part of the whole 12 mile hike.

In quite a few places the Fenix 6X has recorded a more accurate track than the Oregon, quite impressive! Likewise in some places the Oregon is more accurate (which is what I expected as it has a larger patch antennae than the Fenix 6X). Conditions were excellent clear skies almost all the hike.

Update: Another track test, this time with just GPS (rather than GPS+GLONAS), screen shots below:

Orgeon 700 (just part of the recorded 12.5 mile track, recorded track is in grey)

Fenix 6X Sapphire (just part of the recorded 12.5 mile track, recorded track is in grey)

In quite a few places the Fenix 6X has recorded a more accurate track than the Oregon, quite impressive! Likewise in some places the Oregon is more accurate (which is what I expected as it has a larger patch antennae than the Fenix 6X). Just using GPS on the Fenix 6X Sapphire shows it struggling (slightly) in deep wooded areas, but still acceptable. Conditions were changeable for this hike, with large parts of the hike in overcast conditions and occasional clear sky.

For those of you with a Fenix 5X, 5 Plus (all models), 6 Pro, Sapphire or Solar (you can probably do this on a Tactix, MARQ, Forerunner 945 or other similar devices) who want to know how to set the recording to 1 second, here are the instructions:

1. Press and hold the middle-left button. Select System from the menu shown.

2. Select Data Recording from the menu shown, and set it to Every Second.

That’s it, any activity that you have set to use System Settings will use this recording setting.

More TT 1:50K Look n Feel Style Changes

I have now completed tweaking the TT 1:50K Look n Feel map style to adjust it for some display improvements, these include marking up long distance paths and cycle routes (International, National and Regional). Several other changes include larger text labels for Cities, Towns, Hamlets, Suburbs, etc. and Ferry Routes! See the screen shots below of how they now look:

Here is the DEM map in 3D mode, the long distance path is marked-up with dashed yellow surround over the existing footpath, bridleway, road, etc. You can see the Cumbrian Way using this new style.

Here is the DEM map in 2D mode, the long distance path is marked-up with dashed yellow surround over the existing footpath, bridleway, road, track, etc.

Long distance cycle paths are marked up with light-blue dashed surround and where both exist on the same path, they are both yellow and blue (alternate) dashes surrounding the original track, cycleway, road, bridleway, etc. mark-up. You can see the Cumbrian Way using this new style.

Here’s a screen shot showing both long distance paths (Hadrian’s Wall) and also Cycle Networks:

This new style will become the standard for all new compiled versions of the maps from the 7th of October, 2019. The TT 1:50K Look n Feel British Isles maps are now in this improved style and all other TT 1:50K Look n Feel maps will use this before the 14th of October, 2019.