14 Surveying

by Malcolm Redfellow

Reading — which is what this blog is supposedly all about — comes in different forms, formats and even media.

This last week Malcolm should have been focused on more of the same from Arturo Perez-Reverte. Instead the main idea was The Rough Guide to Devon & Cornwall.

Anyone who has been anywhere knows what the Rough Guides are like: they guide, and they’re by no means rough. In this case, like Billie Holiday and others, they Cover the Waterfront very adequately, thank you.

OK: no opportunity should be wasted —

Good as the Rough Guide is, it doesn’t get you easily from place to place, except by skeletal maps of main roads. Ah! but Malcolm had the solution!

A quick search located his Ordnance Survey map, sheet 204, Truro and Falmouth. That has been on the shelf, and rarely used, since it quite successfully guided the then-diminished (in size, and child-population) Clan Redfellow around the area in the 1970s. For example, Malcolm can see from the pencil comment that he had lunch at the Shipwright Arms, Helford, on 9th August 1979. By the look of the reviews, giving it a miss this time may not have been misguided.

Instead, last week, the Lady in his Life and he completed the matched pair by having an equally pleasant meal and couple of pints the other side of the Helford River, at the Ferryboat Inn at Helford Passage. Late summer wasps made eating inside more desirable. Conclusion: this, foodwise and drinkwise, is a seriously useful pub.

However, that map is dated:

Compiled from photographically enlarged one inch to one mile seventh series map material

(a) Revised 1970 except for low water mark

plotted from air photographs dated 1969

Revised for major roads and other significant changes 1972

The result of four decades of subsequent changes became glaringly obvious from two events:

  • debouching from the A390 St Austell to Truro road, onto the A3078 St Mawes road, near Probus, showed that there was now a completely different set-up;


  • an embarrassing experience ignoring the Unsuitable for motor vehicles warning, and trying to follow an unmaintained minor lane, clearly marked on this old map.

Time for an upgrade.

Let’s check the small print:

Edition — B2

Revised 2003

Revised for selective change 2005, 2009

and a copyright date of 2010.

Sure enough, it looks good, and at twice the scale — 1:25,000 rather than the old 1:50,000 — by Jove, it does you good.

Here, then is a straight comparison of the area around St Just in Roseland.

First the old First Series, sheet 204

And now, the current  OS Explorer series, sheet 105:

The improvement in information is quite remarkable. Suddenly the degree of detail makes walking a pleasure, not just guesswork. The difference in direction can be seen in the way  paths are marked:

On the old 1:50,000 you can just about see – – – – – – –

On the new 1:25,000 it’s a far more obvious  heavy green – – – – – – – –

Malcolm grew up with OS maps. He still finds them a delight of logic and code. Somehow, like weather, like beer, like food, like architecture, like everything else that comprises “nationality”, these things become ingrained. By corollary, they define the “alien”.