Review of ‘The A-Z of Mrs P’

Straight away you’re thinking this review of The A-Z of Mrs P is going to be full of compliments and glowing praise and I’ll be encouraging you to go and see it because we think it’s fantastic. Well you’d be right, and for that I make no apologies whatsoever because actually, all I’m doing is telling you the truth!

Now I’m not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a theatre critic. I know what I myself like to spend time watching at the theatre (although the Lion King three times in one year may be a tad extreme), but I’m under no illusion that my opinion and preferences will always match those of the ‘professionals’, i.e., critics for the media. However, having been to see ‘The A-Z of Mrs P’ last night at the Southwark Playhouse, I’d like to think that most people would feel the same as I do about it and describe it as quite simply, outstanding.

It’s not exactly lost on us here that most people, when initially hearing about a two hour musical fable telling the myth and remarkable reality of one Mrs Phyllis Pearsall, who mapped the 23,000 streets of London, will respond with ‘’A play about maps? Really?” as we’re aware it may not be viewed as the most attention grabbing topic to base a theatrical show on. But, and this is the important bit, this is so much more than that. The mapping element although crucial to the story and the base around which the tale unfolds actually plays a somewhat lesser role within the plotline, making way for the most incredible story of a woman fighting against every obstacle thrown in her way to achieve her dreams.

Su Blackwell's show image

Su Blackwell’s fabulous show image

They say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family which for the most part is true, and my guess is that if accurately reported, this would never be more applicable than with the Mrs P and her parents. Her Hungarian father, the formidable Alexander Gross has been portrayed as being prone to bully, belittle and berate both Phyllis, her brother Tony and their mother Isabella on a continual basis, which is most likely to have contributed to the downward spiral of Isabella, resulting in alcohol addiction, mental health problems and sadly her death in the care of a psychiatric asylum when Phyllis was in her thirties.

Despite these issues being played out in all their glory throughout the show, the audience are not left feeling sorry for our Mrs P, absolutely rightly as well as that’s not what she would have wanted. No, instead we’re left feeling the full force of the courage and determination that this small, slightly built woman possessed and displayed throughout her entire life.

Mrs P and her A-Z

Mrs P and her A-Z

The musical score, composed by the incredibly talented Gwyneth Herbert is original, catchy and meaningful; it works beautifully with the words of Diane Samuels and leaves you humming away for days. My suggestion on this note would be to buy the cd of the cast recording otherwise you’ll drive yourself mad trying to remember all the street names listed in one of the songs – just a tip from someone it’s happening to!

The set is incredibly clever despite on first appearances being very simple – for the most part it comprises of two doors and a couple of chairs on the floor. Look up however, and it’s a different story. I won’t spoil it for you so that’s all I’m saying.

Isy Suttie, Diane Samuels, Frances Ruffelle

Isy Suttie, Diane Samuels, Frances Ruffelle

So finally, onto the cast. Isy Suttie, most recently of Peep Show fame, delivers the role of Mrs P with exactly the right blend of softness and gentility mixed with strength and determination – precisely and perfectly what we hoped she would do. Michael Matus is absolutely spell binding as her Father – he captures the audience from the very first ‘Hey Phyllis’, and doesn’t let you go until the final bow. Isabella Gross is wonderfully and tactfully played by the beautiful Frances Ruffelle, who shows the many complicated and confusing sides of the character with both sensitivity and truthfulness.

At A-Z we are all absolutely delighted at the outcome of what has been near enough five years hard work from initial idea conception through to performance. We know that this musical fable has been produced and performed with the utmost love and respect from all those involved and so to cast and company, we say to you, best foot forward, and on we go!

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An Exmoor walk with A-Z Adventure Atlas

If I introduce myself quite simply by explaining that in my sizeable shoe collection the majority of them have at least four inch heels, and the last time I voluntarily walked any great distance was circa 1990, you may begin to understand quite how appealing the thought of an Exmoor walk in mid-January to test the Adventure Atlas would have been to me.

However, dedication to the role prevailed and last week I found myself checking into the beautiful Brambleside B and B in the heart of Combe Martin, just outside of Ilfracombe, North Devon with walking boots, water proofs, rucksack and Adventure Atlas at the ready. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was quite obviously going to hate every second of the walk, even though my walking companion, seasoned pro Ellie Bennett assured me I might just surprise myself. Doubtful says I. So the morning arrives – cloudy and overcast but at least dry. This is a good sign I think to myself, excellent start to an Exmoor walk. Breakfast, dressed, head to the meeting point – heavens open. However, in the words of the great Phyllis Pearsall - on we go.

Wet start

Wet start for an Exmoor walk….

Off we went, up the hill to West Challacombe and then swam along (ok not swam but it was pretty wet by this point) to join the South West Coast Path (SWCP). Once we arrived under the peak of Little Hangman, after a while Ellie informed me that the area I was admiring below us was in fact the local nudist beach – moving swiftly on then…..

We started off up towards Great Hangman now, which at over 1000 feet is the highest point of the SWCP – the sudden drop in temperature highlighted this pretty clearly! Once at the peak it was windy, it was cold and I felt a million miles outside anything I could recognise as my comfort zone, but stopping and looking at the view and realising that actually, yes I can do this, all that seemed to melt away. Breath-taking scenery and a sense of achievement certainly work well together to spur you on let me tell you.

View from the top of Great Hangman

View from the top of Great Hangman

As if being given a little pat on the back, slowly but surely the weather improved and we were treated to a somewhat unexpected but gratefully received spell of sunshine. As we approached Sherrycombe, which genuinely appears so steep as if to venture down it will result in dropping off the edge of the planet, I was incredibly pleased it wasn’t raining – one false move and I reckoned that would be my lot! However once you get started heading down it’s nowhere near as bad as it seems and we successfully made it to the bottom and continued along Holdstone Down.

Now this is where the Adventure Atlas really came into its own. Due to the adverse weather Exmoor had been experiencing, the main routes one would normally travel when walking our journey were in a bit of a bad way so we had to be creative and find alternatives. These maps have every barn, every tiny unheard of lane, every footpath, every everything you could possibly need to find your way – they’re clear, easy to use and understand, and fill you with complete faith that they will indeed get you to where you need to go. The contour lines are accurate in their variations so you can estimate what to expect, the footpaths are clearly labelled and the tourist and leisure information is relevant and highly visible (excellent for planning rest breaks or pub stops!)

We continued along the permissive path across Trentishoe Down, through the woods and joined onto Ladies Mile. At this point I feel it important to highlight how absolutely essential good walking boots are. I was literally covered in mud from the knee down and had stepped in more deceptively deep puddles than I care to remember but were my feet hurting and wet? No, they absolutely were not. After doing some research, I bought the Salomon Womens Campside Manilla Mid GTX Boot from Cotswold Outdoors, and cannot recommend them highly enough. They were comfortable, supportive, completely waterproof, and excellent value for money. So a word from the novice – initial investment in decent boots will save you from a world of trouble. Advice session over.

Thoroughly recommended for an Exmoor walk

Best boots ever!

On the home straight now and we joined the long steep lane which took us back to Combe Martin high street. The Pack O’ Cards pub we were aiming for to treat ourselves to a congratulatory pint was at the opposite end to where we were but high streets aren’t that long are they so no great issue. WRONG! Combe Martin high street stretches to just over a mile and a half end to end but I figured since we’d already walked around eight miles another one wouldn’t hurt – and didn’t that pint taste good once we got there!

So one 9.27 mile walk completed. Not only have I discovered that I actually quite enjoy walking but I have a new found respect for these Adventure Atlases and how reassuringly accurate and user friendly they are for walkers and explorers of all ages and levels of experience. Question is, would I ever do something like this again? Having just agreed to go on a work outing later in the year to walk in Snowdon I guess the answer is yes!

The complete route finder

The complete route taken….

 

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Learning the Knowledge with A-Z

Learning the Knowledge is no easy task. When spending time in London it’s a familiar sight to be surrounded by black cabs busily transporting tourists, commuters and day trippers expertly around the city. Have you ever wondered though exactly what it takes to be a London cabbie? We trust them to know when we ask for our destination exactly how to get there and which route is quickest, but how do they get to this level of expertise? I met with James Baglin who is in the process of learning the trade to find out….

`It’s not easy doing the Knowledge! I’ve always known I wanted to be a London taxi driver; my Dad’s been doing it for 27 years so I’ve always had it around me as I was growing up. I’m 26 years old now and I’m hoping to pass by the time I’m 30 although it might take me longer as there’s so much to learn!

To start with you have to learn the 320 routes listed in the ‘Blue Books’, which are all within the six mile radius of Charing Cross Station in London, and then once you’ve managed that you have to sit a written exam and identify the shortest route between five sets of start and finish points which could incorporate any point in any route – and that’s just the first part! After that it’s a series of oral exams with just you and an examiner who themselves is a cab driver.

Knowledge Map
A-Z London Knowledge Atlas

It’s a daunting challenge when you first start but I’ve been using the London Knowledge Atlas to help me and it’s absolutely amazing. All the routes in the Blue Book we’re given are linked to the corresponding area within the Atlas so it makes it really clear to see where you need to go and how exactly to get there. I also have the laminated Premier London enlarged special edition up on the wall in my house for revising with – I can draw on it and map out which areas I want to cover and it’s a great visual aid to really get to grips on how best to tackle each section.

 

 

If I had to give any advice to anyone thinking of starting the Knowledge it would be just don’t give up. It’s a huge challenge but as long as you stick at it, keep going and work hard you’ll get there. You have to find a way of learning that suits you – there’s no set right or wrong way and no one method is better than another but I would definitely recommend going out and driving the routes you’re learning each time. I’m out on my moped at least four days a week, I’ve got A-Z signage stickers on it and people are always asking me where I got them from! The best thing is that the QR code on them takes you directly to the Knowledge page on the A-Z website so anyone who sees it can scan it and access all the products they need. I use the London A-Z Premier Map when I’m out on my bike, it’s so clear and easy to read so it really helps me learn the routes.

The next six months for me is carrying on and continuing to learn more routes and bigger sections; it’s frustrating and exhausting sometimes but I know as soon as I get the keys to my own black cab it will all have been worth it, and I’ll have my A-Z with me every step of the way!’

James’s Moped with A-Z stickering

 

 

 

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Family Pantomimes this Christmas – and how to find them!

Stuck with choosing where to go for a family pantomime this Christmas?

Generally most popular in the United Kingdom, the pantomime was partially developed back in the 16th century from the Italian ‘Commedia dell’arte’, and has continued to grow and evolve from then onwards into the much loved event it is now. Today, the majority of theatres in the UK, including some of the biggest and most popular playhouses in England, run family pantomimes over the festive season which can make it incredibly difficult in choosing which one to see! So, to help you make your choices, here is our guide to some of the top shows being offered throughout Christmas 2013……

The Old Vic Theatre, Bristol

Following a recent £12 million redevelopment, the Bristol Old Vic is now one of the most modern theatres in the United Kingdom, boasting a hugely impressive stage just perfect for the journey through this underwater adventure…….

The Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid – Old Vic Theatre, Bristol

 

If you’re looking for a family show thats slightly different from the tradional panto, The Little Mermaid follows Hans Christian Anderson’s wonderful tale of a young mermaid forced to fight the evil sea witch to save her world and capture the heart of her handsome prince. A fabulous show filled with oceans of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy!

For performance dates, times and ticket prices click here. While you’re in Bristol, why not take in the surroundings and visit some of the fantastic attractions the city has to offer – Bristol Zoo Gardens, Museum and Art Gallery or The Hands On Science Centre to name a few; click here for the only guide you’ll need to find your way around Bristol this winter!

The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

The Belgrade Theatre, built in 1958 following the destruction of the city of Coventry by World War 2, is today exceptionally proud to be one of the largest regional producing theatres in Britain. This year the Belgrade are hosting not one but two festive shows, one for families and one for adults only…

Jack And The Beanstalk

Iain Lauchlan as Dame Trott – Jack and The Beanstalk

For a fantastic family treat, Jack and the Beanstalk is full of all things magically pantomime and follows our much loved hero Jack, his mother Dame Trott, their cow, some beans, and a very large beanstalk! Written and directed by theatre and panto legend Iain Lauchlan, this is a must see this Christmas. Click here for further performance dates and times and ticket prices.

Oh No It Isn’t!

Adults Only – Oh No It Isn’t!

For an adults only night out, Oh No It Isn’t is the Belgrade Theatre’s hilarious fast paced murder mystery thriller perfect for getting you into the festive spirit. The show lasts just over an hour so once you’ve laughed your way through the performance there will still be time for a glass or two of mulled wine in the nearby bars and restaurants afterwards. You can find more information on performance dates and ticket availability by clicking here. To fully appreciate the beauty of the city of Coventry, take yourself off shopping, sightseeing, or just relaxing and watching the world go by. Our Coventry Street Atlas will make it easy as mince pie to find your way round….

The Brighton Dome, Brighton

Petit Mal Concrete Circus

The Brighton Dome began it’s time as the Prince Regents stables and riding house and has now developed to become ‘The South coast’s premier multi arts venue’, producing in excess of 600 events every year.

Petit Mal – Concrete Circus

This year, veering slightly away from the traditional pantomime theme but remaining jaw droppingly entertaining, the Brighton Dome is proud to present ‘Petit Mal – Concrete Circus’. This show takes you into an electric world where circus and acrobatics meet break dancing and hip hop in a spectacular display which saw this production awarded ‘Best Performance at the International Theatre and Street Arts Festival’ in Valladolid, TAC, 2013.

Click here to view performance dates and times and book your tickets. The city of Brighton and Hove is one of the UKs most vibrant and exciting places to be so don’t waste a minute whilst you’re there! Click here for your guide to help you make the most of your visit.

Now for the grand finale………….

Hopefully the information above has given you food for thought on which pantomime to go and see this year, so how about we give you the tickets to do so! The amazing teams at the Old Vic, Belgrade, and Brighton Dome have donated some tickets for the above performances especially for you, and all you have to do to win is answer the following question…….

‘How many different titles are there in the A-Z Adventure Atlas series?’

To submit your answer, click here – good luck!

Please ensure you include your name, contact details and preferred event when you enter.

NB. Competition closes midday 27th November. Ticket options available are:

Bristol Old Vic – Little Mermaid – Sat 7th Dec, 2pm, 1 x family ticket (2 adults 2 children)

Coventry Belgrade – Jack and the Beanstalk – Weds 18th Dec, 7pm, 1 x family ticket (2 adults 2 children)

Coventry Belgrade – Oh No It Isnt – Weds 11th Dec, 8pm, 2 x adult tickets

Brighton, Brighton Dome – Petit Mal, Thurs 17th Dec, 7.30pm, 2 x adult tickets

Dates are non negotiable, tickets are non exchangeable or refundable. Winners will be notified by email.

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Your Guide to a Norfolk Coast Road Trip

Norfolk, or ‘Big Sky Country’ as it is affectionately known, is the perfect destination at this time of year for an autumn/winter road trip. With beautiful countryside views and seaside towns to enjoy throughout the day and fabulous country pubs and restaurants to indulge and relax in at night, our guide to the Norfolk Coast Road will help you plan a visit to remember.

Our road trip is based in East Anglia, known for being one of the driest and sunniest places in the UK – and one of the flattest too. This UK road trip idea takes you round the Norfolk coast from Great Yarmouth to Hunstanton, following the A149 the whole way. Before setting off from Great Yarmouth, why not take a stroll on Britannia pier, which dates back to 1858, and try your hand at some of the amusements on offer.

Head north from the bright lights of Great Yarmouth on the A149 towards the wetland landscape of The Broads. Take our Broads Adventure Atlas if you plan to stop and explore – or take to the water. The road eventually rejoins the coast at the more relaxed seaside resort of Cromer. The town is arguably most famous for its iconic crabs, so what better way to spend your time than in The Jetty Café which many locals say offers the best crab salad for miles around. Once you’ve sampled the delights of Cromer, get back onto the A149 and head west along the coast. Our next suggested road trip stop is Cley next the Sea, a village that is well-known for its pottery. A visit to the Made in Cley Gallery is definitely not to be missed, it’s one-off pieces of pottery are truly unique.

Experience for yourself these beautiful views along the Norfolk Coast line…

If the wildlife of Blakeney and the charms of Wells-next-the-Sea don’t detain you, the next stop on this road trip could be Holkham beach. This is a wonderful spot to stretch your legs and take in the beauty of the North Norfolk coast, with the beach stretching for 4 miles. An alternative beach stop is Brancaster, where the beach car park is a little more accessible, and there are more amenities on offer. The west-facing resort of Hunstanton is the perfect place to end this road trip, especially near the end of the day when you might get one of the magnificent sunsets.

Helpful maps for your road trip could be the East Anglia A-Z Road Map (for planning), the East Anglia Regional Road Atlas, or the Norfolk A-Z County Atlas  which provides both road mapping and street mapping of the various stop-offs along the way.

If you’re headed towards Norfolk or just off on a road trip of your own, send us in a picture of you on your travels with your A-Z guide and we’ll send you a discount code to be redeemed on your next purchase.

Happy travelling!

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Name the Parks on the Map

This gallery contains 5 photos.

How well do you know those famous British parks? Test yourself with another of our little map-based quizzes. Or share it with any geography know-it-all’s who would enjoy the challenge. This time we’ve removed the names of five famous parks. … Continue reading

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UK Road Trip Ideas – Bristol to Rhossili Bay

The autumn and winter is an excellent time to explore the natural beauty of the UK. Car travel comes into its own, allowing you to see the sights but then hop back into a dry and cosy vehicle. We have devised an itinerary that takes in many different aspects of our charming country, from fine cities to spectacular landscapes. Our UK road trip idea starts at Bristol, one of England’s eight core cities, and ends at Rhossili Bay, voted the 10th best beach in the world on TripAdvisor. The 100 mile route can be driven in just a few hours, but would be better suited to a multi-day trip so that you can enjoy the wealth of attractions on route. The route can be easily covered using public transport or by bike.

Bristol and the Severn Bridge

If you are looking for simple UK road trip ideas, try this short and straightforward run along the M4 through South Wales.  But before starting your journey and jumping onto the motorway, why not take a step back in time with Bristol Museum’s exhibition of the Roman Empire? The Roman Empire Power & People is a unique touring exhibition which brings together captivating objects from a variety of British museums, all displayed in one exhibit which has never been done before.

After leaving the Roman Empire, join the M4 towards South Wales, taking care to avoid the rush hour traffic. The M4 motorway spans the Severn estuary on the Second Severn Crossing, or you can detour onto the M48 across the original Severn Bridge. The latter is a classic suspension bridge that took five years to construct and has been Grade I listed since 26th of November 1999.

Cardiff and the Brecon Beacons

The M4 skirts Cardiff on your left, with Caerphilly and its castle just a few miles away over the hills on your right. The Welsh capital and the surrounding area are rich in sights, so come off the motorway and spend some time here if you can.

For a much more adventurous detour, climb up through the Taff valley past Merthyr Tydfil to the mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Enjoy the great outdoors with the help of our Brecon Beacons map books, East and West. The A465 or A4067 roads carry you back down to the coast, rejoining the route at Swansea.

However, if you only have time for a quick pit stop near Cardiff then one option is to come off at junction 34, and just beyond Hensol you will reach Llanerch Vineyard. Llanerch is a working vineyard and is a great spot to enjoy the Glamorganshire countryside. If it is not raining then it is well worth grabbing a table outside, so you can admire the beautiful vineyards as you enjoy your meal.

The 10th Best Beach in the World – Rhossili Bay

Swansea and Gower

Hop back on the M4 west along one of the more scenic stretches of UK motorway. Turn off at the hilly city of Swansea, which is enjoying international attention due to the success of its football team. Follow the bay round to the small seaside resort of The Mumbles. Star-spotters might fancy a visit to the Hancock pub where Catherine Zeta-Jones is known to have a drink when visiting the area.

It is back in the car once more for our final leg of this road trip along the Gower peninsula. Take the A4118 and then the B4247 to Rhossili, which should take around 30 minutes. On arrival, use the designated car park which is situated 400m from the beach. The walk from here to Rhossili is picturesque and provides some stunning views.

Our Wales A-Z Road Map is an ideal tool for planning your road trip ideas in Wales and the Welsh borders.

Leave us a comment with your own recommendations and UK road trip ideas.

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Cotswold Way – Bath to Chipping Campden

The Cotswold Way National Trail starts in the world-famous city of Bath and meanders through the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, eventually arriving in the handsome market town of Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. The 102 mile route heads north and then north east from Bath, tracking the scarp slope of the Cotswold Edge and offering fine views west across the Severn Valley below. The path visits a number of small towns and villages, often built in the typical honey-coloured Cotswold stone. It also passes many sites of historic interest such as the Neolithic burial chamber at Belas Knap. In this blog post, we give you an insight into what you’ll see on the Cotswold Way from Bath to Chipping Campden.

The entirety of the Cotswold Way can be walked in 7 days. However, to fully appreciate and enjoy the areas of interest on the route, we recommend taking a few more days to allow a more leisurely walking experience. When setting off on the Cotswold Way from Bath, you will have the odd experience of turning your back on a World Heritage Site! Newcomers to Bath should leave time to take in highlights like the Roman Baths and the outstanding Georgian architecture, before starting the walk.

Cotswold Way

Once you get walking, one of the first sizeable settlements you’ll come across is Wotton-Under-Edge, a market town with a rich historical background. One of the best known historical features is a set of trees planted on Wotton Hill, overlooking the town. These trees were planted in the 19th Century to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The hilltop site had already hosted a warning beacon when the Spanish Armada approached in 1588.

Further north, another notable location along the route is the village of Painswick. Like many Cotswold settlements, Painswick built its growth upon the wool trade, but now is known for its parish church’s yew trees, a rococo style garden and its involvement in the English Civil War, during which Royalist troops camped out after the siege of Gloucester.

About 2 miles on from Painswick is the famous Cooper’s Hill. Every year hordes of people gather to watch the annual cheese rolling competition, an odd tradition, but a phenomenon that has reached even the far corners of the world. A round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the precipitous hill and competitors race down after it. In 2013, 27 year old American Kenny Rackers won the event after travelling 4000 miles just to compete.

The route passes above the twin towns of Gloucester and Cheltenham, and on to Winchcombe.  Sitting on six long-distance footpaths, Winchcombe is a small town of around 4,500 people and is understandably popular amongst walkers. Just north of the town lies the remains of Hailes Abbey, in which monks were said to possess a phial containing the Blood of Jesus.

Broadway is the final large village, overlooked by the impressive folly of Broadway Tower. The path presents you with more commanding views across the Vale of Evesham, before you finally drop down into Chipping Campden for a well-deserved rest!

The Cotswold Way is perfect for the avid walker wishing to experience some of the best countryside southern England has to offer. Make sure you head over to our online store and pick up the Cotswold Way Adventure Atlas so you can plan your route.

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Three of the best walks near London

London is a fantastic place to go walking. There’s so much to explore, and for a densely urban area it does have a good amount of green space. However, sometimes the hustle and bustle of the city can become overwhelming, and escaping the city can be a more attractive prospect. Luckily, London is surrounded by some lovely countryside, from the varied Surrey Hills to the rolling landscape along the South Downs Way. We’ve compiled three of the best walks near London, to help get you out of the city and into the great outdoors. Each route connects to regular trains from central London, and can be followed using an Adventure Atlas map book.

Surrey Hills – Wanborough to Godalming

Distance: 7.5 Miles

From London Waterloo you can get to Wanborough by train in under an hour. The route will take you past the incredible Wanborough Manor and up over the oddly straight ridge of the Hog’s Back. Join the North Downs Way until you reach the amazing Watts Gallery and Chapel, once home to Victorian painter and sculptor Frederick Watts. Eventually, the route arrives at the historic market town of Godalming where you can get a direct train back to Waterloo every half an hour.

Surrey Hills map book

Route map for Wanborough to Godalming in the Surrey Hills

Thames Path – Windsor to Bourne End

Distance: 12 Miles

Windsor is easily accessible by train from either Paddington or Waterloo station. On arrival, the Thames Path takes you away from the castle and across the river out of Windsor. After 2 miles you’ll reach the prestigious Eton Dorney, a £17M purpose-built rowing lake that is privately owned by Eton College. The walk continues past islands, weirs and marinas, and into the outskirts of Maidenhead. Follow the river north through some of the finest countryside the Thames Path has to offer, before eventually arriving at Bourne End station. A branch line connects back to Maidenhead for the return journey to London, where you can reflect on one of the best walks near London.

Thames Path map book

Walking route map from Windsor to Bourne End on the Thames Path

South Downs Way – Choose your route around Amberley

Distance: 5 – 15 Miles

Amberley nestles below the South Downs, near a gap where the River Arun carves its way through the chalk hills. Amberley station is a one and a half hour ride from Victoria, with trains running hourly.

The map below shows various options for circular routes from Amberley station, giving a range of walks that vary from around 5 miles to a challenging 15 miles plus.  The sections of the South Downs Way east and west of Amberley station both head up into classic downland, although the western loop is more wooded and the views aren’t quite as extensive. The paths along the River Arun offer a different terrain. Look out for the suspension bridge on the footpath between North Stoke and South Stoke, which was recently repaired by the Ghurkas. Be aware that the riverside paths can be covered by flood waters, so avoid these after lots of wet weather.

South Downs Way map book

Walking route map around Amberley station on the South Downs Way

Please comment with your suggestions for the best walks near London.

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Are the A-Z London smartphone apps really £s better than free maps?

The smartphone revolution has put a potentially vast set of free maps into our pockets. With access only restricted by download times and data limits, why pay for other maps? A-Z’s London apps do offer highest quality A-Z mapping and fast offline access, but is that worth paying a few pounds? For this week’s blog, we’ve looked at the pros and cons, and at the customer reviews for our apps. Our conclusion: many Londoners want their A-Z too!

The standard map apps

The main brands of smartphone come with their own free mapping and location apps, most commonly powered by Google, Microsoft (Bing), Nokia (Here), and most recently Apple. The apps provide a global mapping database that covers the full range of scales from a world map down to the neighbourhood level.  They provide location searches and multiple mapping layers, such as road mapping and aerial photography. Higher functionality can include turn-by-turn routing and public transport info. The accuracy of the mapping and the app functionality varies between the apps mentioned above, and within each app it commonly varies by country.

Comparison of A-Z map and iOS map

Comparison of A-Z app and iOS

A-Z London apps

We provide several A-Z smartphone apps that use our famous London mapping. The apps are very good value compared to our printed atlases. The Greater London app gives you our entire London map base for around £5, and an even cheaper Mini London A-Z is also available for some devices. The London Visitors’ app shows Central London mapping that is designed to help tourists get around and see the sights, and costs around £1.50. Apps are available for Android, iOS, and Windows 7

The A-Z apps take advantage of many of the great smartphone functions that the free apps use. They allow GPS location tracking, and more complex functionality like measuring distances and saving your own places and routes. Pinching and zooming is supported, with several levels of mapping provided to give you very clear mapping at each zoom level. London’s places and points of interest are fully searchable using the information we’ve painstakingly compiled over many decades, with 100,000 streets and 240,000 postcodes to be found in the Greater London app. Unlike most smartphone maps, the A-Z apps also offer full offline access.

London Visitors' map for Android

London Visitors’ map with hand-drawn area

What is best for…?

The standard mobile map apps provide a global coverage, and offer a greater selection of mapping layers, including aerial imagery to check for features that maps don’t show. These apps can also offer some great advanced functions like turn-by-turn routing. Use your mobile maps or Transport for London Journey Planner if you want simple A to B directions, rather than a clear A to Z overview of the world around you.

The A-Z apps don’t compete with these services, but they do offer some real advantages for use in London. One standout feature is app performance. Offline access means that there is no need to stand around and wait for a signal, and no roaming data charges to pay. You can even use your A-Z maps on the tube. The second big advantage is the mapping quality. A-Z mapping is renowned for being easy to use, up to date and accurate. It wouldn’t be fair to expect a free global map service to match this.

A-Z London app for Windows Phone

So what are people saying about the A-Z apps? We’re delighted with how well the apps have been received, with reviewers complementing the quality and value for money. Just take a look on the app store for your mobile device.

Reviews from iTunes – Greater London A-Z – March 2013:

“A great map, a little bit more memory taken then the average app, but it gives me a most intuitive look at what makes up GReater London then other maps can provide.”

“Great app really pleased with the amount you get for your money!.”

“I never go to London without my trusty A-Z but I can now leave that behind. It’s great to have the real A-Z on my mobile and to have all the mod cons like being able to draw my own routes and track myself. Recommended.”

Reviews taken from Windows Phone Store – A-Z London ver. 1.0 – March 2013:

“Quickly became my favourite maps app – I use it more than Google Maps and Bing Maps. Works fine with Nokia Lumia 800 (HTC Trophy did not get on so well).”

“Magnificent! The map I’ve been using all my life, now in crystal clear form on my phone. Being able to rotate the map to any angle is a total winner. I’ve now retired my battered and beloved paper A-Z as a result.”

“Outrageous for deliveries get it!!!”

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Posted in A-Z Product Information, Android Apps, AZ Visitors' Maps, iOS Apps, London Maps, Mobile Apps, Street Mapping Apps, Street Maps, The Knowledge Maps, Visiting London, Windows Apps | Tagged , , | Comments Off