10 brilliant ways to make the most of the May bank holiday weekend

The May bank holiday weekend is just around the corner (Saturday 28th – Monday 30th May) and the choice of family activities to keep the kids entertained has never been greater. Plan your time off with A-Z’s round-up of some of the best family friendly outdoor events, walks and days out on a budget taking place all over the UK. Let’s just hope the sun makes an appearance!

Transport for London’s “Spring into Summer” free guided walks, celebrating national walking month. (Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd May 2016)

There are 45 free guided walks across the Capital which are organized by “Walk London” and TfL, which explore London’s hidden gems, parks, famous landmarks and canals. There is something to suit all ages and abilities. Many of the walks are family friendly with Animal I-Spy in the City, a gentle stroll searching for dragons, lions and unicorns and Goodnight Mister Tom, inspired by the much loved book, particularly popular with children.


Free guided walks in London

The walks have been running since 2007 and their popularity has grown significantly since. To cope with the large increase in demand, there is a new online booking system for “Spring into Summer” walks. It is a quick and simple process to book a free place on the walk London website. Their website is also full of information regarding times, routes, distances.

National Parks (Located across the UK)

There are 15 national parks in the UK, but the number of places to visit and things to do within them is limitless. The 15 parks are located all over the UK so there is something for all ages and abilities and can make a fantastic adventure for all the family over the May bank holiday weekend!

Lake District

Lake District

Don’t forget to take a map with you and make sure you take advantage of our 35% discount on Ordnance Survey Explorer and Landranger maps!

You can also find plenty of ideas in the National Parks “Top 15” list!

Eden Project, South West

The Eden Project in Cornwall makes for a great day out for the whole family. Explore the largest indoor rainforest in the world and enjoy special events over the May bank holiday weekend.

Get involved with activities such as:

  • Making a marble run
  • Enter the Subbuteo championship
  • Try your hand at coding
  • Help their storytellers build a story with the roll of a dice
  • Play a super-sized team version of the classic naval game, Battleships
Eden Project

Eden Project

Create your own May bank holiday weekend adventure with an A-Z Adventure Atlas!

The A-Z Adventure series is an innovative concept that utilises Ordnance Survey Explorer mapping in a book, therefore eliminating the need to fold and re-fold a large sheet map to the desired area. OS Explorer is Ordnance Survey’s detailed mapping at a scale of 1:25,000, showing public rights of way, open access land, national parks, tourist information, car parks, public houses and camping and caravan sites.

 Adventure Atlas

Go exploring with an Adventure Atlas

We have adventure atlases for many beautiful scenic locations all over the UK.

Buy your Adventure Atlas now from www.az.co.uk and take advantage of 20% off using voucher code MAY25 until the end of May!

Port Lympne Animal Reserve, Kent

Guinea Baboon, Port Lympne Animal Reserve

Port Lympne Reserve is located in the South East of England in Kent. Home to the UK’s original and authentic African experience safari, Port Lympne offers a unique family adventure, set in over 600 acres.

Tickets from £21; however, they do often have deals on tickets such as 10% off single entry tickets and family tickets priced at £82. It is an unforgettable experience for all the family. For more information, visit their website.

BeWILDerwood, Norfolk



BeWILDerwood is a wild and imaginative adventure park with treehouses, zip wires, jungle bridges, boat trips, marsh walks and much more. Perfect for the May bank holiday weekend!

BeWILDerwood is based on a fantastical tale by local children’s author, Tom Blofeld. Parents are encouraged to play alongside their children, which makes a brilliant and exciting day for all the family!

Purchase tickets online from £10.50

York Ghost Walk 

Ghost Walk, York Minster

Ghost Walk, York Minster

Something a bit different, the Original Ghost Walk of York offers a night of history and mystery to capture your imagination.

“The Walk was established before 1973 and was an original creation believed to be the first in the world. The Walk aims to be accurate, authentic and genuine, exploring a world of folklore, legend and dreams. We do not need to stage manage tricks or gimmicks but remain above all a fun night out.”

Purchase tickets from The Original Ghost Walk of York website: £5.00 Adults, £3.00 Children

Yorkshire Trails

Meet the Studfold trails characters

Meet the Studfold trails characters

This North Yorkshire adventure is aimed at pre-school and primary school aged children.
“Rabbit, Mole and Owl will take you on an adventure, teaching you about the wildlife, while you search for clues and hidden treasure”
£4 Adult, £3 Child

Visit the Studfold trails website for more information regarding times, dates and different events.

Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport

Amongst the objects on display are everything from skateboards to locomotives, paintings to prams, velocipedes to voiturettes, vintage cars to a stormtrooper, there really is something to delight visitors of all ages.​ Visit the Museum’s website for more information. Free entry.

Scotland's Museum of Transport and Travel

Vintage Glasgow tram – Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel, Glasgow, Scotland


Welsh Open Stone skimming Championships at Llanwrtyd Wells (29th May 2016)

Almost everyone has skimmed a stone at some stage of their life. The British and European version “Stoneskimming” is concerned with the distance achieved.

Stone skimming ripples

Stone skimming ripples

You can enter yourself for the event for only £5.00 if you fancy having a go, or it is free to spectate, visit the Green Events website for more details.

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Bournemouth Marathon 2016 progress update 1

Bournemouth Marathon 2016 progress update

A few months after committing to run a marathon, the stark reality of the challenge is starting to dawn on the A-Z team – this is going to hurt! The initial optimism (mainly Kieran’s) and bravado is starting to wear off as people’s thoughts turn towards training and the distinction between perceived fitness and actual fitness hits home. The dedication of the team during this first few months has varied.


Caroline's trainersTeam Captain Caroline’s immediate response was to go shopping and buy herself some new shoes – running shoes. Taking her leadership role very seriously, she went to a specialist running shop to have her gait analysed by professionals to determine the most appropriate footwear, very sensibly extolling the virtues of this important preparation to anyone within earshot. She returned from this analysis to happily announce that she is flat footed, not metaphorically but fully fledged flat footed, much to the surprise of the staff in the shop who seldom encounter customers like her. Armed with this new found knowledge, she has been reportedly (by her) regularly swimming to build up a base level of fitness as she does not want to peak too soon.


Steve - Bournemouth 10 mileSteve has been predictably taking the whole thing far too seriously, has entered a couple of races and the odd niggle aside, was fairly smug about his progress. Until he decided to buy a Garmin running watch to analyse every conceivable statistic. Unfortunately, Steve’s technological skills remain firmly in the luddite age. The multiple options and buttons have meant that he has been unable to gleam anything useful from this new investment. Unfortunately the company’s IT team have been unable to assist, applying the computer policy rules Steve wrote about not working on personal devices in work time. It seems more likely that he will have completed the marathon in October before he works out how to use the Garmin properly.


KieranKieran’s positive attitude and relaxed demeanour remains unchanged and he is still remarkably busy as he was keen to emphasise. However, Team Captain Caroline has a concern after Kieran decided to embark on his first run of the year, a 7 km circuit during his one hour lunch break. An outraged Team Captain duly noted that he was late back from lunch and was bright red faced for the rest of the afternoon. Considering the appropriate course of action, she has decided that it indicates something about his running speed or elaborate shower and beauty regime, or maybe both. Worryingly, he has also discovered that he has a dodgy knee and fears future training may be restricted to donning a mask and cape and re-enacting fairy tales with his four year old daughter.


Phil in SydneyPhil’s response to entering the marathon has been quite extraordinary. He considered and swiftly dismissed dry January. He then left the office one Friday afternoon, furtively talking to a couple of colleagues just before leaving, only to emerge via Facebook in Sydney Australia. The general sense of surprise and best wishes was replaced by bewilderment when he was happily back at his desk one week later. To this day his motives remain unclear, to launch Sydney as a short break destination or to get some specialist coaching from some Aussie sports guru. Team Captain Caroline suspects that it was nothing other than an opportunity to enjoy some cheap Aussie beer in the sun but surely this youngster has some secret master plan to achieve elite status.

Help and advice

If you have any advice or suggestions for the team, please let us know. The team members are also (reluctantly) considering entering some races over the summer in the South East area so please get in touch if you have any suggestions.


Lastly, please don’t forget that we’re fundraising for 3 very worthy causes so please help if you can and sponsor us to help us reach our target.

Bournemouth Marathon 2016 fundraising - Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Visit our team page to support our charities

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Bournemouth Marathon 2016 fundraising

Bournemouth Marathon 2016 fundraising

While the A-Z team are running the Bournemouth Marathon to challenge ourselves and to get fit, we are also choosing to support 3 very worthy charities where the money raised actually helps to save and improve the quality of lives. Geographers’ A-Z Map Company Ltd have had close links to London’s Air Ambulance for several years while 2 of the team have chosen to support a charity that they personally have cause to be grateful for. Phil Stephenson has chosen to support Joiningjack.org while Kieran has close links to Chartwell Cancer Trust. Below is a small introduction about these charities.

London Air Ambulance

London Air Ambulance logoA-Z has been synonymous with London for many years and one of the standout organisations to be involved with is London’s Air Ambulance. The service operates 24/7 in London with the team including an advanced trauma doctor and paramedic often attending serious traffic incidents, falls, industrial accidents and assaults and injuries on the rail network.  The charity provides pre-hospital care at the scene of the incident and serves the 10 million people that live, work and travel within the M25.  By delivering highly professional medical treatment to critically injured patients, the rapid response of London’s Air Ambulance helps to save lives and improve the outcome for those in need. A-Z feels honoured to be associated with a charity who provides a vital lifeline to the people of London.

Joining Jack

Joining Jack logoPhil says: “I’m not only running the marathon to achieve a life goal and improve my fitness but to also raise awareness and much needed cash for Joiningjack.org. Joining Jack is a charity working hard to raise money to help find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which sadly, two of my cousins suffer with. It’s a devastating and currently incurable muscle-wasting disease that usually appears in male children. Progressive muscle weakness starts at the legs and eventually spreads to the arms, neck and other areas leading to complete paralysis. The support needed for families dealing with this horrible disease is massive, therefore any sponsorship you can give to help find a cure will be greatly appreciated.”

Chartwell Cancer Trust

The Chartwell Cancer Trust logoKieran says: “My dad Stuart was first diagnosed with Throat Cancer in October 2014 and soon needed the additional help and support that The Chartwell Cancer Trust could provide. He very quickly needed some extended stays in hospital which included a period over Christmas but everyone there always made him feel very comfortable. He was given plenty of privacy when he needed it and the staff were always very friendly and welcoming to family and friends. I’m very happy to be supporting a charity that helps people live with a disease that most likely affects at least one person in all of our lives. In fact, a quick glance down their legacies and donations page shows just how many people are affected by this disease and also how many patients and families are supported by organisations such as The Chartwell Trust.”

Thank You

We are hoping to raise as much money as possible to support these worthwhile charities. We have initially set a target of £1,000 with the money being shared equally between the three causes. We would be very grateful if you would sponsor us through our Virgin Money Giving page by clicking on the link below. No matter how much you donate, whether it be little or large, your donation will have a massive impact on the people who rely on these charities.

Bournemouth Marathon 2016 fundraising - Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Visit our team page to support our charities

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Bournemouth Marathon 2016 – The A-Z Challenge

The Office Christmas Party can often produce a few surprises and things people feel they may regret in the morning and the A-Z 2015 one was no exception. Some way down her second bottle of Pinot, Caroline Ball, our Human Resources and Christmas party organiser, decided she wanted to run a marathon next year and set about persuading anyone within earshot to join her. In the cold light of day, some of the team couldn’t remember agreeing to sign up while others conjured up some convenient long standing injury to get out of it. However, we now have a team of four who are determined to challenge themselves, get fitter than ever before and to raise some money for three very deserving charities while planning on enjoying(!) the whole experience. On 2nd October, the following team members will tackle the Bournemouth Marathon 2016;

Steve Egleton

Steve Egleton before training for the Bournemouth Marathon 2016Steve, Joint Managing Director of A-Z, is comfortably the oldest member of the team and will be in the over 45 category come race day. He is viewed with a good deal of suspicion after saying that he actually ‘quite likes’ training and he has been heard talking about triathlons (although very seldom seen actually doing one). This sort of behaviour would normally disqualify him from the A-Z team but he did agree to fund some kit so an exception has been made. Steve will probably take the whole thing far too seriously and will no doubt be found scowling and chuntering in a corner because the numbers he is looking at do not tell him what he wants them to. Indeed, some might argue that this has been his common demeanour since the internet became widely available.

Caroline Ball

Caroline Ball before training for the Bournemouth Marathon 2016

Photo taken at the AZ Christmas party. Caroline is the one with the drink in her hand!

Caroline is the driving force behind this adventure but she too has a secret; she has done two marathons before. However, this should not be held against her as Caroline likes to get full value for money for her entry fee when doing a marathon and spends the maximum amount of time on the course to savour every moment, crossing the finish line long after most other entrants have showered, gone home and eaten their dinner. This year, aiming to run the whole distance, Caroline could comfortably do her best time ever. Caroline’s drive, enthusiasm and sunny disposition mean she has assumed the role of team captain, promising to make the whole experience memorable for all involved; one way or another there is no doubt she will succeed in this!

Kieran Bartlett

Kieran BartlettKieran is a sales manager and is relentlessly cheerful and optimistic. You probably already recognise Kieran because of his love of cameras or rather being in front of them. Not only did he star in a fascinating episode of ‘The Map Man’ but he also performed in front of millions at the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, banging a drum while dressed as a Victorian peasant. Despite having a demanding job, two children under 5 and a wide range of outside interests, he gleefully accepted Caroline’s challenge with a joyful smile. When pressed about when he would find time to train, his response was a cheery grin and some comment to the effect it can’t be that hard. This optimism may well be severely tested in October on the south coast and there is speculation that a Bartlett grimace may be witnessed.

Phil Stephenson

Phil Stephenson before training for the Bournemouth Marathon 2016Phil, from our Digital team, is the youngest member of the team from whom great things are expected. Simply by not having to juggle the demands of children and creaking joints, he has many innate advantages over the other member of the team. Mitigating factors which mean he may not challenge the elite Kenyan runners include the fact that it is hard to find a photograph of him that does not feature alcohol somewhere nearby and his previous lack of obvious prowess or interest in long distance running. However, Phil has one advantage, has already worked out his training plan as he proposes to run home from the pub.

Raising money whilst running the Bournemouth Marathon 2016

The team are supporting three very deserving charities, the London Air Ambulance, The Chartwell Trust and Joining Jack. We at A-Z have worked with London Air Ambulance for some years and are proud to support a charity that saves lives and provides such important emergency care in our capital. Sadly many of us have lost loved ones to cancer and Kieran’s father passed away after fighting this disease late last year. He and his family were so grateful for the fantastic care and support provided by The Chartwell Trust during this difficult time and would like to raise money so that they can continue to help others. Two of Phil’s cousins suffer with DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), which is a condition that causes muscle degeneration from a young age. Phil wants to raise money for Joining Jack to improve treatments and help find a cure for all those living with this horrible disease.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Visit our team page to support our charities

We’d be really grateful if you’re able to support our charities too by making a donation on our team page. All donations will be split evenly between our chosen charities. We’re hoping to raise £1,000 before we take on the Bournemouth Marathon in October 2016.

Help our team with training plans

The A-Z running team do intend to take this Bournemouth Marathon 2016 challenge seriously and will be posting regular updates as the year progresses. The plan is to improve general health and fitness at the start of the year, progressing to run specific training leading up to the race.

As this is going to be a huge challenge for some of us, we need your help and advice! Have you got any proven training methods or exercises that have helped you build up to running a marathon? How long did it take you to increase training runs to long distances? Any support and advice would be greatly appreciated, and possibly ignored if it sounds too painful. Please leave your tips and suggestions for our team in the comments below.

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The A-Z Maps Three Peaks Challenge – Part 2

With the largest of the Three Peaks done, things should be easy now….right?

Day Three – Scafell Pike, the second of the three peaks

Starting height: 120 metres above sea level
Car park grid reference: NY235122
A-Z Map reference: 5C 14 (1D 61)
Start time: 6:20am

Group photo Scafell Pike on our three peaks challengeDay 3 started like a typical Lakeland day; wet and misty to start with the prospect of a little sunshine later in the day. We parked our cars at Seathwaite Farm, officially the wettest place in England. Armed with our Adventure atlases and weatherproof map cases we head south through the farm and up to Stockley bridge.

Grains Gill Scafell Pike on our three peaks challengeWe’d already decided to take the Grains Gill route up to the Scafell massif instead of the more popular path alongside Lingmell Gill which most three peakers use due to its speed. The views are not as good, not that it mattered today though. The mist breaks occasionally just to give fleeting views behind us of the Borrowdale valley, Derwent Water and Keswick, up ahead is the imposing Great End.

Scafell PikeOur path takes us to the foot of this massive slab of rock and to a T-junction. Turn right and you’re led to Sprinkling Tarn and beyond that Great Gable. We go left and we’re quickly up to Esk Hause, a crossing point of two footpaths marked by a huge cairn, it’s clear to see where we go. We take a sharp right which heads up onto the Scafell massif itself and as we climb higher into the clouds visibility gets worse. This, coupled with the lack of any real footpath make navigation with map and compass much more important. Yes there are cairns to guide you, but these are easily missed in these conditions. After about a kilometre of messing around in the mist and plenty of boulder hopping on the moonscape type terrain the ground quickly falls away on all sides, this is not the summit however.

Scafell Pike last ascentDepressingly, the real summit is a short sharp drop followed by a climb back up which borders on a grade 1 scramble. After a puff of the cheeks and a few more boulders to hop across, the summit cairn can finally be seen.

Team photo Scafell PikeWe hit the windy, misty top at 9:15am, just in time for Hayley to go off to try and find the local conveniences, but there’s no gift shop and toilets on this mountain! It’s been two and a quarter hours since leaving soggy Seathwaite and up until now we’ve had the mountain to ourselves but now a steady trail of damp walkers joins us at the summit. All have come from Wast Water via the Lingmell Gill route and most are doing the 24 hour challenge, they don’t stay for long.

Scafell Pike isn’t a ‘pretty’ mountain top, especially in these conditions; it’s too cold and windy to stay for long. After a quick sausage roll and a battered banana it’s time to head down the same route as we’d come up. There was a short discussion about heading down the Corridor route but past revelations about the ‘tricky step’ persuaded us all to head back along the same path. We head back down and back up the scramble and back across the boulder field which is now slightly more visible. Kieran’s like a Tigger in Waterproofs as he bounces from one boulder to another shouting ‘That’s another Wainwright bagged!’

Group photo Eskdale ValleyAs we get back to Esk Hause the sun finally comes out revealing the Eskdale Valley in all its beauty. Mark ‘David Bailey’ McConnell, ever looking for that great photo opportunity takes 5 attempts to position the camera and set the timer to get all of us plus the sprawling valley in shot. Needless to say we had many photos of some ‘interesting’ rocks. Further down the path we get some sensible group shots with the map book, after all it is a work trip!

Team photo SeathwaiteWe’re all down by 11:30am and quickly pack the cars, stretch and in some cases strip off. Just as we’re doing this Mark hands a map book to a father and son team looking a little lost and intending on hitting the summit. After turning them around and explaining the best route to them they’re off and so are we, down to North Wales. We’re staying at The Premier Inn at Caernarfon and once again the talk turns to who’s going to be sharing a room with whom. But this proves to be slightly premature…

Best laid plans!

Broken down carNot long after Tim had stepped up to do his first stint of driving for the weekend he utters the words you really don’t want to hear as you’re cruising along the M6; ‘that’s not supposed to do that’. The car loses all power and is soon drifting down the motorway. He quickly guides the car off at the next junction for it to come to a complete halt on the slip road, things don’t look good. The recovery man arrives and soon there are more bits of engine on the roadside than under the bonnet. Litres of fuel are gushing out from lots of places it really shouldn’t be. It doesn’t look like we’re getting to Wales!

Stranded somewhere in North Yorkshire Matt, Andy, Tim and Kieran are facing the prospect of a long transfer home and only completing two of the three peaks as it doesn’t look like the car is going to move another inch. Even with the recovery man referring to the problem under the bonnet as an issue with the ‘enginey thing’ no-one can raise a smile.

The other members of the team soon arrive and it’s decision time. Do we finish our Three Peaks challenge as a group here, or does one car bravely carry on to the finish? After a long debate we decide that it’s right for one car to carry on and also squeeze one other person into the one remaining car that works. Tim, Matt and Kieran reluctantly choose to stay with the stricken car which by now is in kit form; Andy meanwhile wastes no time in jumping ship. Before anyone can mutter ‘splitter’ he’s grabbed his stuff and wedged himself in the back between Sharon and Hayley.

Waiting for the car to be fixedMorale among the remaining 5 takes a slight dip now that the team has been broken up and only half are due to finish, but this is short-lived. As soon as Mark, Steve, Sharon, Hayley and now Andy arrive at their hotel, showered and eaten, all thoughts of the others stuck in a transport depot somewhere in Blackpool disappear.


Day Four – Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), the last peak in our Three Peaks challenge

Starting height: 360 metres above sea level
Car park grid reference: SH647555
A-Z Map reference: 2E 33 (4B 68)
Start time: 6:30am

Group photo Pen-Y-Pass car parkSo only 5 people make it to the Pen-y-pass car park at the foot of Wales’ highest peak to take on Snowdon, the last of the 3 Peaks. The others had last been heard arguing over the last KFC in Warwick services just a few hours before. But never mind them, this was now all about the remaining 5 and the completion of an eventful 3 Peaks challenge.

Ascending Pyg TrackAnd so, after another early start, the weary but rested remainder leave the car park and head out along the Pyg track. Be careful here, there are a couple of footpaths out of this car park. The Miners track is an easy-going flat path that winds around the Llyn-Llydaw Lake but has a nasty sting in its tail when it eventually climbs back up to join the Pyg track. The Pyg in comparison is a steady climb the whole way.

Pyg TrackThe classic shape of Snowdon is hidden from view at this point, firstly by the ridge of Crib Goch and then by the low cloud which is still to move away. We head up the un-even rocky staircase which is a bit of a shock to the system this early in the morning, discarding expensive clothing garments as we go and soon we pop up over a ridge and the magnificent bowl-like terrain confronts us with Llyn Llydaw at the base. We turn right here along the fence line but are careful not to choose the sty immediately to our right. Cross this and you’re on Crib Goch, a knife-edged arête leading up to Snowdon’s summit – another day!

Pyg TrackOur path runs flat for a short while before the ascent begins again, all the while skirting around the perimeter of the great ‘bowl’. There a few hands-on moments as we scramble over large slabs of rock that protrude out of the side of the cliff but apart from that, this path is fairly routine. Soon our path and the top of the Miners track meet and we gaze down to the foot of this path, glad about the choice we’d made.

Pyg Track, Snowdon on our three peaks challengeNext up we hit some zig-zags which usually mean things are getting steeper. And they were! However, after about 3 or 4 turns we get up to the Snowdon Finger Stone, a monolith stone that stands erect at what feels like the summit, but it’s not. In fact the flat ground that we’re now on gently rises up to our left and we see the summit atop a professional made cairn sitting just in front of the stone clad building which houses the gift shop and coffee house, Sharon and Hayley are now happy! The smell of diesel hits us and we realise that we’re no longer walking on the path but have strayed onto the train track instead. The Snowdon railway which chugs its way up the side of the mountain gives people who aren’t able to walk up themselves, a chance to be on top of the highest peak in Wales but it’s too early in the day for visitors. We follow the path and then up the steps that wrap themselves around the cairn which now feel like the hardest part of the walk so far, did it need to be made this high?

Group photo at Snowdon summitWe get to the top at 9:00am and again there’s not too much to see but never mind. We’ve done it, 3 peaks in 3 days. Just time for a quick photo, touch the summit trig point and it’s time to go. We head back to the Finger Stone, turn right into the zig-zags and soon we’re back to the junction with the Miners track. Be careful not to miss the sign as Mark did saying he’d seen something ‘interesting’ in the distance. Once on it the path descends quickly down to Glaslyn Lake, where it would be rude not to skim a few stones in the crystal clear water. Once at the bottom the miners track is an easy walk beside the 2 lakes back to the car park. Finished! We’re back to the car by 11am, the car park is full and the queue for the toilet is around the building. For the last time we consign all manner of walking gear to the back of the car and head for home.

Car being taken awaySo really this is how the trip ended for our two groups, one stuck on the hard shoulder of the M6 somewhere in North Yorkshire and the other celebrating a great achievement at the top of Wales’ highest point and summiting the final of the Three Peaks.

If you’re looking for an achievable adventure that’s both challenging and enjoyable and don’t mind the odd mile or two sitting in a car then you can’t go far wrong with this. Nothing wrong with doing it in 24 hours, this is just slightly more fun.

Here’s a few things we’d recommend for your own Three Peaks challenge:

Adventure Atlas National Three Peaks map

  • Use our National Three Peaks A-Z Adventure map book and map case
  • Get some decent hill walking gear
  • Have a relatively good personal fitness
  • Get some earplugs
  • Have a bit of knowledge about navigation and bad weather walking
  • Eat Jelly Babies
  • Leave early and avoid the crowds
  • Get some decent breakdown cover!

Good Luck!



Here’s another another quick competition for you. We’re giving you the chance to win any one of our A-Z Adventure Atlases. All you need to do is answer this question:

What is the total straight line distance, to the nearest mile, between Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon?

Enter by posting a comment below or by sending us a Direct Message (using Facebook or Twitter). The closing date for entries is Monday 29th February 2016. Please see full competition terms and conditions below.

Terms and conditions

Continue reading

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The A-Z Maps Three Peaks Challenge – Part 1

Most people know The Three Peaks challenge as a 24-hour challenge. We’ve done it and didn’t completely enjoy the whole experience. It’s true that you’re left with a tremendous sense of achievement after completing the nation’s three highest mountains in 24 hours but the time restriction that accompanies the challenge doesn’t allow much free time to enjoy the climbs, views and summits of Scotland’s, England’s and Wales’ highest peaks.  Add to that the risk of travelling (sometimes fast) between the peaks and the disruption caused to the residents of Wasdale as hordes of noisy ‘three peakers’ arrive in the Lake District at 3am, the 24 challenge is not for everyone. But there is another way…

Day One – A long journey from The South to The North

The Three Peaks Adventure AtlasTo mark the release of our National Three Peaks Adventure Atlas we thought we’d give the three peaks of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon another go, but this time take on the challenge over three days instead. There’d be no sweaty and slightly smelly minibus this time. With no stopwatch to be racing against we could travel in relative comfort and get some decent night’s sleep. And as we’d be spending nights in Fort William, Keswick and Caernarfon, we’d also be putting money back into the local coffers too. Bonus!

So 8 of us left Kent in 2 cars at around 5am on a Friday morning with bags of enthusiasm, but by the time we’re half way up the A1M, boredom has kicked in. Even the relative excitement of trying to navigate through Yorkshire with only an A-Z of Essex to guide us doesn’t keep us entertained for long.  Still, we manage to stay ahead of the Bank Holiday Friday traffic and soon cross the border and head into Scotland.

Still on our wayOnce we’re through the bottle neck that is Glasgow we’re soon heading along the A82 which takes us right through the awesome valley of Glencoe. We eventually arrive at Fort William at around 6pm and our accommodation for the night; Snowgoose Mountain Centre, Corpac, just 2 minutes northwest of Fort William. After drawing lots to find out who’s going to share a bunk with Tim as apparently he snores a bit (!) we head into town for our first bit of decent food for the day that’s not a pack of chocolate biscuits.

The Grog & Gruel

The Grog & Gruel (CC BY-SA 2.0 © calflier001/Flickr)

We can truly recommend the Grog and Gruel in Fort William for a hearty meal and a friendly welcome; just try to avoid wearing an England rugby top as Andy did, especially around the time of the Scottish independence vote. Apparently a Burger and fries and a pint of Nessie’s Monster Mash (or a Smirnoff Ice in Hayley’s case, still thinking she’s 18) are a perfect pre-walk meal for attacking Scotland’s finest the next day.

Day Two – Ben Nevis, the first peak in our Three Peaks challenge

Starting height: 15 metres above sea level
Car park grid reference: NN123731
A-Z Map reference: 1A 10 (2C 38)
Start time: 5:15am

Team photo before starting our three peaks challengeWe’re pretty much the first couple of cars in the car park and it’s a calm, clear morning. Ominously all the surrounding peaks are visible except for the one we’re heading to…

The start of the walk

Ben Nevis is the highest of the 3 peaks and normally the first of the 3 to be tackled on the Three Peaks challenge. The starting point is pretty much at sea level meaning this was going to be a long walk up and down. Wishing we’d gone for the Pasta dish instead last night, we set out across the river using the footbridge and head back along the river for about a hundred yards before turning left across some fields.

Mountain TrackAfter a couple of minutes we get to a sty, which proves tricky for some considering the amount of gear we’re carrying, especially Tim and Matt who had recently emptied the local Cotswold Outdoors store. Turn right here and the flat ground now gives way to the steep path named the ‘Mountain track’ or ‘Pony track’ – a rocky path that traverses the side of a huge slab. This twists and turns back on itself before you round a left hand bend and here the path steepens again to a natural stopping point.

Time for a restDon’t stop here however, 50 yards further on the ground flattens alongside a small lake or Lochan. Just past this is a T-junction, make sure you turn right here as a left turn will take you around to the North side of the mountain and a much longer and steeper ascent along the Carn Mor Dearg Arête.

Admiring the viewJust after the junction we cross an impressive waterfall which signals the start of the famous Ben Nevis Zig-zags. These are 7 or 8 short sections of path that hog the side of the mountain and with each one the terrain gets slightly steeper and the rocks underfoot get looser. The car park is still visible at this time getting smaller and smaller. Usually this far into a mountain walk all you’re able to see is a load of rock in front and behind you, but being on the side of ‘the Ben’ the road and the river are clearly visible as are the mountains that look strangely higher on the other side.

The first bit of snowSoon the loose stones underfoot give way to the white stuff. Cue all manner of gear extracted from the backpacks; Gaiters, Crampons, poles etc. Now the mountain changes completely taking on a truly alpine feel, with a fresh dusting of snow the previous night massive snowdrifts had formed and each of the ‘Five Finger Gullies’ eat into the summit plateau perilously close to the straightest route to the summit so make sure you keep your head up, no guard rails here!

Steve, the first to arriveSteve’s the first one to the top getting there at 9.07am, amazingly only one other person is there, but within 5 minutes the rest of the group arrive. Even Mark, who spent several minutes helping out a group of girls with their walking poles turns up eventually.

Another team photoThe 6 foot cairn that the trig point sits on top of is completely covered by snow and it’s even a tricky step down to the old summit observatory. This does however give a bit of relief from the elements whilst we compose the team photo. We do this quickly as we notice that the path back is now full of walkers heading to the summit, time to go!

A tip for next time

Snow cappedIf you’re planning to do Ben Nevis in May time, don’t start at 8am. We descend the same way we came up but this time have to squeeze past groups 4 or 5 wide, most gasping for air and asking ‘nearly there?’ Just around the next corner is our reply. Steve manages to pick up someone who’d been abandoned by her group, apparently a few weeks before they’d thought it would be a good idea to have a go at the Three Peaks challenge. We came across her too scared to go up or down. Ben Nevis isn’t a particularly scary or dangerous mountain providing you’re doing everything sensibly but if it’s to be your first time on a mountain something slightly smaller may be a good idea first.

We could do with some skisThe path clears after the bottlenecks that are the Zig-zags and once we’re past the Lochan and around the long right hand bend back into the valley we can see the car park. This path now seems to go on forever though; it’s still about a 3km walk back to the start / finish from here. The further we get down and the later it gets we can’t help but notice that walking boots and waterproofs have given way to trainers and shorts and t-shirts on most who now pass us, hopefully they’re not aiming for the top.

We’re back to the car by midday, ‘Saint Steve’ says goodbye to his new best friend and we’re soon off out of Scotland down to Cumbria. Our target for the evening is the Denton House Bunkhouse in Keswick, ideally placed just a 2 minute walk out of town. We arrive at 7.30pm and head straight into town for some proper grub, no more Lucozade or Flap-jacks today. We find a very accommodating pub called The Pack Horse Inn, they don’t mind us moving half their furniture around so that all 8 of us can sit together and discuss the days achievement and also to steal most of Mark’s chips. After that it’s back to the bunkhouse but not before we visit Keswick’s best Ice Cream parlour.

So, one mammoth journey and one mammoth hill done. Tomorrow, it’s England’s highest for us – come back next month for part 2 of this article and see how we get on.

Competition – updated 1st Feb 2016 – closed

We’ve just got time for a quick competition. We’re giving you the chance to win any one of our A-Z Adventure Atlases. All you need to do is answer this question:

What is the combined height (in metres) of all three mountains that make up the National Three Peaks?

Enter by posting a comment below or by sending us a Direct Message (using Facebook or Twitter). The closing date for entries is Sunday 31st January 2016. Please see full competition terms and conditions below.

Update 1st Feb 2016

Thanks to everyone who entered our Three Peaks Challenge competition. We’ve just drawn the winner so our congratulations go to Samantha Abbis who entered via Twitter with the correct answer of 3407 metres.

Look out for part two of our Three Peaks Challenge blog later today to find out whether the team completed the challenge. There could be another competition in there too…

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Christmas Map Names Quiz

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National Jigsaw Day

To celebrate National Jigsaw Day we’ve put together this quick online puzzle for you to have a go at. It’s just for fun, but can you beat our time of 4 minutes 34 seconds?

If you enjoyed doing this puzzle, take a look at our 1000 piece A-Z London map jigsaw. It’s quite a challenge – you certainly won’t be able to complete it in less than 5 minutes!

Make the most of our #NationalJigsawDay special offer too –  we’re giving 20% off until midnight on 3rd November 2015.

London A-Z map jigsaw

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A new colouring book and colouring competition

We’ve just released our very own colouring book based on our instantly recognisable mapping and it’s packed full of map images and other interesting designs from around Great Britain. This adult colouring book lets you colour your way around the country from the comfort of your front room.

Maps A Colouring Book

Competition Time!

To mark this release, we’re running a colouring competition. Simply download one or both of the images below, print them out, colour them in and post a photo of your completed image on our Facebook page or Twitter feed using the hashtag #colouringaz. The competition is open until the end of October 2015. You can only enter once for each competition image.

We’ve asked two of our expert cartographers (Hayley and Mark) to judge the entries for this colouring competition and decide on the winner. So what can you win? We’re giving away a copy of Maps – A Colouring Book and a £25 Amazon voucher to the entry we like the most.

Happy colouring!

Download the PDF files of either (or both) competition images here, print them out and get started:

Tower of London Competition image

Competition now closed!

Inverness Mandala Competition image

Competition now closed!

UPDATE 2nd November 2015

Our judges have been busy debating over the only entry we received and have decided that it’s definitely worthy of winning the prize!

Well done to Kristyn for being the only successful participant and thanks for taking the time to send us your entry. We love the bright colours and graduated shading you’ve used. Those shapes you’ve drawn over the map also make it really interesting.

Colouring Competition Winner Kristyn

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Weatherproof Map Case – Don’t Let Rain Dampen the Adventure!

It’s a long standing problem that walkers have to deal with – even if you set off with the bluest of skies above you, chances are in the UK that at some point in the day rain will make an unwelcome arrival. We know that this can really hinder your ability to continue reading your map when you’re out and about, and so we’ve come up with a way to keep your Adventure Atlas safe and dry for when things get a little wet!

Weatherproof Map Case – The Perfect Fit

Weatherproof Map Case

Weatherproof Map Case

Standing at 255mm tall with a width of 135mm folded / 280mm flat, this made to measure Adventure Atlas weatherproof map case sits flush around the product unlike some other cumbersome, less practical cases meaning it easily fits into a jacket pocket. The case envelops the map in a weatherproof jacket allowing you to see the pages clearly without fear of water damage. Its Velcro sealing mechanism allows easy access to the atlas even when wearing the thickest of winter gloves.

A neck lanyard (available separately) can also be attached to the sturdy lanyard tab for those who prefer to have their map to hand instead of stored in a rucksack or pocket.

For A-Z Maps or OS Maps

Waterproof Map Case

Waterproof Map Case in action!

This weatherproof map case are designed to allow the clear visibility of the map should wet weather arrive and are made of soft feel light weight 500 micron thickness plastic. They also fit Ordnance Survey maps, so whichever walking journey you decide to embark on next, don’t leave home without one!


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