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Can one map be enough?

Depends on the map, I guess.


Here we go, back into lockdown.


Or rather, back into Tier 4, which is not as stark as our initial lockdown in the spring (schools are still open for some baffling reason) but it still feels … not good. Discouraging.


But then, why is it discouraging? For me, there isn’t actually that much actual impact.


Indoor socializing is banned and outdoor gatherings are still limited to the 2 households/6 people limit – but that’s been the case for a while here in Glasgow. And anyway, I’m lucky in that I live with three of my good friends – so I’m not socially isolated in the way that I would be if this had come to pass while I lived alone. Restaurants and ‘unessential’ shops are closed – but I wasn’t going to those anyway.


The major impact in my life are the travel restrictions. People who live in Tier 4 areas (like Glasgow) are now forbidden from travelling outside their area except for essential purposes, while travel even within the area is discouraged. So, no more impromptu escapes to the hills on the rare sunny day. No more grabbing my rucksack and my pup and heading for the wilds.


But, I wasn’t doing much of that lately anyway.


Doing a full time Masters course at the same time as a Permaculture Design Certificate course, I haven’t had time or energy to plan excursions up to the hills or sneak away for a cheeky wild camp. Most days I’ve restricted my wandering to Queens Park, only getting as far afield as even Linn or Pollock Parks once a week or so. It is a stark change from my life over the summer, where I was managing to get a wild camp at least once a week.


So if this feeling of discouragement isn’t so much the actual travel restrictions, it might actually be about the idea of them. The restrictions make the feeling of being stuck concrete and real.


So, how to unstick?


Even before the Lockdown 2: Electric Bugaloo was a thing, I was starting to feel the need to unstick. All of my learning is distance learning right now – so hours and hours in front of a monitor. My neighborhood has everything I need – which is, of course, great, but it felt like my world was collapsing to 6 square blocks just north of Queens Park. After the joy of the summer where I could feel the expansion of awareness that comes from walking through the glens and lairigs of the Highlands, I felt smaller and less.


And then earlier this month, Alastair Humphreys posted this tweet:


Now, I love maps. I love any opportunity to look at them. I collect them from places I’ve gone, and enjoy taking them back out to look at. One of my favorite things to do the morning I get home from a wild camp is to pull out a map and immediately start planning the next one.


What I’m saying is, he had me at hello and I was in.


My one map


Mainly based on price, I opted not to do the custom map, but just to buy my local OS Map, which is #342: Glasgow, Paisley, Rutherglen & Kirkintilloch.


And just look at it:

It covers a wide swath of land, from the mouth of the River Clyde, through the cities of Paisley and Glasgow. The West Highland Way starts in the topmost square of the grid, while the John Muir Way dips in to the Northwest and the Clyde Walkway and Kelvin Walkway march across its face.


Look closer:

At first glance, there is an awful lot of dense urban space. Kilometer after kilometer of dense neighborhoods, crisscrossed by the scars of the M8, the M74 and the M77.


But look closer.


Look at all the water: lochs, reservoirs, rivers.


Look at the nature preserves, the woods, the braes, the contour lines.


This is a good map. A map full of adventures. A place to discover.