The demise of OpenSpace

Since its launch in 2008 by the Ordnance Survey, we have used OpenSpace mapping to display our walk routes on mapping at (optimally) 1:50000 scale, older routes had only a rough digital sketch map. The OpenSpace API (Application Programming Interface) was based on OpenLayers 2.12 and the OS need to remove this dependency and enable their map products to be used with any mapping library.

They recently emailed us to announce the withdrawal of their OpenSpace mapping in August 2021, to be replaced in our case by the OS Maps API available via the OS Data Hub. I saw the end coming quite a while ago when they declared that OpenSpace is no longer officially supported, though still available to existing users. They included links to their web pages to get us started on migration of our maps, but after creating a new account (mandatory) and obtaining a new API key, I immediately had a couple of very basic questions that I emailed to them.

It was far from clear which map type to use for our purposes: the choice was between WMTS and REST-ZXY, which meant little to me in our context. Their answer was that WMTS is better for GIS software and ZXY is better for web mapping (it requires less code).

Another choice was between layers: Leisure_27700 and Outdoor_27700 both sounded right. Leisure_27700 is the layer that gives access to 50k and 25k maps.

To get access to the 1:50000 and 1:25000 maps, the new account must be a premium account, but no financial details or commitment are necessary at this stage. Their web page shows their tile-based pricing structure with premium plan details to be supplied, but the first £1000 of access per month is free – that should be plenty for our site.

After the inevitable learning curve, I took the opportunity to make a big improvement to the way we create and show maps and the result is much better. Rather than a dedicated map page for each route, which requires changes to every one of them whenever a general change is needed, there is a single route-agnostic map page that is supplied with route-specific details for each trip via its PHP interface. The route map is now shown in a bigger window and the mapping will zoom in to 1:25000 if desired.

At the same time I went through the numerous older trips that previously had only sketch maps and they are now plotted on OS mapping.
Three solid weeks of effort, but CV lockdown is a good time to do it and I’m pleased with the result.

CV#03 – Sinderland & Carrington Moss

Carrington Moss trig point 23mCV lockdown walk from the door #3.

This circuit uses a section of the Bridgewater Way to reach the woodland park paths following Sinderland Brook westwards to the disused rail trackbed through the Carrington estate. Good tracks enable a diversion around part of Carrington Moss before returning on the trackbed to join the Transpennine Trail by lane to Seamon’s Bridge.

Carrington Moss is a broad expanse of farmland reclaimed from peat bog that is nigh on flat as a pancake. A trig point right in the middle of it is begging to be bagged for its curiosity value alone and a lattice of good tracks enables a very pleasant walk to it.

The narrow path of the disused rail trackbed through the Carrington Estate is not maintained, not a right of way and is not endorsed by any signage, but is clearly quite well known to locals at its eastern end. West of Brookheys Farm, the trackbed is impassable but a walker path is established on the south side of the line.
The line was used by oil trains serving Carrington refinery whose extensive infrastructure can be seen from the trig point and nearby tracks.

Full report & photos

CV#02 – Transpennine Trail, Bridgewater Way & Dunham Massey

Dunham MillThe CV lockdown wears on with another three weeks announced this morning. This week has seen excellent clear sunny weather and we did a 5-mile walk on nearly deserted local leafy roads a couple of days ago. Today was our first chance for a longer walk worth a report.

This local circuit follows the Transpennine Trail west from Seamon’s Bridge skirting Heatley and Oughtrington to Lymm, returning on the Bridgewater Way along the canal to Little Bollington and through the National Trust (NT) park of Dunham Massey.

The buildings and gated gardens of NT properties are closed for the lockdown along with their car parks, meaning a very quiet and peaceful experience in the Dunham Massey parkland, but everywhere else, people were out in large numbers in the very warm sunshine, more than we have ever seen before on this route even at the height of a normal summer. Some deft manoeuvres were required at times to maintain distance on the canal towpath.

Full report & photos

CV#01 – Bridgewater Way & Transpennine Trail

The Mersey and TPTThe CV (CoronaVirus) lockdown has been upon us for what seems like ages but is actually just 2 or 3 weeks now. Public transport is off limits for all but essential travel for everyone, but particularly for us since we are in an at-risk group due to age and I had that pulmonary embolism a few years back that we think weakened one of my lungs.

For the forseeable future it’s quick walks into town for supplies and longer exercise walks from the door, maintaining distance from other people. The idea for this circuit came from a forced (effectively) 15-mile return walk to my regular NHS appointment for an INR checkup last week, it has temporarily been relocated to the main hospital around 8 miles away:- no way would I risk taking a bus confined with other people and the potential viral load in such an enclosed space.

This local circuit follows the Bridgewater Way along the canal to join the Transpennine Trail at the NCN 62 cycle route that meets the River Mersey and returns on tracks and lanes through woodland and countryside to the west.

Full report & photos