The Rules

So, I would like to visit all 403 OS Explorer map areas. How exactly am I defining this? Allow me a moment of your time, friend, and I will tell you!

Ideally I would do something interesting in each map area, such as go for a walk, visit a friend, or admire a local landmark; this is very much the spirit of the exercise and I intend to try to do something like that wherever possible. However, I like to have a guiding rule, so: I can only count myself as having been to a map area if in the area covered by that map I exited my mode of transport, clearly left areas that are related to the mode(s) of transportation I was using, and did something that wasn’t purely fulfilling needs I faced as a through-traveller. So these examples don’t count:

  • Maps that I only travelled through and did not stop in.
  • Maps in which I stopped at a shop to get some food on my way somewhere else
  • Maps in which I changed train, bus, plane etc., not leaving the train station etc. other than for functional things like to go to a shop.
  • Maps in which I switched mode of transport, only walking briefly to get between transport stops
  • Maps in which I got out of a car passing through, but only to refuel, buy food or drink or similar

Furthermore, the above rule defines situations which certainly don’t count as a visit. However, I will often go further than this at my discretion: while I can count a visit if it

Additionally, I can further choose not to count a visit, even if it’s allowed under the above, at my discretion – I’ll do this sometimes if I think the visit would make for a particularly uninteresting post, or if, even though I fulfilled the rule, it still doesn’t feel much like I got to see the area.

(In the early days of this blog, I used looser criteria, whereby if I clearly left the route I was travelling to fulfil a need, e..g walking out of the train station or driving off the motorway to find a shop, that would count as a visit. I decided to change this, since it seemed more fitting with the spirit of wanting to see a lot of Great Britain – I’d like to have only visited a place if I did something that has me appreciate the location in some way, rather than just go to a shop, which I could do anywhere. And it was making for some pretty boring blog posts, e.g. my Newark post. However, I’m not retrospectively “un-visiting” past maps because of this.)

Another need for clarity comes from areas where OS map areas overlap. I want to have, when I’ve completed my goal, unambiguously have visited every map area, meaning that I should, at that point, have visited not only some point of every map, but for every map, a place belonging uniquely to that map. However, it seems a bit silly to say that overlap areas don’t count at all in the meantime – If I’ve visited a completely new part of the country, it shouldn’t not get a blog post and not increment my total number of maps visited just because I happened to only visit an area of overlap. Therefore, the rules:

  • A place can count only for one map at a time. Therefore, when I visit a place in an overlap, a choice must be made as to which map it belongs to. 
  • A place within a region of overlap between a map I have visited and one I haven’t must count for the old map, not the new. To visit a new map that has overlap with an old one, I therefore must go to an area that isn’t in the overlap.
  • Multiple places within a region of overlap can can only collectively count for one map. 
  • If I visit an area of overlap without having visited another part of either map, I can choose which it belongs to. However, if/when I later visit a part of one of those maps not in the overlap, the overlap place comes to belong to the map that I’ve now visited not in the overlap. Therefore, there may well be cases where a map area becomes “un-visited”.
  • Therefore, in the long run, I have to not only visit every map area, but unique parts of every map area.
  • So, for example: if A and B overlap and I go to the region of overlap, I can decide that it counts for map A. If I later visit a unique area of A, that confirms A as visited; I’d then have to visit B separately. However, if I visit a unique area of B first, A becomes “un-visited” as the overlap place switches to B. I then have to visit A separately.
  • The situation is more complicated with multiple areas of overlap on one map and overlaps more than two maps deep, but the rule works. (I think!)

Now, I did not live nearly 24 years in this country without ever going to any of it. In fact, I had before starting this blog been to 143 of the 403 Explorer map areas; that is 36% of them. I post every time I go to an area that I haven’t posted before, that is, every area I visit that I haven’t been to since starting this blog (on the 11th of December 2017). When I post about an area that I went to pre-blog, I also try to write something about the previous time(s) that I went there, preferably supplemented by some of my archive material!