Our site works best with JavaScript enabled.

News - update on all things Alpkit

Magnetic North is on the move….

By Jay Oram
21, Jan, 2014

Using a map and compass in the UK may have become a little bit more complicated. Especially west of Penzance.

Screen shot 2014-01-21 at 13.10.27

Many of our customers use a map and compass and are involved in many outdoor activties. I know even while out canoeing it is a handy skill. 

But a lot of users don't realise there is a difference between grid north (those blue lines on the map) and magnetic north (where your compass points).

The reason for the post is that after years of teaching navigation, that now anywhere West of Penzance I can no longer use these easy rhymes to teach bearings;

map to grid -> add

OR

grid to map -> subtract.

Essentially to make sure your navigation was spot on, you had to adjust your compass when taking a bearing from the map or if you were taking a bearing off the land. If you took a bearing on land - say to the corner of a cliff or to an island on a lake - you would then need to subtract some degrees to line up the bearing on your map and vice versa. 

The opposite is now true in places further West than Penzance - as Ordnance Survey announced on their blog

'The magnetic variation throughout Great Britain has been a few degrees West of grid North with the amount of variation changing every year. For years the number has decreased, and now in the far South West of Britain, the North on your compass lies to the East of the North on your map for the first time since before the Ordnance Survey came into existence (in 1791 if you’re interested).  The change is slowly crossing the country, but for now can only be appreciated in our Custom Made maps with a centre to the West of Penzance.  Buy one now and you will find a new icon we have created in the legend to show the new relationship between the three Norths (magnetic, grid and true).'

Summed up - Magnetic North and grid North align at Penzance rather than off the mainland so you have to adjust your compass accordingly. (@coldfunk on Twitter- cheers)

I'd recommend getting on an outdoor course and learning some simple navigation skills - even to extend your trips just a little further off the beaten track. Every year we organise the Big Shakeout and we have had a number of navigation courses there to try. Alternatively grab the 'Ultimate Navigation Manual' from our store and do some reading - it's the best book we've found.

  • Google+

No Comments

Share your thoughts about this article.

General News

Fully Automated Customer Service: what you need to know
Introducing our new Fully Automated Customer Service Heroes!
In News
OSS and Alpkit Story competition
Share your inspiring watery tales
In News
Join us for an Easter Eggstravaganza
Join us for a weekend of activities
In News
The London Bike Show 2018
Alpkit hit the big city
In News
Steve Bate wins the Rovaniemi 150
Winning the Rovaniemi 150 arctic ultra race
In News

Elsewhere on Alpkit

Testing kit, product tips and chilly dips
Hero training on hills and in tarns
In Daring Deeds
High Altitude Gnocchi
Torino Nice Rally: Stodge Meets Pain
In Daring Deeds
Preparing for Rovaniemi 150
Steve Bate fat biking in the Arctic circle
In Daring Deeds
Pedalling the Globe
Customer Story
In Daring Deeds
Swimming 5 Lakes: An Everyday Adventure
5 (very cold) lakes, 1 weekend
In Daring Deeds
What is Merino Wool?
What's all this fuss about Merino wool?
In Develop
The low-down on Polygiene™
Wear more, wash less: you can't get simpler than that!
In Develop
Argonaut Waterproof Jacket
Premium performance without the price-tag
In Develop
Branching out with the Rando Range
New welded bike luggage
In Develop
A Blank Canvas for our Tent Range
Good quality tents on a budget
In Develop
Choosing a down sleeping bag
The factors involved in selecting a suitable sleeping bag for your next big trip
In Spotlight
Wild Camping Tips
The guide to getting it right when camping out
In Spotlight
Riding the Lakes
Where to ride on the road
In Spotlight
SLEEP Better
Optimise your sleeping bag's warmth
In Spotlight
You Warm the Bag
Comfort ratings for sleeping bags
In Spotlight