View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy
Showing posts with label GPS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GPS. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Mersey Run, Sunday 8th October 2017

Around 6 miles of river bank flatness

A nice post-wedding run along the banks of the River Mersey towards Stockort. I didn’t record the route….’cos I forgot to switch the damned GPS on when I started. It was a flat run in lovely conditions: cool and dry – ideal for running.

Just a few photos from the run:

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River Mersey near Heaton Mersey

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Autumn colours

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Remains of the bridge that once carried a branch of the Cheshire Line 

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Remains of the bridge that once carried Manchester Central to Buxton trains

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On approach to Ringway


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B5095 road bridge

This was just the job for the much-needed brain reset. Weddings are stressful!

The photographs were taken using my old Samsung S3 Mini. The reason for taking it with me wasn’t for photographic purposes but to use the Viewranger app & GPS….which I didn’t use after all.

It’s an age thing….

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Testing the new ViewRanger app

http://www.viewranger.com/plugins/themes/vr2/img/viewranger-logo.png

The good folk at Viewranger have improved their already very good navigation app. In order to make sure that it ticked all the right boxes a number of guinea-pigs were recruited to drink coffee, play with the new app, go for a nice little walk…and to drink some beer.

Oli, of Viewranger fame, had arranged this little jolly that had a select group of outdoorsy-types gathering in Castleton at the unearthly hour of 11am….that’s the 11am in the morning, in case you were wondering. Oli, being a sensible sort of chap, had brought reinforcements from Viewranger in case the group decided to revolt at some point during the day. The reinforcements happened to be quite expert on all aspects of the app and they were able to answer any questions we may have had. Like ‘when do we stop for lunch?’.

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Those of the gathered throng that didn’t have iPhones or iPads (we were testing the Apple version) were issued with appropriate phones or tablets. After a quick chat to describe the new features and to make sure we were all sufficiently up to speed with the app we were released onto the Peak District’s unsuspecting hills using Viewranger to navigate Oli’s route.

If you’ve already got Viewranger you can view the route here , it’s a nice little route that was designed to test out the new features of Viewranger.

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A fine pair of knees and the ‘new’ Viewranger screen

Viewranger ‘Skyline’

One significant additional feature of the new Viewranger are the abililty to be able to identify hills and other features simply by activating the device’s camera and pointing it in the direction of the area of interest. They call this feature ‘Skyline’. This is done using the button on the top right corner of the screen – the one with a question mark. The result is something like this (but without my reflection):

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I’m afraid the image above doesn’t illustrate the facility too well. In reality it’s really good and makes Viewranger an even more valuable aid to navigation. The diagonal labels on the screen indicate the various tops, their height and how far away they are.

The little window on the bottom right corner of the screen selects various filters: Peaks, Places, Points of Interest, and Water. Water filters are good.

Another additional feature is the little arrow at the top left corner of the screen. This comes into play when following a route on the app; it points you in the direction you need to be travelling. Good eh?

It’s also possible to grab a screen shot which could be saved, emailed or whatever.

 

It was hot in Castleton, not as hot as the previous day’s 31degC, but still very hot. With this hotness in mind, the route had been tweaked* slightly to avoid the risk of heatstroke, premature exhaustion, dehydration etc.

* tweaked = shortened

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Getting to grips with the new app

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Oli indicating The One True Way. Uphill.

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Hollins Cross

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The Vale of Edale

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My Samsung S3 Mini running the ‘old’ Viewranger, an iPad running the ‘new’ Viewranger

I didn’t find much difference in the performance of Viewranger operating under Android or Apple (IOS?) although the much larger screen size of the iPad made the app easier to use – and the maps considerably easier to view.

The screen of a smart phone is infinitely clearer than most dedicated GPSs – certainly better than both my SatMap10 and Garmin Etrex20. 

The Skyline facility is certainly far more than a gimmick, it’s a really useful navigational aid. It enable the easy identification more distant features. It’s also possible to customise Skyline. From what I’ve been able to deduce, points of interest can be added to a map or route and these features will be indicated on the Skyline. In addition it’s possible to add route notes, such as ‘Steep decent ahead’, ‘Dragons be here’ etc.

This latest version of the app is initially only going to be available for Apple devices but the Android version is due for release around October.

 

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The old Stockport to Sheffield road, closed due to repeated landslips since 1979. I last travelled this road in the early 1970s on my old Triumph T90. Happy days!

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To misappropriate a Bradburyism: ‘The final assault on the summit’ of Mam Tor

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The gash in the landscape that is Winnats Pass

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Mam Tor, ‘Shivering Mountain’

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Mam Tor from Speedwell

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Winnats Pass from Speedwell

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Chilling at the apres debrief

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Oli’s description of the route:

Starting from the Castleton National Park Visitor Centre, this walk initially follows the stream of Odin Stitch with great views of Mam Tor before breaking right towards Hollins Cross and the Great Ridge.
A left turn at Hollins Cross provides some wonderful high-level walking that eventually leads to the 517m summit of Mam Tor.
The descent route leads through disused mines and past the impressive caves of Blue John, Treak Cliff, Speedwell and Peak Caverns on its way back to the pubs, shops and cafes of Castleton
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Conclusion

I’ve played with Viewranger on and off for a few years but not spent much time learning it’s ins and outs, prefering to stick with my Garmin Etrex20. With Oli and his Viewranger buddies being on hand I soon discovered that the app is really quite straightforward and easy to use – and it’s very useful.

What’s even better, Viewranger is free – you just buy the mapping, eg: All GB National Parks, 1:50K @ £8.50, All NW England 1:50K @ £8.50. I’m looking forward to the release of the Android version of the update, I’ll certainly be making use of it.

Thanks to Oli and his team from Viewranger for a pleasant few hours wandering around, the teas, coffees, beers etc – and their good company.

I was home in time for tea.

Friday, 12 December 2014

2nd December, Even more Dales Way

Bolton Abbey to Otley Chevin

I drove over to Rick’s at the unearthly hour of stupid o’clock in the morning in a fairly successful attempt at beating the worst of the rush hour traffic. I transferred to Rick’s rather more luxurious motor for the journey to darkest Yorkshire – it was his turn to drive. Bella, Stuart and Peter met us at Otley Chevin and they all piled into Rick’s car for the drive to Bolton Abbey.

image Bolton Abbey, where we finished last time….and today’s start

It was a wee bit fresh, although not too cold to deter other walkers – obviously Tuesdays are walking days around these parts. We headed off south on the west bank of the River Wharfe – first stop Ilkley. We were moving at a fair pace, I needed to be back in Timperley for 6.30pm and we had a fair distance to cover.

Lunch was taken at the start / finish of the Dales Way, on the outskirts of Ilkley.

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Scones, butties and hot drinks were demolished in double quick time. A rare one-legged heron waiting for lunch to arrive:

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After lunch we turned away from the River Wharfe to walk through the centre of Ilkley to gain the heady heights of Ilkley Moor. We were now off the Dales Way proper and on one of the Dales Way link routes partially shared with the Ebor Way. This one goes as far as Leeds – but not today.

 

The Moody Cow:

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I’ll say nowt, it’ll only be wrong.

image Up to Ilkley Moor – without our hats

Looking at the 1:25k OS map it’s clear that this moorland area has a lot of history, there are loads of ancient cairns, cup and ring marked stones shown. I’ll be back to explore the area when time is less pressing, if nothing else it will make an interesting navigational exercise.

We followed a footpath around the edge of the moor rather than across the moor itself, quinciquontly we had interesting views to the north east.

image A radar station, visible to the NE of Ilkley Moor

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Cow & Calf rocks

Leaving the moor by Burley Woodhead, our next target was Menston. Light was failing and it was getting cold. We still had plenty of time to get back to Timperley for 6.30pm but we didn’t have time to waste. Paths and lanes were good and easy to follow which made for fast progress. I felt a bit mean pushing the party on, we weren’t even going to manage a pint after this leg of the route.

image Sunset from Beacon Hill, a couple of miles east of Menston

We arrived back at Bella’s Tardis of a Jeep in the dark. When sheep and traffic allowed, we sped back to Bolton Abbey and Rick’s car. We were still okay for time – provided there were no hold-ups on the journey home.

A long hold up around Skipton followed by a virtually closed M66 buggered up the plan big time. A mega multi-vehicle shunt meant that the traffic was going nowhere fast. Hours later we got back…and I got it in the neck.

Oh well, at least it didn’t rain.

Where we jolly-well went:

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According to WalkLakes mapping my excellent Garmin Etrex20 GPS we did:

Length: 15.4 miles  24.8 km

Ascent: +539m  -464m

Start: 2014-12-02 10:21:02 GMT

End: 2014-12-02 16:45:10 GMT

A great day out….just a shame about the collateral damage,

Sunday, 16 November 2014

15th November, Tally-Ho! from Nangreaves, Route v4.2

The real thing..

A number of exploratory / recce trips to this area were needed in order to finalise this route, mainly due to the large number of illegally blocked Rights of Way (Right of Ways?), completely unmarked footpaths and generally difficult to navigate ground. An a lot of mud.

Anyroadup, this is what happened on the Big Day…

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The Lord Raglan, Nangreaves

The choice of this pub as a venue for Tally-Ho! had absolutely nothing to do with The Leyden Brewery. Nothing at all.

First to set off from The Lord Raglan at Nangreaves were Ding Dong and Whitworth. They had arranged to meet at the pub at 12.30, thus ensuring an early start. After a leisurely tour around the lanes of South Lancashire, Ding-Dong arrived promptly at 1.30pm thus ensuring a not terribly early start.

Rumours of a collection in the pub to raise dosh to buy Ding-Dong a map are completely false….I think they want to buy him a SatNav so his navigation prowess could match that of Whitworth’s…..and he NEVER gets lost. Well, not very often – especially now he has a new Merc with a built in SatNav.

Whitworth and Prez Park left the pub in a blur (well that’s what the drunk outside the pub said), heading north along a short strip of tarmac. The money men (Ding Dong and Mapless  Taylor) ran together – leaving a little later than normal.

The dryness of the tarmac wasn’t to last long. Leaving the road, the extremely well-laid sawdust trail led our valiant heroes to a soggy path of a couple of hundred yards (around 183.44m). Damp grass drenched their running shoes comprehensively. Nice.

Other runners followed in their wake, all finding the extremely well-laid trail very easy to follow.

Whilst the hounds were enjoying (eh?) following the trail, the hares were taking great care to leave a clear sawdust & paper trail across some seriously rough and boggy ground.

First obstacle of the day was the illegally blocked footpath at  Croston Close:

image A Concessionary Path is offered as an alternative route, but the path through the farmyard exists as a Public Right of Way – the landowner clearly has a different opinion.

Next came the first ‘river’ crossing of the day. In recent weeks the stream that is Cheesden Brook had been a mere 2 – 3ft wide (609.6– 914.4mm….approx), the recent heavy rain had swollen the watercourse quite considerably. This ensured that many pairs of Innovates were suddenly mud-free. For a minute.

An uphill pull to a track led the hounds to Ashworth Reservoir. Once through a heavy metal gate the trail ran alongside a Water Authority-built wall to pick up a minor road at the east side of the reservoir.

The Trail-Layers were on the return leg of the trail and were able to watch some of the hounds, on the outward leg, as they ran along that stretch of road. Fortunately they were too far away to be able to hear the runners cursing, swearing and plotting sweet revenge.

Once across Edenfield Road, Knowle Hill came into full view. Curses were heard to be uttered as it slowly dawned on the hounds that the trig-point at the top was to be their next objective. And so it was.

Mud, bog, streams, windmills and sheep were just some of the hazards to be encountered on this uphill stretch. The sheep seemed intrigued:

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image The view south from Knowle Hill

A clear path off the eastern flank of Knowle Hill led the runners along part of the Rochdale Way, (thank-you Wiki!) in the direction of the Naden Reservoirs. The reservoirs only became visible after climbing a stile at Dixon’s Brow. The change of scenery was quite a revelation – so far the views were mainly of moorland, bogs and mud. To see the land open out in such a dramatic way almost caused some to stop and stare for a few minutes. It was either that or they were knackered after Knowle Hill and they needed a breather.

P1030208aNaden Reservoirs 

Clumps of sawdust and the Rochdale Way made for easy navigation as the route swung south and then west(ish) on the return leg.

Another stream crossing and on through Knowl Farm:

imageKnowle Farm, used for filming ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ 

Re-crossing Edenfield Road gave temporary relief from the mud and gunge, in fact there was a good 10-15 minutes of relatively clean running. Until a particularly muddy, sludgy stretch of track that led to a particularly muddy, sludgy river crossing. It wasn’t long before Ashworth Reservoir once again hove into view, this heralded some nice running along only slightly horrendously waterlogged ground.

The Right of Way runs through Yates Farm but there was so much rubbish and detritus on the ground that a diversion was needed. It looks like the place is used as a scrap yard, a real mess.

Much nicer running followed once passed the farm: good tracks and paths, a short stretch of tarmac, and then a really gloopy farm track.

An uphill pull to a ‘notch’ on the horizon indicated the last stretch of the trail, although it was only once through the notch that it became clear the running was almost done. A stile and a short stretch of tarmac had us back at the pub.

20141115_161112First runners in 

imageNext in, Paul and Les 

The trail seemed to have been generally well received – although the beer at the pub got a better reception. It was rather good – just a shame I was driving.

Numbers were a bit low today, only 14(?) members sat down to a filling dinner of stewy stuff and mushy peas followed by fruit crumble. ‘Always hungry’  Blackshaw was unable to stay for dinner due to family commitments, this left Murray in a bit of a quandary regarding his pudding. He needn’t have worried though, help was at hand and his pudding vanished in the blink of an eye.

Layers of trail were Blackshaw and Jocys who had a thoroughly good day out – and even managed to beat all the hounds back to the pub.

This is where we went:

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Around 9 miles with about 1200’ ascent

That’s according to Memory Map and my Garmin Etrex20. I felt I could do with a good laugh so I took my SatMap Active10 along too. According to that heap of junk we covered 16.75 miles.

Impressed, eh?

Saturday, 9 August 2014

1st August 2014, SatMap GPS review.


 SatMap Active 10

imageFrom the current SatMap website
Up until recently I’ve used an old Garmin GPS for confirming my location. It was simple, had no frills and worked absolutely fine. Newer types of GPS are just so much more powerful and provide all manner of bells & whistles – often too many to make use of!
In December last year I was encouraged to take advantage of a special deal for members of the LDWA by SatMap, offering their SatMap Active 10, along with full UK mapping at 1:50k, 1:25k and 1:10k, all for £350. The deal included a two Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries, a set of Lithium (non-rechargeable) cells, and a voucher offering a substantial discount off Ordnance Survey mapping.
£350 is a lot of money – but when compared to the competition this appeared to be a good deal. One attraction of the SatMap was the large LCD screen – a relatively large area could be displayed on the screen.
imageThe LDWA SatMap offer: I was expecting all to be hunky-dory.
The SatMap Active 10 arrived very well packaged and it really looked the business. To say I was excited was an understatement! Other than a ‘Quick Start’ type leaflet, no other documentation was provided – not even on CD. I downloaded the manual off the internet and printed it off the 90 odd pages.
Mapping is supplied on two SD cards, one covering the entire South of the UK, t’other was the North.
The advertised spec of this device is seriously impressive: a sensitive receiver, good battery life, easy to use, large colour LCD display, excellent map coverage, etc. I was itching to get out with my new toy and try it in the real outdoors.
I’m still awaiting hunky-dory. Read on:

Issue No1: Failure after 3 hours

Timperley appeared on the South card and before long I was playing outside and having great fun tracking my short walks around the garden….until the display failed. This failure occurred after about 3 hours of use. Failures happen and although I was very disappointed I was quite philosophical about it. I phoned SatMap the following morning and they very promptly sent me a returns label to get the GPS back to them. A couple of days later a brand new GPS arrived and I was a happy bunny once again.
All things considered I felt that SatMap had provided a good service: my unit had failed and after returning it to them they had replaced it promptly and without fuss.
A couple of weeks later I went off to the Lake District for a day’s walking and took the SatMap with me – putting the ‘North’ SD card card in before leaving home. Of course I took my paper map with me – I would NEVER go out without map and compass….apart from anything else their batteries never run out!

Issue No2: SD Card Mapping faulty

I parked the car in Kentmere and headed out to walk the Kentmere Round. I switched on the SatMap to record my route and waited for the maps to appear. Then I waited a bit more. Nothing happened. I messed about but couldn’t bring the maps up, whatever I did. This wasn’t surprising – the ‘North’ SD card was anything but. In fact it was another ‘South’ card.
Another call to SatMap. They asked me to return the SD card and they would re-programme it for me. I did this and within a few days I had the re-programmed card. All was well once again.
SatMap programme the SD cards themselves under licence from OS – they’d programmed  / labelled the card incorrectly. Poor Quality Control, that sort of thing shouldn’t happen – certainly not when you pay this sort of money.
Timperley is very close to the northern boundary of the ‘South’ SD card – and a lot of my walking is in the Peak District and Pennines. Because of the position of the boundary I found I was having to swap SD cards in the field, not a good thing to have to do in poor weather…..or good weather for that matter, it’s VERY easy to drop a tiny SD card and to lose it in the undergrowth. So….

Issue No3: Unusable Discount Voucher

 

SatMap advertise a ‘Central’ UK SD card, again with 1:50k, 1:25k and 1:10k mapping. The coverage of this card would be ideal for me. It covered (from memory) almost as far as the Scottish border to the north, and almost as far south as South Wales. This would dramatically reduce the faffing about with swapping cards whilst out on walks.
I decided to take advantage of the discount voucher from SatMap to buy the Central card. I called SatMap, my discount voucher in hand, but was told that the voucher couldn’t be used to buy that map. WHY?? No sensible answer was forthcoming.
Why on earth offer a discount and then refuse to honour it? I was seriously not impressed.
To their credit, SatMap offered to reprogramme the ‘North’ SD card so that it’s southern boundary was level with the southern border of the Peak District. SatMap told me that there was sufficient space on the SD card to do this, – this made the situation better but not as good as I would have liked. This reprogramming was done at no extra charge. This was okay but not really what I wanted.

Issue No4: Poor battery life and other battery problems

 

The SatMap 10 is a powerful bit of kit – and the processing power gave the batteries quite a hammering, The 16 – 24 hours of battery life advertised was never achieved, anything from 6 – 14 hours was nearer the mark. Not really good enough.
A couple of other problems in the battery & charging department, really down to poor design:
1) The battery is charged via a USB connector. When the charger is connected it turns on the SatMap. However, disconnecting the charger from the SatMap DOESN’T switch it off. On more than a couple of occasions I’ve charged the battery the day before a walk and discovered the next morning that the batteries are flat. I’d disconnected the charger, forgotten the unit was switched on (after all, I’d not switched it on, the charger had!) and after a night sitting on the kitchen table the batteries were once again flat.
2) The battery connector used really isn’t man enough for the job. It’s the type of connector used for inter-PCB connections, designed for a very limited number of connection / disconnection cycles. This is a weak point in the hardware design and the connector WILL fail if used beyond it’s design limit – I’m guessing at 50 cycles max.

Issue No5: VERY slow acquiring satellites and computing position

 

Speed…or lack of speed. My SatMap is very slow in acquiring satellite signals and computing position. It can take up to 25minutes to discover where you are unless the GPS has an absolutely unobstructed view of the sky and is kept stationary.
My Garmin Etrex20 on the other hand is very quick. Today I did a side-by-side test in my back garden: SatMap vs Garmin. The Garmin won, hands down.
Results:
SatMap 10 Plus: 18mins 21secs
Garmin Etrex 20: 1min 14 secs

Issue 6: Insensitive receiver

 

…and this could well be related to the previous problem. The sensitivity of MY SatMap when compared to other identical devices is clearly well down. On a walk with Alan R earlier this year, Alan’s Satmap took not much more than 3 minutes to compute position. Mine took 14 minutes.
I borrowed a SatMap 10 Plus from a friend to do some more controlled comparisons. The results more or less confirmed that my SatMap device (the one on the right) was a poor performer:

SatMap
This initial test was carried out with both receivers on my kitchen table adjacent to a window, not an ideal position to check a satellite receiver’s performance. The photograph above was taken exactly 4 minutes after both devices were switched on together.
The GPS on the left had received data from 7 satellites and had computed it’s position.
The GPS on the right (mine) had detected only one satellite in that time. It took a further 12 minutes (total 16 minutes) for it to compute it’s position, and that was only receiving 5 satellites.
Similar differences in performance were obtained when the same test was carried out in my back garden with an unobstructed view of the sky.
SatMap explained that this difference in performance could be down to the SD card maps – cards with more data slow the device down. My SD cards had 1:10k, 1:25k and 1:50k OS maps for the South of UK, the other device had 1:50k OS for all of UK. I swapped the cards and although there was an improvement in the performance of my SatMap device it wasn’t overly significant.
In May this year I headed off to Scotland for pre-TGO Challenge trip and the actual TGO Challenge itself. I travelled around Glasgow, Fort William, Oban, the Isle of Mull, Kyle of Lochalsh, Plockton, and then to my Challenge start point of Torridon.
I’ve mentioned before that I ALWAYS carry paper maps and a compass, a good job too. 

Issue 7: Map tiles missing from SD Card

 

Out for a bit of a walk around Oban, I switched my SatMap on. I really couldn’t believe that SD card (North) didn’t have Oban on it. I went inland 10 or so miles, same result. In fact there was a huge area of the west coast of Scotland where the 1:10k, 1:25k and 1:50k OS mapping was missing from the card – certainly up as far as Torridon.
Messages on the LDWA discussion forum show that this isn’t an unknown problem.
I contacted SatMap who apologised once again and promised to programme another card that would be thoroughly checked and sent out within a couple of days. As I was moving around and had little idea of where I was going to be from one day to the next, this wasn’t much use so I asked for the SD card to be sent to my home.
A member of their mapping team confirmed that the new SD card had been prepared and ‘thoroughly tested’ a few days later.
Bear in mind that this was the first week of May.
Last week (the first week of August) the card still hadn’t arrived. To be fair to SatMap, I hadn’t chased them – although I really would have expected them to have sent it when they said they would.
I chased them and it was quite clear that a new card hadn’t been prepared when they said it had – they asked me to return the faulty SD card so they could re-programme it.
Two days ago the repaired card arrived – and it seems to be fine. It would take an age to check the coverage is as it should be, it’s a matter of scrolling through the entire area from the north of Scotland down to the Peak District using 1:10k, 1:25k and 1:50k OS. This is simply not practical so I have to trust that SatMap have done the job properly this time.
Other problems I’ve had are relatively minor, but annoying: the LCD screen lacks clarity and is difficult to view in bright sunlight, the manual is poor, I found that the device isn’t particularly intuitive to use – it’s quite complex, the battery cover looks flimsy and likely to fail….
Whilst on this year’s TGO Challenge I spoke to two other SatMap owners – both are looking to sell them. That says a lot.
Another owner, a Challenger, isn’t overly happy with his SatMap. He finds it over-complex and finds it difficult to use. He uses a Garmin Etrex instead. 
On the other hand I know two very satisfied SatMap Active 10 owners.
Amazon have an interesting range of reviews here. It’s clear that a majority of owners are happy with their purchases but well over 30% report significant problems.

Conclusion

On paper the SatMap Active 10 Plus is a superb bit of kit, however the build quality, reliability and general performance are all poor. customer service was initially good although as time went on I felt it was poor.
Once it became clear that I wasn’t able to rely on the SatMap I put my hand in my pocket (again!) and bought the Garmin Etrex 20. If you check around t’interweb it’s possible to buy mapping at sensible prices – take a look at TalkyToaster for example.
The Garmin performs, is reliable and has excellent battery life. I’m afraid the SatMap Active 10 Plus simply isn’t a patch on the Garmin in these departments. I can’t comment on Garmin’s customer service, I haven’t had cause to contact them.
To counter it’s shortcomings the SatMap has a much larger display (and of course mine has 1:10k, 1:25k and 1:50k mapping) than the Etrex 20, and zooming and panning around the map display are both quicker and more responsive on the SatMap.
I feel I’ve made an expensive mistake in buying the SatMap Active 10 Plus – I wish I’d have bought the Etrex20 in the first place. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I would be very interested to receive comments on this review. So please, comment away!