Map Printing - Keith Vranch with KBA machine

From letterpress to map printing – 40 years in the printing industry

An interview with a map printer

Keith Vranch - map printing at Dennis MapsWe have some remarkably skilled people here at Dennis Maps, some of whom have worked in the business for many years and seen dramatic changes in book and map printing.

Keith Vranch joined Butler & Tanner straight out of school in 1974, when he was 16 years old. He was the last letterpress apprentice to be taken on, and started as a minder operator.

He recalls his training and the developments in book and map printing technology:

I was fortunate to get the job as I had gone for a job in plate making but didn’t get it. I phoned a couple of months later to ask for some feedback, and they asked me to come in to interview for the letterpress role.

It was a 5 year apprenticeship and I worked 8am to 5pm. Half way through, the letterpress department was phased out and I was offered a position within the litho printing department, so my apprenticeship changed to that.

I was earning about £9 per week when I started, plus £1.50 per week for expenses. I kept my Sunday paper round as well for the first year! I spent 40 hours a week at Radstock College, and college holidays in the factory.

The second year I was on block release at Brunel College in Bristol. The course was structured as one month at Brunel, then two to three months in the factory.

When I started on the letterpress machine, we were printing books. Mainly medical and text books, always in a large format sheet size.

Keith Vranch - map printingOn the letterpress printing machine, I would spend all day ‘making ready’, adding overlays, underlays etc to get the printed image looking just right, and then print it the next day. So, it was one day to make ready and one morning to print at a speed of 1,200 sheets per hour.

In the letterpress process, even a tiny speck of dust would cause the letters to rise and make the text print unevenly. Each individual page would need to be set manually. On a 2,000 run, we were given 100 sheets of paper as overs. If we used more than the 100 sheets, we were asked why.

When I moved to offset litho, it was a big leap because the speed of the machine was now around 3,000 sheets per hour. But there definitely wasn’t as much skill involved in the offset process as there was on the letterpress.

I was only on the monochrome offset machine for 2 weeks and then I was moved to the two-colour machine. It was the first time I had printed in more than one colour outside of college.

Then in the early 90’s we moved to four-colour printing on the Roland 800 7b machine. We had four colours printing in the one go and it was a whole new world for us.

Keith Vranch - map printing on KBA printing machineIn 1996/97 I moved on to the KBA press. I spent a lot of time on KBA 4 from 2002. By the end of Butler & Tanner in 2008 there were 6 KBA’s running 24 hours five days a week.

The Heidelberg XL162 was installed at Butler, Tanner & Dennis in 2011, and was 30 metres long. The ‘make ready’ was only two or three minutes and it would print 14,000 sheets in an hour. It was used for both book and map printing, and the quality was revolutionary.

It was so automated that the skill level required was much less, but you still needed technical skills as you had to use the computer that controlled every operation of the machine.

It’s all map printing now at Dennis Maps, we don’t print any books. I am running a large format KBA press printing in 6 colours. A huge change from the old Butler & Tanner days of 40 years ago and printing books in one colour on a letterpress flat-bed machine.

Creating custom made maps

Custom Made Maps for Christmas

Custom Made maps - the ideal Christmas gift

Examples of OS custom made maps

We don’t want to alarm you, but now that Bonfire Night is over, Christmas is looming on the horizon. Have you done any gift shopping yet? Or are you still pondering on the perfect present for each of your relations and friends, and wondering how much it will all cost?

If so you will appreciate the results of a survey carried out last year by Ordnance Survey. It found that 9 out of 10 people in Britain believe the time and effort that’s gone into finding them a present is more important than the cost.

Moreover a third of the respondents said they would rather have a personal gift than the standard offerings of toiletries, underwear or chocolate, or even something expensive.

Unique and personalised maps

That’s where we might be able to help you out with a unique gift suggestion. Every year in the run-up to Christmas the map-making elves at Dennis Maps are kept extra busy producing beautiful Ordnance Survey (OS) Custom Made maps.

Yes, it’s possible to buy a map that’s completely personalised, of a place and area that has a special meaning for you and your loved ones, printed here at Dennis Maps in Frome on our state-of-the art printing equipment.

For example, it could be a map centred on your home, your favourite holiday destination, where your family is from, where you got engaged, or any number of other significant locations.

How to create your very own Custom Made map:

  1. Go to the OS Custom Made maps page and type in your selected location.Creating custom made maps
  2. Choose which scale you would like - the Explorer range is 1:25 000 and shows 20km x 20 km. The Landranger series has less detail and covers 40 km x 40 km.
  3. Click and drag to centre your map on your chosen spot.
  4. Now select the type of map you’d like. It can be a traditional folded map you can take out and about, a flat rolled map you can frame yourself, or one that comes ready-framed.
  5. Enter the title and subtitle for your Custom Made map. This will appear as five lines of text printed on the cover (folded maps only) and also above the map legend, or key, on the right-hand side.
  6. And if you’re buying a folded map, you also get to personalise the cover image. OS have a selection of stock images to choose from, or you can download your own photo, and even create your own collage of memories from a number of your own images.
  7. If you’ve chosen a flat paper map it will be hand mounted and framed for you with a real wood frame, and glazed with an acrylic that’s lighter and more durable then glass.

Hanging a custom made mapsCanvas maps are sold framed or unframed, and all are delivered in well-padded boxes.

You can find dimensions and more details about each stage of ordering your map on the OS site.

With prices starting from £16.99 and free delivery it’s not going to take much time or money this year to solve your gift buying dilemmas. And your friends and relatives will be delighted with a truly unique and personalised gift that will recall many happy memories or inspire future adventures.

There will be some great offers available on Custom Made maps this Christmas so don’t miss out. 

Keep checking on our Twitter account by following @Dennis_Maps for the latest offers.

Have fun making your own Custom Made map. We look forward to printing yours soon!

Great British Adventure Map Isles of Scilly

The Great British Adventure Map

Are you ready for The Great British Adventure Map?

Great British Adventure MapDo you have a bucket list of places to visit in the UK? Or do you need some suggestions to help you discover more of the varied landscapes around these islands?

Whether you know where you’re going, or you need some ideas, Dennis Maps have printed the perfect map for you!

We proudly present the Great British Adventure Map by Marvellous Maps, or to give it its full and splendid title - Strumpshaw, Tincleton & Giggleswick’s Joyously Busy Great British Adventure Map.

We have no doubt you will be motivated to do exactly what it urges, ‘Get inspired, get outside and get home in time for tea and medals.’

Top 50 British Adventures

To give you just a taste, here are some examples of featured destinations to start you off. These are just a few of the Top 50 British Adventures illustrated on the front face of the map, categorised by environment:

Great Islands - The Small Isles

Great British Adventure Map - Skye

Island hoppers should head to Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna, an archipelago in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, south of Skye. Visit to see thousands of breeding seabirds, and enjoy beautiful beaches, green meadows and a Victorian castle. Although close together, each island is different and unique.

Great Waterways - Llangollen Canal & Dee Valley

Messing about on the water for all. Thrill seekers will appreciate the white water rafting on the Dee, or those seeking a more sedate experience can take a boat trip across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the world's highest waterway. 38 metres high, it’s known as ‘the stream in the sky’ and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Great Mountains & Hills - the Chilterns

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty between London and Oxford, so a perfect country day trip for city residents and visitors alike. Home of the Burnham Beeches, one of the best examples of ancient woodland to be found in Britain. If it’s wet, seek shelter in historic houses or take a behind-the-scenes studio tour of the making of the Harry Potter film series.

Great Beaches - Isles of Scilly

Great British Adventure Map Isles of Scilly

Beach babes need only travel 28 miles from Land’s End to find silky white sand and clear blue and green seas. You’ll feel you’ve gone back to a simpler time that no longer exists anywhere else in the UK. There are five inhabited islands and many others that can be explored by boat.

Great Wild Places - the Fens

A trip into the unknown for most people, this is an area in eastern England of huge skies and flat fields edged by straight dykes. This low-lying land, some actually below sea level, lies around the Wash and was susceptible to flooding, but modern drainage means it is a fertile region well-known for grain and vegetable growing.

The reverse of The Great British Adventure Map

The back of the map is jampacked with quirky facts, random journeys, great views, and useful things you should know when planning your great adventure.

You can find numerous suggestions for ideal locations for energetic outdoor activities like windsurfing, snowboarding and snorkelling. Don’t worry if you prefer more gentle pursuits - you can also find the best places for walking, watching wildlife and stargazing.

A handy travel guide explains how to reach your destination, how long it takes by car, train etc. And be sure to check the calendar of events around the country to make sure you don’t miss must-sees like the Wife Carrying Race in Surrey in March, or July’s World Snail Racing Championship in Norfolk.

Buy The Great British Adventure Map

You can buy The Great British Adventure Map folded or ready framed on the Marvellous Maps website or perhaps be lucky enough to win a copy here:

From this same page you can also access a whole range of inspiring content with a dedicated page for each of the top 50 adventure locations. Great pictures, videos, articles, podcasts and much more that bring each place to life and are the perfect accompaniment to the map.

ST&G’s Great British Adventure Map is part of a growing series of maps celebrating all that’s great about Britain for adventurers of all kinds, real or armchair-based. Extensively researched by the well-travelled Westcountry-based Marvellous Maps team, and designed with a good dollop of humour to entertain and inspire, they’re far from your typical maps.

Have a look now, and start planning - ‘Glorious adventures await!’

Mountains South Georgia - Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Crossing of South Georgia

The Map of the Shackleton Crossing

Map of Start and Finish points for Shackleton's crossingThis map was inspired by the heroic crossing of South Georgia by Sir Ernest Shackleton to rescue his fellow explorers.

South Georgia, with the South Sandwich Islands, is a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. It lies 800 miles southeast of the Falkland Islands, a ruggedly beautiful landscape permanently covered with ice over more than half of its extent.

The only residents of the island are two British Government Officers and the British Antarctic Survey staff who man two research stations.

Captain James Cook made the first landing on South Georgia in 1775, and claimed the territory for King George III. Seal hunting for furs began soon afterwards, followed by whaling activities until the mid-twentieth century.

Due to rapidly changing environmental conditions mapping is vital for the island, and assists in assessing glacier change. Dennis Maps printed the latest map, which was published by British Antarctic Survey for the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The Shackleton Crossing

This map shows both the island, and on the reverse, the famous Shackleton Crossing of 1916. Sir Ernest Shackleton had taken part in Captain Scott’s South Pole expeditions, and was now attempting to cross Antarctica from sea to sea via the Pole.

Disaster strikes

His ship Endurance was trapped by pack ice and crushed in the Weddell Sea. Taking to the lifeboats the crew were stranded on Elephant Island, 800 miles southwest of South Georgia. With five companions, Shackleton set off to find help, and landed at King Haakon Bay on South Georgia’s south coast.

Three men waited there while Shackleton and two others set off across the unknown interior to get help at the whaling stations at Stromness Bay on the other side of the island.They had enough provisions for three days, a length of rope, rudimentary equipment, and a sketch map.

A treacherous journey

Mountains South Georgia - Sir Ernest ShackletonThe map suggested they had only 17 miles to cover, but in their way were snowfields, glaciers, precipices and gullies. It was slow going through the knee-deep soft snow, and then they were faced with crossing the peaks of The Razorback. After several attempts they finally slid down using the coiled rope as a sledge.

Disoriented, they headed off in the wrong direction but realising their mistake changed course, and heard the steam whistle of one of the whaling stations calling men to work. But although they now had a clear destination there were still dangerous obstacles to overcome, including a lake in which one man sank to his waist.

Against all odds and despite several setbacks, they managed to reach Stromness, ‘a terrible trio of scarecrows’, eleven days after setting out.

The rescue

A boat was immediately sent to pick up their fellow crew members in King Haakon Bay, but it took more than three months to evacuate the men stranded on Elephant Island, due to the sea ice blocking the approaches to the island.

Sir Ernest Shackleton died of a heart attack in 1922 during a later expedition, while his ship was moored in South Georgia. At his wife’s request he was buried on the island.

Sir Ernest Shackleton - an inspiring leader

Map showing Start and Finish Points for Sir Ernest Shackleton's crossing of South GeorgiaUnlike Scott, who had gained a heroic reputation, he sank into obscurity until later in the century, when his role in leading a team in gruelling circumstances was recognised. ‘Scott for scientific method, Amundsen for speed and efficiency but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton’, said one of his contemporaries.

Looking at the map of the Shackleton Crossing provides a small insight into the extraordinary achievement of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions. Even today, with sophisticated maps drawn with the help of satellite images, technical clothing and specialist equipment, the journey is an obviously formidable and dangerous one.

Grid Reference system - map reading skills

Map Reading Skills - An Introduction

A beginners guide to map reading skills


Grid Reference system - map reading skills
© Crown Copyright 2018 OS 100050331

If you’ve decided it’s time to #GetOutside and explore, a good map is going to be your best friend. At Dennis Maps we print some wonderful maps, including the much-loved Ordnance Survey series covering the UK. Some basic map reading skills will help you to plan your adventures and stay on track when you’re out and about.

A map is a representation of the ground as seen from above, drawn to scale and including symbols that show features of the landscape and built environment.

OS Explorer maps - the orange Ordnance Survey (OS) Explorer maps are on a 1:25,000 scale, which means that one unit on the map represents 25,000 units on the ground. 4 cm on the map shows 1 kilometre, which allows for a lot of detail. Explorer maps are therefore ideal for walking and exploring.

OS Landranger maps - these are pink and have a scale of 1: 50,000, which means 1 kilometre on the ground is shown by only 2 cm on the map. So they are useful when you are covering more ground, in a car or on a road cycle.

All map symbols - Map Reading Skills
© Crown Copyright 2018 OS 100050331

Symbols - map symbols often look exactly like what they represent - a beer mug for a pub, or a blue ‘P’ for parking, for example. Every map has a legend or key at the side that explains in detail the different kinds of buildings, paths, roads, woodlands and boundaries.

Contour lines - the thin, wavy brown lines are contour lines that show the shape and height of the landscape - and do not appear on the ground! The map key tells you whether the contour lines are 5 or 10 metres apart. A shallow slope is depicted by contour lines that are far apart. When the lines are close together, there is a steep slope. Look along the lines and you will spot brown numbers that show the height of the ground above sea level.


Contours on a map - map reading skills
© Crown Copyright 2018 OS 100050331

With a little practice of your map reading skills you will be able to look at a 2D map and get a fair idea of what the landscape looks like in 3D, which is helpful in planning your outdoor exploration. The distance you aim to cover may not be long but it will still be arduous if the terrain is rugged.


Grid references - OS maps are criss-crossed with thin blue lines making up a grid. Each square on the grid is numbered from left to right and from bottom to top. The horizontal squares run from west to east and are called eastings. The vertical squares are numbered from south to north and are called northings.

These numbers are used to create grid references that identify a place on the map. Find your grid reference by running along the eastings at the bottom of the map until you find the number to the left of the square you’re in, and then up the northings on the side to the number at the bottom of that square. These two numbers, written in this order, provide your 4 figure grid reference.

Grid Reference system - map reading skills
© Crown Copyright 2018 OS 100050331

On the orange Explorer maps you will see that the squares are further divided into tenths along the edges of the map. You can precisely pinpoint a location such as a building with a 6 figure grid reference. To do this you look at the square and estimate how many tenths the location lies along the line. Then how many tenths from the bottom. Add these numbers to your grid reference after the easting and northing.

In addition to using your map reading skills on the paper folded maps you can also access Explorer and Landranger maps on your mobile, tablet and desktop. Aerial imagery provides a 3D view and brings the map to life, and an Augmented Reality feature labels interesting places within the landscape to help you explore.

A 7 day free trial is available at,-2.21548,7

Detail of London National Park City map

London National Park City Map

Hot off the press - the new London National Park City map

Detail of London National Park City mapWe love our work here at Dennis Maps and we’re very proud of one of our recent achievements, the printing of the new London National Park City map. It’s a large-format, folded map, printed on the best stock on the same press as the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps, using bright Pantone inks.

Social enterprise Urban Good, which works to improve the urban environment, raised money for the project through crowdfunding. They collaborated with Ordnance Survey and Greenspace Information for Greater London to create a beautiful map that would inspire Londoners to get out and enjoy their natural surroundings.

You may have seen the map on BBC Countryfile’s special Cities episode, which featured Woodberry Wetlands, a wildlife haven just a stone’s throw from the tower blocks of Stoke Newington.

If your impression of London is that it’s a concrete jungle packed with buildings and roads, thronged with people and congested with traffic, you’ll be surprised to learn that 49.5% of London is estimated to be green and blue space! That includes public parks and woodland, playing fields, front and back gardens, reservoirs, rivers, canals and ponds.

As we pointed out in our #GetOutside post, you don’t have to drive miles to the countryside to have an adventure outdoors. The London National Park City map reveals the urban landscape, showing where you can walk, sail and play many kinds of sports.

London National Park City map - ready to be foldedYou’ll see at once that this isn’t anything like the London maps you’re used to looking at, as the focus is not on the streets and the famous landmarks. What is immediately striking is the sheer amount of green.

You’ll quickly get your eye in, and start to spot the many walks and outside activities highlighted in fluorescent orange. Then you’ll notice the familiar circular symbols for tube and railway stations, and you will easily be able to plan the start and end of your adventure near public transport.

Turn over the London National Park City map, and on the reverse you’ll find a giant atlas of London packed with fascinating facts about its parkland, woodland, rivers, hills and foxes (there may now be as many as 10,000 of these creatures living in the city).

Plus twenty ideas for exploring London you may never have thought of or even knew were possible in the city - come face-to-face with a goat at a city farm, for example, pitch your tent at a campsite, or go white-water rafting on the River Lea!

In 2019 London will become the world’s first National Park City, taking inspiration from the UK’s rural National Parks, where natural beauty and wildlife are protected. A National City Park is a large urban area that is managed in order to enhance its living landscape and provide a better quality of life.

London National Park City map - hot off the press at Dennis MapsThe aim is for London to become greener, with more natural wild spaces, and reduced flood risk due to more planting. Also healthier, with better air quality, and with more experiences available outdoors, which will connect communities and improve standards of everyday life.

Revitalising the way the city relates to its natural environment is at the heart of creating the National Park City. Developers, clubs, community groups and individuals will be encouraged to join in with the ‘micro-greening’ of London, by creating living roofs, quiet green spaces and ‘greening’ their front gardens.

Thousands of copies of the London National Park City map have already been distributed. To get your own free copy (with a charge for postage) and find out how much green and blue surrounds your neighbourhood, visit the Urban Good website.

And you can keep up-to-date with the latest news and share the photos of your explorations of London’s great outdoors on social media by using the hashtag #NationalParkCity.

Saplings in the Heart of England Forest - Dennis Maps

The Heart of England Forest

Why Dennis Maps supports The Heart of England Forest Project

Saplings in the Heart of England Forest - Dennis MapsA fact you may not realise about Dennis Maps is that we are jointly owned by the Estate of Felix Dennis, operating for the benefit of the Heart of England Forest Registered Charity,  and Ordnance Survey, Britain’s mapping agency.

The Heart of England Forest is therefore a project very close to our hearts here at Dennis Maps. It was created by Felix Dennis, the self-made owner of Dennis Publishing, who began his colourful career selling copies of the underground magazine Oz on London’s Kings Road.

A natural entrepreneur, he pioneered computer and hobbyist magazine publishing in the UK, including the bestselling titles Maxim and The Week. He owned land in Warwickshire, and wanted to bring native broadleaf trees back to the local landscape and create woodland the public could enjoy, as well as provide an environment for wildlife.

Felix Dennis planted the first small wood near his home in Dorsington, Warwickshire, in 1996. His vision was to plant at least 300 acres each year to create a joined-up woodland.  The forest is mainly in South Warwickshire and stretches from the ancient Forest of Arden in Warwickshire to the edge of the Vale of Evesham. 

As a poet himself, Dennis no doubt appreciated that The Forest of Arden is the setting for Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, and in Elizabethan times covered a vast area that included the sites of modern-day Birmingham and Coventry.

The Heart of England Forest Registered Charity was set up in 2003, and 2017 was a record-breaking planting season, with 185,000 trees planted over 272 acres.

The majority of trees are English oak and ash, and also include birch, cherry, hornbeam, sweet chestnut and rowan. They are planted in a random pattern in woodland blocks separated by wide rides during the planting season of mid November to March.

Forest walks - The Heart of England Forest - Dennis MapsThe charity now manages more than 3600 acres, including both ancient woodland and new areas for planting. There are already two easy walking trails of 1.5 and 3.5 miles that have been mapped out by the Head Forester through new broadleaf forest.

There are plans for off-road bike trails, woodland play areas and camping and a cafe and arts centre. A programme of events runs throughout the summer, including open days at The Garden of Heroes and Villains, a private sculpture garden commissioned by Felix Dennis at Dorsington. Over 50 bronze sculptures are set in grounds that also contain a yew hedge maze, poetry garden and woodland walks.

All funds raised from the sale of tickets to events supports the work of the charity in planting trees, creating wildlife habitats, and woodland education.

There are many ways you can get involved in the project. As a Friend of the Heart of England Forest, making a monthly donation from as little as £3, as a business providing team-building experiences for your staff, as a teacher bringing pupils on a school visit, or as a hands-on volunteer

The Heart of England Forest - Dennis MapsTo give you some idea how much your donation helps, just £5 pays for enough seed to plant a 100m square wild flower meadow in the forest. £60 buys 40 tree coils and stakes that provide protection from rabbit and deer damage and support saplings as they grow into beautiful mature trees.

A visit to the Heart of England Forest is the perfect opportunity to #GetOutside and enjoy all the benefits of spending time in the natural world, breathing fresh air, and taking gentle exercise.

And a step back in time to an age when Britain was still covered in native broadleaf forest. For more information about visiting and ways to participate, please visit the Heart of England Forest website.

Compass and map #getoutside

#GetOutside: do more in the British Outdoors

What's the #GetOutside hash tag all about?

Forest with wooden bridge - #getoutside Dennis MapsOne of our major clients here at Dennis Maps is Ordnance Survey, whose maps have been guiding us around the British countryside for generations. Now the Ordnance Survey campaign #GetOutside is encouraging more of us to get out into the open air and take off for an adventure.

The physical and mental health benefits of being outside in nature are indisputable. Research by the University of Michigan revealed that it helps us to relax, increases attention span and improves memory. Stanford University found it reduces stress and symptoms of depression.

A study in Sweden discovered that hospital patients who could see trees from their window needed less medication and had much better recovery rates.

In Japan doctors prescribe ‘shinrin-yoku’ or forest bathing to patients. It’s been scientifically proved that spending time sitting and walking in the forest has many health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, boosting the immune system, increasing energy and reducing anxiety and anger.

We all instinctively know we feel better for a spell outside in nature, but how do you change habits and start to make time outdoors a regular feature of your life?

Compass and map #getoutside

The Beginner’s Guides on the Ordnance Survey website provide lots of ideas on where to go and what to do. Don’t worry if you’ve never done anything like this before, there are guides to help you learn to use a compass, understand map contour lines and map scales, read grid references and much more.

Plus there’s a huge range of suggestions for what to do in the great outdoors, from walking, cycling and climbing, to water sports and camping. Did you know that Dartmoor is the only place in England where you are legally allowed to wild camp?

There are 15 National Parks in Britain, from the rugged Cairngorms in Scotland to Exmoor in South West England, the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast in South Wales to the Norfolk Broads. They were designated back in the early 1950s to preserve their natural beauty and provide recreational opportunities for the public.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to drive for miles from an urban area to the countryside. The new OS Greenspace map layer is a new way to discover green spaces right on your doorstep.

Available in both the web and app versions of OS Maps, it shows you where to find parks, playing fields, allotments, and other publicly accessible places where you can reconnect with nature.

In every region of Britain #GetOutside Champions, experienced adventurers from the worlds of sport, TV and journalism, are offering their own advice on getting out and about. Ben Fogle, for example, who is well-known for his adventures here and abroad, including rowing the Atlantic, and presents TV programmes about the countryside.

Wheelchair race #getoutsideYou might think only the able-bodied can participate in #GetOutside. Think again! Mel Nicholls is an endurance wheelchair racer and paracyclist, and is currently training for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. She also enjoys sports like sea swimming and climbing, and wants to encourage anyone with a disability barrier to become active outside.

If you’re stuck for where to start there are plenty of ideas on the Adventures page, with routes graded according to difficulty with detailed directions and photos so you can see the terrain you’ll cover, in both town and country.

You can also find suggestions for activities suitable for all the family, places to visit and special events to attend. And don’t forget to follow #GetOutside on Instagram and Twitter to keep up-to-date with all the latest news and share your own tips and experiences.


Forest photo by Ahmad Kadhim on Unsplash

Compass photo by Daniil Silantev on Unsplash

Wheelchair photo by Ariel Pilotto on Unsplash

Laminated and encapsulated maps

Behind the Scenes at Dennis Maps

An interview with Steve Burry MD of Dennis Maps Ltd

Steve Burry, Dennis Maps by Mark Kempshall Photography & Wedding FilmDennis Maps Ltd is the largest map printer in the UK, producing more than 2.3million maps and charts each year from our facility in Frome, Somerset.

Steve Burry has been involved in printing all his working life, since starting his career in book printing at the age of 18. He’s been involved in map printing since 2010 and Managing Director of Dennis Maps Ltd since 2014. Here he describes the day-to day activity at the site:

What does a typical day look like at Dennis Maps, or is every day different?

We employ 28 people involved in various functions from admin to manufacturing.

Our highly skilled workforce have expertise in pre-press reproduction and design, printing (both traditional litho and digital) together with map finishing.

Map printing is a very specialised sector of printing, with very different requirements and expectations. For example, in terms of printing it is almost a case of ‘less is more’, where accuracy and clarity of extremely fine detail is more important than vibrant high intensity of colour and visual impact.

A typical day for Dennis Maps Ltd in terms of operations is very structured and follows a repeating and rhythmic pattern compared with the experience of many printers.

This is because the majority of our business is contractually based. So we know what demand will be and that we’ll have a certain amount of business every day, week, month and year.

This means that the factory operates to a constant beat, with several weekly orders in various stages of production at any one time. So we have a fairly continuous production flow, albeit punctuated between the individual orders.

What are the highlights in the calendar?

Ordnance SurveyThe business is perhaps surprisingly seasonal, with production levels rising through the first quarter of the year before reaching a peak from April through to September. I’m never happier than when we are in the midst of that production cycle!

Demand can reduce a bit in October, which allows us to draw breathe and prepare for the onslaught of the Christmas demand for the online Custom Made product that we produce for Ordnance Survey.

A monthly highlight is when we receive the monthly Key Performance Indicator (KPI) report from our largest contractual customer. Every aspect of our performance is analysed and measured against a set of extremely demanding KPIs. It’s always very satisfying to see that we are able to achieve and maintain such high standards of quality and service without deviation.

What’s the best part of the job?

My job is immensely satisfying, whether it’s maintaining the high levels of service to our existing clients, or meeting a new client and securing a first order from them. This always feels like a true moment of someone putting their trust in us.

Laminated and encapsulated maps

I enjoy seeing those new orders being produced, and take a real pleasure in looking at the intricacies of the different styles of cartographic design. Some of the maps that we print are almost works of art in their own right.

Of course, I also feel immensely proud to be leading this company and continuing the heritage of large format printing in Frome that stretches back 170 years.

What does the future hold, and what would be your dream achievement for Dennis Maps?

The future of printed maps is a very interesting question, with rumours of their death so far having been greatly exaggerated!

Undoubtedly the growth of digital delivery systems has reduced the demand for the printed product. But this does now seem to have stabilised and even increased slightly over the last few years.

Perhaps analogue paper and digital delivery have found a means of peaceful co-existence, at least for now. Nonetheless I do feel that demand pattern will change, as will the method by which the printed maps are produced and brought to market.

I personally believe that we will see an evolution towards a more on-demand, highly customised and digitally printed map product gather pace rapidly over the next few years. I intend for Dennis Maps to be at the forefront of that!