Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Friday, 13 January 2012

A new toy

The weather leading up to Christmas was dire, to say the least. We escaped storm damage and power cuts but days on hills were few. A short trip on the 29 December to an anonymous little hill above Glen Eagles gave the usual mixture of rain, snow and strong winds with a brief glimpse of blue skies as below.  With the exception of yesterday January has been little better, although we did get our traditional day out on the 1st.

From Haunting Hill (1)
Looking towards Crieff

From Haunting Hill (2)
A few moments later.  The bad weather headed our way giving brief blizzard conditions

Another miserable and very cold day
The 'view' soon disappeared and heavy rain pushed westwards
Yesterday was one clear skies and a bitter wind but plans for a day out from Glen Devon were thwarted by a ‘road closed’ sign shortly after the Yetts o’ Muckhart. For several days fallen trees, supported only by other trees on the opposite side of the road, and downed power lines, spanned the A823. I’d driven underneath them several times the previous week, uneasily it has to be said, hoping they’d been declared safe! Presumably trees were now being removed and power lines fixed. Our only option was a drive to Dollar to do the King’s Seat – Tarmangie – Whitewisp circuit – a pleasant little outing.

Stuc 'a Chroin and Ben Vorlich
Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorlich

I’d prepared our route from Glen Devon on Memory-Map and downloaded it to a new toy, Satmap 10, just to see how well it all worked. Thwarted (again) by the change of plan I was able to utilise one of the features that had attracted me to Satmap in the first place -  the ability to plan a route on the device itself.  It only took minutes to do this in the car and off we went.

Now, I'm not really into 'gadgets' - I don't have a Smart phone for example [Edit: I do now!] though I've talked of buying one and the reasons against doing so for almost a year now. (Lynne says 'watch this space' because it's a dangerous sign when I talk so much about not buying something, particularly when my present basic mobile 'doesn't owe me anything' -  see Byeways for a persuasive post on the subject) - and I’ve always preferred map and compass to GPS. I did buy the Garmin 12 in 1996 or thereabouts then hardly used it; then a basic Etrex a couple of years ago which has only been used occasionally.

The Satamap 10 seemed a different proposition, or so I convinced myself, but isn’t cheap when you add in the cost of buying the maps on SD cards. Luckily I came across the ‘bundle’ version, Satmap 10 Plus which includes 1:50 000 OSGB worth £203 and LiPol battery and charger, worth £40ish all for the basic price of the GPS unit. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise. Yesterday was its first day out and initial impressions were favourable, even if we were both half-frozen to death stopping regularly to work out how to use specific features (the Online Guide is easily the worst I’ve ever used). The other slight worry is the delicate connection for the LiPol battery and AA battery cradle – one has to be removed to accommodate the other. I wouldn’t like to try and change them on a hill so for me the LiPo will only be used for day trips from home, or where I can easily charge it if away, and Lithium Energizer batteries (with adequate re-supply) on a long walk.  I'm sure I'll enjoy using the Satmap, but you still won't find me on a hill without a map and compass!

Andrew Gannel Hill from the slopes of Tarmangie
We appeared to be about the only folk in the Ochils yesterday despite a fairly busy carpark at Castle Campbell and can only surmise that most were happy to stay low and enjoy the winter sunshine rather than embrace the strong cold winds on high.

As far as future plans are concerned, we've almost finished planning our West to East walk through Scotland for next May, a week ahead of the Challenge, and while most of the route is in our heads I'm sure it will find its way onto the Satmap. Plans are also afoot for trips north with the motorvan in March and April so 2012 looks like it's off to a good start.

Have a rewarding 2012 on your hills.


  1. I feel better about those soon to arrive new binoculars now.

    Our weather since new year could almost be described as 'extreme' but that would give the wrong impression. It's preferable to the endless damp grey conditions which often pass for winter down here but it has an almost unnatural feel to it. I think the countryside, wildlife, and gardens come to that, need properly defined seasons.

  2. Byeways - mutual support is vital when dealing with such weighty matters!

    Properly defined seasons do appear to be a thing of the past. I miss that.

  3. Curious. I recently got the same Satmap 10 bundle. Haven't really used it yet. I'll be interested to see how you get on, though.

  4. Martin - I'll let you know. One thing to do straight away though is make a backup of the map on another SD card. (See 'tips' at the end of the online Guide). So far I like it and using the .gpx file exchange on Satsync makes copying routes between the Active 10 and Memory-Map easy. Gloriously cold, clear day here so off out. Cheers.

  5. Hi Gibson,
    I have changed my battery to the cradle a couple of times and it is a pain. I bought a tweezer which was made to remove mini car fuses and this works a treat. You can get them from any good car shop like Halfords or similar.
    The 10 plus is not waterproof so be extra careful to minimise water ingress.
    Also when using the Li Pol battery i have noticed that the charge stays at high until it's almost dead and then it just runs down very rapidly. Work on 75% of quoted hours rather than battery level.
    Well that's my opinion for what it's worth.

  6. Hi Alan

    Many thanks for this. The guide claims it can be used in rain but is not submersible - I always assume the worst where electronic devices are concerened anyway.I did wonder about buying the ProSHIELD to give extra protection but it looks a little bulky.

    I use a tiny srewdriver (for spectacle screws) to ease the connector out but it is, as you say a real pain. The tweezers sound ideal so I'll get a pair. I like batteries that can be replaced easily so I'll use AA Lithium Energizers on long trips.

    Hope you're both enjoying NZ despite some trials and tribulations. Thanks again for sharing your experience with the Active 10 - much appreciated.

  7. You won't be disappointed with the Satmap Active 10.

    I've had mine since March 2009 and have used it frequently for both walking and mountain biking. It's really helped me get more enjoyment out of both activites.

    I hope you get plenty of enjoyment out of yours too!

    1. Hi Richard

      Thanks Richard.

      I'm thoroughly enjoying using it and despite my comment about the online manualit is in fact very easy to use.