What you see is what you get

Six of the best road maps.

With Britain's landscape in a constant state of flux, keeping up with change is a demanding task. The AA, as map publishers, employs a team of people whose job is to travel around the country and monitor all alterations, major and minor: new roads, widened carriageways, even different pub names. About 3,000 revisions are made every year to existing AA titles. Michelin, similarly, has a group of cartographers on the move - as have other map publishers.

It certainly makes sense, therefore, to buy a new atlas about once every two years. But which one to choose? Does detail impinge on clarity, are size and scale more important than quick readability? You can spend as little as pounds 1.99 and buy a pocket-size Michelin Mini-Atlas, or blow pounds 20 on a plushly-bound hardback AA atlas that is worthy of a place on a library shelf rather than the backseat of a car. Between these extremes lies a multitude of map-books. We selected six of the most widely available - in garages and bookshops - and have assessed them here (shown in 100 per cent scale), in ascending order of price.

The Sun Road Atlas Britain 1995, pounds 3.99. This is a cheap print run (slightly out of register, too) of a familiar Bartholomew atlas, itself available in hardback for pounds l2.99.

Format: Stapled, 15 x 11in, 3 miles to the inch. Green tint all over, green primary routes, blue motorways.

Ease of use: Easy to follow, pages large enough to avoid excessive turning over, presentation could be brighter, page overlaps clearly marked.

Detail: Minor road shapes are rather approximate, but tourist attractions well marked, and shows heights and woodland. No key.

Extra features: Detailed central London map, but limited area. Detailed route planning maps.

Verdict: Basic atlas at a bargain price. Flimsy feel with thin paper, but a good buy if you feel you can live with the Sun logo in your car.

A-Z Great Britain Road Atlas 1995, pounds 6.95. An atlas from the publishers of the familiar city street maps, also available in hardback at pounds 9.95.

Format: Stapled, 151/2 x 101/2in, 4 miles to the inch. Very colourful, green primary routes, blue motorways.

Ease of use: Very small type for minor place names, populated areas are visually congested, dual carriageway intersections accurately depicted (the only atlas to do this), very clear overlaps, each page covers a large area.

Detail: Excellent, with a multitude of villages and places of interest, heights and woodland, good key.

Extra features: First-class London, Birmingham and Manchester approach maps, town, port, airport and Channel tunnel terminal plans, sparse route planner.

Verdict: Good value with lots of information, but rather hard to read in mid-journey.

Ordnance Survey Motoring Atlas 1995, pounds 6.99. Published by the people who actually do the land surveys in the first place.

Format: Squareback, 151/2 x 11in, 3 miles to the inch. Colour scheme is green and yellow dual carriageways, green primaries, crimson secondaries, blue motorways.

Ease of use: Clear type, good compromise between scale and page size, clear overlaps, rather heavy to handle.

Detail: Good on antiquities and rivers, cryptic on tourist attractions - gives symbols instead of names. Heights and woodland marked, good key.

Extra features: Has a reasonably good route planner with more city approach maps than the A-Z but less detail; includes town and Channel tunnel terminal plans, detailed central London map and also has a local radio frequency guide.

Verdict: Has an air of authority, but ultimately contains less useful detail than the A-Z publication.

Philip's 1995 Road Atlas Britain, pounds 8.99. A weighty tome that looks comprehensive.

Format: Spiral-bound, 15 x 11in, 3 miles to the inch. Thorough, with red and yellow primary routes (curiously), blue motorways.

Ease of use: Airy enough layout for easy assimilation mid-journey. Much the same page size/scale relationship as OS altas, clear, well-spaced typeface, pages fold flat and turn easily, heavy to handle, liable to get damaged if roughly treated. Overlaps not clear.

Detail: Excellent for tourist information but road numbers have no A and B prefixes. Heights and woodland shown, sparse key.

Extra features: Two sizes of route-planning maps, including parts of Ireland, weather forecast telephone map, city approach and town plans, Channel tunnel terminal maps.

Verdict: Copious detail and a large scale, plus peripheral features. Let down by lurid colours and invisible page overlaps.

Michelin Motoring Atlas Great Britain and Ireland 1995, pounds 9.95. Part of the Europe-wide Michelin mapping system.

Format: Spiral-bound, 12 x 9in, 4.75 miles to the inch. Looks a bit sparse and unconvincing, red and yellow motorways, red and white dual carriageways, red A-roads whether primary routes or not.

Ease of use: Small scale means that small page size is not a problem, pages lie flat but weight and construction could lead to damage long-term. Overlaps clear but intrusive. A snag is that many minor roads simply are not marked, yet there is no clear logic as to which ones qualify for inclusion.

Detail: Cryptic symbols abound. Heights and woodland make an appearance. Good key - and it needs one.

Extra features: Some town plans and city approach maps, complete set of Irish maps, Channel tunnel terminal, ferry routes map.

Verdict: Fails as a road atlas because it does not show enough roads.

AA Motorists Atlas Britain 1995, pounds 9.99. Also in hardback, pounds l7.99 or pounds 20, and in a larger page format but same scale, and minus town plans, from Granada Service Areas at pounds 5.99.

Format: Spiral-bound, 12 x 9in, 4 miles to the inch. Pleasant colours, dense information but not too difficult to follow thanks to clear type, green primary routes, blue motorways. Minor roads crisp and clear.

Ease of use: Very easy to follow despite smallish scale, because information presented in co-ordinated way. Clear page overlap, compact size makes for easy handling and pages lie flat, but durability problems of spiral binding apply here, too. Good key.

Details: Not best on place-names, but good for tourist information. National Parks and woodland are marked, but not heights.

Extra features: Reasonable route planner, restricted-access motorway junction guide, road sign chart, map of Ireland, central London street plan, excellent city plans.

Verdict: Best-looking and easiest to read.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Project Coordinator

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Embedded Linux Engineer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

    Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

    £50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz