Glasgow Subcrawl Map

Created using the QGIS atlas generation feature. Does not contain all pubs, only the ones that were in Open Street Map at the time of creation.

Glasgow’s (in)famous sub-crawl, a mightily booze-sodden tour of the city via its subway. Participants buy an all-day Discovery ticket (£3.80) for the world’s third-oldest underground system (London is oldest, then Budapest) and get off for a drink at the nearest pub to all 15 stations on the six-and-a-half-mile circuit. By anyone’s standards, it is a stern test of constitution, and often used as a coming-of-age ceremony for graduating students.

The Guardian

Click on the image to see all stations in the flickr album.

1 of 15 - Hillhead

Mapping With WMS – SNH – John Muir Way

While Web Mapping Services (WMS) are becoming more common, their functionality is limited. They are easier to set up and run than a Web Feature Service (WFS) but are mainly useful for pre-rendered or background mapping.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) provide an extensive amount of datasets as WMS, through their Natural Spaces data store.

I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of result could be achieved using only WMS.

The result is a map of the John Muir Way, which is a long distance walking route in the central belt of Scotland. Apart from the way itself (it was not provided through the WMS), all data is obtained through the SNH WMS. Some styling could be done using the colorize and layer blending options in QGIS.

WMS Mapping

Scottish Independence Referendum 2014, Election Maps in QGIS

As everyone will no doubt have heard, Scotland voted in a referendum on independence on the 18/09/2014. The vote was no, but it presents an excellent opportunity to visualise election results.

Addition From Black

Addition From Black

We start with a black background since in RGB 0,0,0 is pitch black. Then we have 2 datasets with graduated colour scheme from completely transparent to completely red/blue. We use the percentages per council area to show the split, but using absolute counts could also work. These layers have the blending mode of “Addition” so they stack creating a purple map, with the redder areas voting no and the bluer areas voting yes.

Bar Graph

Bar Graph

This is more of a proof of concept than a truly functional map. The bars are created from the polygon centroids as a line symbol. The length of each bar plotted in meters from a calculation of the number of votes * 1000. I found out that this could be more easily created using the diagrams feature, which would produce the same result without the need for creating centroids and allow for more placement options.

Data Driven Opacity and Hue

Data Driven Opacity and Hue

Simple Red to Blue gradient from the percentage of yes votes. So from 30% to 70%, providing a nice gradient of the vote outcome. Above this was place a completely white layer, which had its alpha channel driven by a normalized total voters field. So Glasgow has a white 100% transparent feature over it, while Orkney has a 0% transparent feature. This symbolises the impact of each councils vote and the result.

Visiting the Great Polish Map of Scotland

The Great Polish Map of Scotland is located on the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel. Found near the borders town of Eddleston, just north of Peebles, or a 50 minute drive from Edinburgh. We visited it on our way north from England, which didn’t take use too much out of our way. It is free to visit so a must visit for all map enthusiasts in Scotland or Northern England.

Built between 1974 and 1979 to a scale of 1:10000 it is truly impressive to behold (50 m x 40 m on the ground). It is the largest known physical representation of a country and the largest outdoor relief map in the world (signpost at the map). Envisioned by Jan Tomasik, a Polish sergeant. He had been station in Galashiels during WW2, and added the Hotel Black Barony to his holdings in 1968, providing the map a location. The map itself was built in stages over a number of years, with Polish exchange students providing some of the manpower required.

The map is now maintained by Mapa Scotland. A charity who are now working on restoring the map. Parts of it are currently in poor condition, but overall it is an impressive site.

Also the grounds of the hotel in general are really beautiful, with a small glen running through the site, if visiting the Scottish Borders it would make a great place to stay: Barony Castle Hotel.

When arriving at the hotel there is a path just to the left of the castle:

Barony Castle Hotel

The path continues on the bridge over the glen:

Bridge to the map.

Finally the map, the white stick is the location of Ben Nevis. Looking from the east, so Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in the forefront:

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

View from the west, with the Western Isles in the forefront:

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

View from the south with the Scottish Borders and Dumfires and Galloway in the forefront:

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

Closeup of the details, the erosion on the edges is evident:

The Great Polish Map of Scotland


Video 1 and Video 2.


Bing Maps Bird’s eye view has a good image of the map.

Location on Google Maps.

For more information please visit:
Mapa Scotland
The Great Polish Map of Scotland on Wikipedia
BBC News

Public Transport Connections Between Scotland and the Rest of the UK

As a follow up to Scotland’s connections to outside the UK, here are the connections between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Missing is the bus network.

The train lines are drawn between stops on the route, so a direct train from London to Glasgow would be a straight line between the two terminus stations.

The real interesting thing is that there is a crosscountry train running from Glasgow to Penzance.


Data sources:

Flights –

Trains – GTFS Data Exchange

Ferries – OpenStreetmap

Land – NaturalEarth