Lonely Planet Writer

How these forgotten maps can help you find hidden gems in Scotland

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure without battling for space with fellow tourists, you could do worse than searching for the most remote parts of Scotland. That’s because, according to sales figures from the British Ordnance Survey, the ten of their least popular maps sold in Britain last year were all about areas of Scotland.

Highland cow and newborn calf in Glen Cassley, Sutherland, Scotland. Photo by Rachel Husband

They published the list on their blog, in the hope of persuading people to seek out these overlooked areas. “We believe it’s possible these hidden gems may well have been forsaken by walkers and ramblers heading for world-famous areas such as Snowdon, the Lakes and the Peak District,” they speculated.

The least popular map in the country covers Glen Cassley and Glen Oykel. Glen Cassley is just a mere 50 miles north of Inverness and is a hotspot for seeing wildlife like deer, leaping salmon, eagles and raptors. It has excellent fishing rivers and acres of blanket bog boasting unique flora.

Achness Falls, Glen Cassley. Photo by Rachel Husband

Despite its bleak beauty – or perhaps as a cause of it – there are no villages in the vicinity of Glen Cassley and it is regarded as one of the most sparsely populated areas Britain. In contrast, the Ordnance Survey’s most popular map which covers Snowdonia and Conwy Valley sells 180 times more copies.

The five least popular maps are as follows:

1. Glen Cassley and Glen Oykel
2. Peterhead and Fraserburgh
3. Kilmarnock and Irvine
4. Monadhliath Mountains North and Strathdearn
5. Cumnock and Dalmellington

You could take the road less travelled in Bourne, England. Photo by JLM Photography

If you don’t want to go as far north, the least popular map covering Wales was Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul & Cynwyl Elfed and the least popular for England is Bourne & Heckington. You can explore the full top ten lists here.

Of course, in the age of smartphones and GPS at everyone’s fingertips, one could argue that most people may be using technology to navigate these areas. However, in recent years many map companies – including Ordnance Survey – have noted a boost in sales following nearly a decade of decline.

Newcastle Emlyn Castle. Photo by Steffan Morgan

For walkers and general outdoor enthusiasts, paper maps, of course, have the in-depth mapping of trails, landscape features and places of interest. Many serious road trippers also use paper maps to plan their trip for a number of reasons; it offers a better ‘bigger picture’ of the area, you won’t be relying on battery or signal and many maps offer scenic alternative routes.