Ordnance Survey poster celebrates 70 years of National Parks

  • Contributor information: CNP

3 March 2019

Our friends at Ordnance Survey get creative when joining in the 70th anniversary celebrations. Perfect for Discover National Parks fortnight. Reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey.

It’s 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that began the family of National Parks in Great Britain, and our GeoDataViz team have created a stunning poster to showcase the varied landscapes of our 15 beautiful National Parks.



Covering a combined area of 23,138 km2 (that’s around 10% of Great Britain and an area slightly larger than Wales) the National Parks offer us a stunning variety of landscapes to explore. With two parks in Scotland, three in Wales and ten in England, they’re accessible to many of us, no matter where we live.

National Parks fortnight kicks off on 6 April, so what better time to be inspired to visit one, and try out some of the 61,000 km of paths to follow

Creating a poster of Britain’s National Parks

Joe Harrison in our GeoDataViz team created the beautiful artwork, building on his experience of creating the Great Britain’s islands poster last year. The poster was produced using a variety of software, including PostGIS, ArcMap, Blender, QGIS and Adobe Photoshop. We used a range of our data to showcase the National Parks, including OS Terrain 5, OS Open Zoomstack and OS MasterMap Topography Layer.

Joe’s process for creating the National Park images was inspired by Daniel Huffman at SomethingAboutMaps. It contains a step-by-step guide on how to create shaded relief in Blender. The steps were:

  • Clip the OS Terrain 5 raster to OS Open Zoomstack national park polygons using PostGIS. This helps us show the heights of the parks.
  • Process the OS Terrain 5 raster using ArcMap.
  • Generate hillshades from the processed Terrain 5 raster using Blender, to create the 3D surface of the parks.
  • Create terrain style with OS Terrain 5 and surface water from OS MasterMap Topography Layer using QGIS.
  • Compile the terrain styles and hillshades with Adobe Photoshop.

Joe gave each park a 3D look and feel – this is the Brecon Beacons

The colour scheme was inspired by historic OS One Inch Tourist Maps and other older, more traditional maps that use natural colour palettes. It was a huge amount of work for Joe and a real labour of love to create each National Park, you can use our zoomed in images to appreciate the detail in each image.

Once each National Park was finished, it was a matter of lining each one up for the poster. The parks are ordered by the year they were created, from the Peak District in 1951 down to the South Downs in 2010.

By Gemma Nelson, 

Social media manager for Ordnance Survey

More information on Britain’s National Parks poster including how to buy it, the statistics Joe used to compile the poster and the ideas for Discover National Parks fortnight click here.