Janet Christie: Is it time to ditch the GPS?

I’ve had it with GPS. It’s driving me mad. Time to break out the Ordnance Survey paper maps instead.

GPS can lead you down long and winding roads.
GPS can lead you down long and winding roads.

(And don’t get me started on the NHS vaccine passport app.)

Twice in as many weeks I’ve been led hither and yon by the GPS on my phone purely because of a misguided desire to keep up with technology rather than trust my own navigation skills, follow the signposts or take a look at the dog eared map guides that live on the floor of the car.

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First it was Auchterarder. I know where it is. I’ve been before, and in my head as I drive to visit a pal it’s either head for Stirling, go a bit further and turn right or head for Perth and turn left’. But no, the GPS has other ideas and leads me off the motorway onto minor roads through a bucolic paradise where fittingly, wild geese pause on their journey south. It’s beautiful and all that, but it’s not where I want to go. I know we’ve got to keep up with the times but the return journey sees me following my nose, heading for Stirling then South. Home in half the time.

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Next it was the Yorkshire Dales. A simple journey to remember an uncle and scatter his ashes on his home turf.

This time the GPS led me and co-driver Middle Child away from the direct, and nicely tarmacked main road (thank you John Loudon McAdam of Moffat, we had saluted you when we were detoured there earlier in the journey) and directed us up a tiny cobbled lane at the back of a village, literally up hill and down dale. Admittedly we saw some of the country’s most stunning scenery but its charm faded along with the light and the batteries on our phones. I know, we shouldn’t have played so many banging tunes back on on the M74.

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Doing a U-turn on roads a sheep-track wide between dry-stane dykes being impossible in the dark we continued across windblasted moors and by the time we passed Wuthering Heights for the second time I could have beaten Kate Bush at the wailing. Settling for humming a more melodious ‘Long and Winding Road’ we ultimately adopted the old school method of stopping and staring in various illuminated cottage windows to see if we recognised a cousin. Result. Eventually.

GPS? You’re dead to me. There’s no way Cathy would have ‘come home’ if she had to rely on technology.

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