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+2 votes

So, there has been some changes regarding the United Kingdom polygons lately. Some users got happy about the changes, some quite the opposite of that. Most of those that were happy probably geocached more outside England than the others. The polygons for Scotland for example was very old and quite broken.

The update of the polygons was taken from Openstreetmap. That's our usual source for this. For all other countries we use "administrative borders", but that doesn't seem acceptable for England (by her citizens). Personally we (Project-GC) believe it's more correct since that's how it is for all other countries.

One of the reasons we got some bashing was just because we changed things. Not the end result or the lost data before that. We can understand that it's frustrating to "lose" some logged counties and similar. It has not been our intention, but the data for United Kingdom was broken, we rather fixed it then.

We have heard things like administrative borders changes, and yes they do. They do so for other countries as well, not extremely often though, and the changes normally aren't huge. It's hard to avoid changes, I don't think anyone feels that it's correct to treat USA as provinces of Spain, France and England? Maps do change.

Regardless. The user ShammyLevva has helped us building polygons that should work for all of United Kingdom, based on the ceremonial borders in England. This has been imported in our system in a way where they are not used yet, we have just tested the technical complications.

A good side-effect of these new polygons is that we also have polygons for regions that matches

So, now we ask the community. Do you want these new polygons?

PS! There may be some minor adjustments if we choose to use these. They are not 100% reviewed to be correct yet.


When the result of the poll was over 50 to 1 we started to migrate to the new polygon data. It's already partly in place. The servers will now spend the whole night calculating which county all the geocaches exists in with the new data. Meanwhile there can be mid-way effects on some maps.

in Miscellaneous by magma1447 (Admin) (232k points)
edited by magma1447 (Admin)
Whilst I'd argue that technically the administrative regions/unitary authorities are more correct I have to go that most people actually expect 'Counties'. From the challenges I've looked at they either don't specify what they mean, loosely use the term county, or explicitly state that they should be the ceremonial counties. Using the ceremonial counties would allow checkers to be written which currently are very hard. If the vote goes against switching to ceremonial counties can I request that the data is made available to the checker system one way or the other (new field, api call to classify a cache etc).

Big thanks to ShammyLevva for doing the hard work of getting the ceremonial data into a usable form. And thanks (and appologies) to Ganja for putting the effort into trying to resolve it even though ultimately its an argument only interesting to the british.
Well written post mole125. The checker API has a method for retrieving json files from server side. I can make the json files available if needed.

They are still hard to use I assume, but lillfiluren wrote the generic polygon checker that handles polygon files (not sure if it's geojson or something else). So it is possible, and the code can be borrowed from there.

Regardless, I am 95% certain that the vote result will show that we should switch.
I voted "new counties" but would suggest (a) that the city of London should not be treated as a separate county - it has a level of independence for historical reasons but doesn't usually appear in county lists (b) that while this is now right for England, we need to do the same exercise for Scotland and Wales (which remain on administrative regions rather than the historic counties).
I thoroughly agree with crb11 about Scotland and Wales; you have some tiny Scottish islands currently as counties. These could do with tidying too.
I haven't checked what's actually in place in Scotland or Wales (not having cached in either) and would want to defer to those living there as to what borders seem natural, but the 33 shires of Scotland and 13 historic counties of Wales that were in place before the 1974 reforms seem like a good starting point for discussion to me.
Adamandbeckychater - The tiny Scottish islands was a bug in the Open Street Map data this has been fixed in this import.

CRB11 - Unfortunately there aren't boundaries available on Open Street Map for those historic boundaries for Scotland and Wales thus using the current boundaries is at least better than boundaries abolished 21 years ago in 1995. The data for Scotland is correct and represents the current 32 county areas as best as data is available on Open Street Map. Wales I'm open to tweaking given better info from Welsh users. It must however be based on data that exists in Open Street Map.

CRB11 - City of London has always been a ceremonial county its one of the oldest ones having its own Lord Leiutenant and Mayor (separate from Boris as Mayor of London). The counties used are the ones defined in the website I listed as the ones defined in the current UK legislation defining ceremonial counties.

Trying to reverse engineer ancient counties doesn't actually work too well as they often split modern towns. Thus using the current UK legislation which is after all the same as what Groundspeak have used (see their map I linked) makes sense.
I understand the data problem: a shame that we have to have different standards across the UK. Maybe it could be revisited if the data becomes available in the future.
Actually it is consistent across the UK. England is proposed to change to CURRENT ceremonial counties, just as Scotland and Wales are proposed to change to CURRENT counties.

The old historical counties in England don't actually work properly anymore either as towns particularly have grown beyond old boundaries. The current ceremonial counties across Great Britian take account of this growth of towns and are tweaked accordingly.
I'd like to see a written list of counties/areas also.
Check the posts below. I've written out a list of the Groundspeak regions and the counties.
I really like the new UK region and county maps. However, there seems to be an inconsistency in the Southeast England region.  I have logged caches in both Kent and East Sussex.  However, the map is showing my Southeast England region as white, not green.
South West England is showing the same inconsistency.  I have logged caches in Somerset county, but my Southwest England region is white on the map.
There was a typo in the region names on the first load. For some reason Groundspeak call the regions South East England and South West England whereas in the north they call them Northeast England and Northwest England. I'd foolishly gone with a consistent naming pattern not knowing Groundspeak was inconsistent.

The maps were updated with this issue fixed on Monday so it takes a bit of time for the update to filter through to all caches in an area and then to refresh everyone's stats. I've just looked and it shows the refreshed data for your account now. IE: all of the south is showing green for you. It looks like you've only got South Wales and Eastern England to do.

Hope this helps.
That does help, thanks, but the update hasn't made its way into my maps yet which are still white in those regions. I guess I will keep waiting.

And to repeat: I really like the new regions and county definitions. I hope they stay stable forevermore :)
Yup I've just been in an email exchange with ganja1447 to see if that's just a cached data thing (cached as in stored not as in cache container :) ) or a config thing.

Edit: note it's correct on the dynamic map reports under the tools menu. Map regions and Map counties. It's just the profile stats maps that have yet to update.

5 Answers

+4 votes

The map will end up being the same as this Groundspeak one

The ceremonial counties are based on current UK legislation as per this information:

The list of Regions and Counties would get rid of the small individual council areas and become:

  • East Midlands
    • Derbyshire
    • Leicestershire
    • Lincolnshire
    • Nottinghamshire
    • Northamptonshire
    • Rutland
  • Eastern England
    • Bedfordshire
    • Cambridgeshire
    • Essex
    • Hertfordshire
    • Norfolk
    • Suffolk
  • London
    • City of London
    • Greater London
  • Northeast England
    • County Durham
    • Northumberland
    • Tyne and Wear
  • Northwest England
    • Cheshire
    • Cumbria
    • Greater Manchester
    • Lancashire
    • Merseyside
  • Southeast England
    • East Sussex
    • Kent
    • Surrey
    • West Sussex
  • Southern England
    • Berkshire
    • Buckinghamshire
    • Dorset
    • Gloucestershire
    • Hampshire
    • Isle of Wight
    • Oxfordshire
    • Wiltshire
  • South West England
    • City of Bristol
    • Cornwall
    • Devon
    • Someret
  • West Midlands
    • Herefordshire
    • Shropshire
    • Staffordshire
    • Warwickshire
    • West Midlands
    • Worcestershire
  • Yorkshire
    • East Riding of Yorkshire
    • North Yorkshire
    • South Yorkshire
    • West Yorkshire
by ShammyLevva (Expert) (8.3k points)
I can see how it's confusing as that Wikipedia article says the ceremonial counties have been abolished in favour of the administrative boundaries. What it doesn't mention is that although they have no legal meaning, we still use the county names to specify places, if we see the word county, we still expect to see these counties.
+2 votes
This is perfect. The Ceremonial Counties (and regions!) are what UK users have been wanting for ages now. No-one in the UK uses the word 'counties' to mean administrative areas.

So I've voted yes to the switch, with the regions as a nice bonus too. :)
by Paperballpark (11.5k points)
+1 vote
The big thing for me will be the introduction of regions, though the use of ceremonial counties would be better than the administrative divisions we have at present. Well done to Shmmylevva for mapping this.
by Optimist on the run (Expert) (18.5k points)
+1 vote

Can a Welsh user please clarify what the expected Welsh counties would be. In the current Project-GC list they are:

  • Northern Wales
    • Isle of Anglesey
    • Gwynedd
    • Conwy
    • Denbighshire
    • Flintshire
    • Wrexham
  • Southern Wales
    • Powys
    • Ceredigion
    • Pembrokeshire
    • Carmathenshire
    • Swansea
    • Neath Port Talbot
    • Bridgend
    • Rhondda Cynon Taf
    • Merthyr Tydfil
    • Blaenau Gwent
    • Caerphilly
    • Torfaen
    • Vale of Glamorgan
    • Cardiff
    • Newport
    • Monmouthshire

I suspect some of the small southern Wales areas aren't really counties? I need some info from informed Welsh users.

by ShammyLevva (Expert) (8.3k points)
Not Welsh but we visit there often :) I think that's a good list to use, it's the same as this article It does include unitary authorities, however, so maybe a better list is the one in this article
I'm not keen on using the historical counties - who uses Radnorshire nowadays? - but may be an alternative.
Hmm reading the article it appears that those are analogous with the Scottish "regions" that were in use 1974-1996, ie: abolished 20 years ago.
Reading the preserved counties it does look they may be equivalent to the cermonial counties of england - the boundaries are still being maintained/updated ("The Assembly accepted these proposals such that from 2 April 2003 each preserved county now encompasses between one and five whole local government areas. The boundary between Mid Glamorgan and Powys was further modified on 1 April 2010 to reflect the 2009 local government boundary changes in the Vaynor area.") it also looks like it is easy to generate the polygons for them by merging together the corresponding administrative regions which make up each of them. I agree getting some input from the welsh would be a good plan though..
If the Welsh users would like the preserved counties of Wales as their counties. I've already created the polygons for that and its just a matter of passing them to ganja1447.
I put up a vote on the Facebook Geocahing UK group and overwhelmingly the support was for the Welsh modern administrative counties the same as Scotland. So it seems it's just the English that hanker for the past, although I suspect we all knew that was the case anyway ;) ;)
0 votes
As the first people to complete every "county" in both the UK and Ireland (according to your maps)  last August, we have quite a vested interest in this. I agree that the counties should match the traditional counties, eg those used by mygeocachingprofile too (their choices of borders seem well chosen). Having those new Scottish areas appear recently was quite a shock, I was already planning trips to recomplete our map, so a stable and logical set of counties would be great, although part of me secretly enjoyed visiting every unitary authority :)
by adamandbeckychater (150 points)
The old Scottish boundaries were an almightly mess and didn't in the least little bit represent any recognised Scottish county boundaries. What they were was a temporary set of boundaries in use for an extremely short period from 1974-1995. When those "regions" of Scotland were abolished in 1995 (5 years before geocaching even started) they were replaced by "modern" counties that took account of growth of new towns. This is what is now in use on Project-GC.

MyGeocachingprofile sadly uses the 21 year old obsolete Scottish regions that make no sense. It does seem to use decent English regions though. Wales I'm unsure of and await a Welsh user giving info on how best to treat Wales. I'm assuming some of the smaller south Wales "areas" should be amalgamated to form proper counties.

NB. A bug on Open Street Map at time of import meant several tiny islands were erroneously treated as counties.
Thank you for the reply. My main issue was those little islands, so knowing they were a bug and are now fixed is quite a relief. Given what I now know, I'm happy that, as you say, both Wales and Scotland are now much more accurately represented. I quite liked having the unitary authorities represented, having your map being more work to complete led to some epic road trips last August to get the last few, but I can also see the positives of the more simple traditional counties in the proposed new version.
I still see those islands, e.g. Lambs Holm and Glims Holm, is the change not live yet or are they still in the data? I'm fairly sure they're not counties. Also, you have the Isle of Lewis as a separate county, when in fact it's just part ofNa h-Eileanan Siar.
Change isn't live yet - this vote is about whether to adopt the change and fix those issues :)

All of the islands that are in error are fixed in new data.
Ah okay, thank you, I'll stop going on then. I just want to be back to 100% map completed asap :)
Map should be refreshed now adamandbeckychater. You need to come up and visit me in Aberdeen I see, and the Central Belt of Scotland. Wales awaits Welsh users giving a verdict on boundaries so may yet change.