Free Topography Maps of Ireland for your Garmin nüvi or Handheld GPS

Yes, that's right, there are free topography maps (contour maps for hillwalking) from the excellent web site, Emerald

These maps are suitable for Garmin devices with cartography functions and while principally aimed at the hillwalking enthusiast with a Garmin handheld GPS, the maps can also be downloaded to some Garmin nüvis models for those of you who may only want to use topo maps on occassion. Just remember that your nüvi is not waterproof so it doesn't like rain or getting wet.

The maps are 'homemade' from a number of free online resources including:

  1. Mountain Views for summits 400m and up regularly updated by Simon Stewart - a site well worth visiting whether your are an occassional or fervent hillwalker.
  2. The Scottish Mountaineering Club for the geographical toponyms (i.e. place names).
  3. OpenStreetMap for lakes, rivers, roads, urban areas - a website that demonstrates what can be achieved with enthusiam.
  4. Megalithomania for megaliths and Irish antiquities - compiled by a man called 'Tom'.
  5. NASA - Contour lines are extracted from SRTM public available data with interpolation. This means the contours are not as accurate as OSI data however they are perfectly adequate for hillwalking.

The topography maps are licensed for personal use only under Creative Commons.

Take heed of the warning on Emerald Island - if you intend using your sat-nav or GPS for hillwalking, always make sure that you carry a map and compass, a GPS is only a secondary means of navigation.

Topo example 1   Topo example 2

Example screenshots taken from a Garmin nüvi 760.

How to Download and Install the Topography Maps

The topography maps on installed onto your handheld GPS or sat-nav using Garmin's Mapsource product.

The cheapest way to get Mapsource is to purchase Garmin's MapSource® Trip & Waypoint Manager which is less than €40.  In general, the high-end handheld GPS systems from Garmin come with the Trip & Waypoint Manager in the box.

Once you have installed Mapsource on your PC or MAC, download the latest version of the Emerald Island's maps and install. The most recent version is 2.0.5 (01/12/2013). It is very straightforward and only takes a few minutes.

Next run up Mapsource and you should already see all the topography maps that are available - there is no need to mess about with registry settings.

Connect up your handheld GPS or sat-nav, select the map that your want to put on your device and transfer the map to your GPS using the 'Send To Device' option. That's all there is to it!

Go to now to Download the FREE Topography Maps