Maps are both a work of art and a document that tells you so much about the history of where we are standing or looking. Until recently my shelf of maps just kept growing – now I use the OS online Maps service.
People rely too much on their mobile phones these days (me too), with Sat Navs removing a lot of the need to learn how to read a map but my mantra is always “never go on a walk without a map even if the route is easy to remember”.
We are very lucky in the UK – the Ordnance Survey is one of the finest (if not the No 1) mapping organisations in the world and their maps are beautiful and incredibly detailed. But let’s face it living on the edge of an Explorer or 1:50,000 map can get a little expensive, especially if you live in one of the corners…..
The OS launched OS maps App a few years ago and I now use it every new walk and here’s why
1) OS Maps online is great for plotting new routes
Remember when you had to use a piece of string or a little wheel to work out how long a walking route is? (Under 30’s please ignore this question as you probably have no idea what I’m talking about). With the OS Maps Online you simply click on the paths you want to follow and it has a cool magnetic tool that works out the route from your last click.
Once you are finished clicking, OS Maps online gives you the distance and height profile for your walk.
2) OS Maps online lets you save routes and find others
Enjoyed a walk and want to add it to your library? Just click the Heart next to the route and you have started your very own – “These are the walks I love” guidebook. All our routes have OS Maps Online routes for them so just click on the heart next to any of them and you have them stored in your favourites.
You can use the search to find other routes, although to be honest it only seems to be the routes from the large magazines that appear for me.
3) OS Maps online covers the whole country and is always up to date and allows you to print
This is a big one for me. Not only does this cover the fact that I live near the edge of a standard mapping sheet but it means that if I go to the Brecons or Dartmoor for the day I don’t have to find or buy a new map. Acces to the system costs about the price of 2 – 3 maps a year so this quickly pays for itself.
Using the App has it’s advantages but when your phone battery dies they disapear fast! The system allows you to print a map to scale. Then simply laminate it and you have your own small map of thr route. Image holding a A5 laminate map instead of a large map case swinging around your neck with a map that is folder wrong for the second half of the route…… See where I am coming from?
4) OS Maps App tells you where you are
As a map reading geek this is a cheat in my eyes, but one I use all the time. While on your walk just open the app and the OS map will be displayed with your location as a flashing red dot. The map will also rotate so it is pointing in the right direction (map reading 101). The app is available for Andriod or IOS
5) OS Maps has a cool 3D fly through feature.
Every wondered where we get our cool 3D flythroughs from? Once you have created or found a route, simply click the 3D Fly Through button and enjoy a preview flight!
The bottom line
Some of the features are free to use and all you need to do is register. However if you want access to the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 walking maps, printing maps or 3D flythrough then you need to buy a subscription which costs £3 a month or £24 a year. Simply sign up for a free trial and at the end of the trial you can decide if it is worth it.