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Maps for walking. Free except where stated and for iOS and Android

Issue 1

A good start

OS Maps. Ordnance Survey, Great Britain’s mapping agency, is well-known to lovers of the outdoors. It started with mapping the Scottish Highlands following a rebellion in 1745. Then, as the French Revolution stirred on the other side of the English Channel, there were real fears that the fighting might spread across to the south coast. The government's Board of Ordnance began to survey those parts of coast that were considered vulnerable to attack. Over 250 years later this state-owned organisation is going from strength to strength.

The maps that are most beloved of walkers and cyclists is the Explorer series. With a 1:25,000 scale the 403 sheets cover the whole of Great Britain from the Isle of Scilly (101) to Unst, one of the Shetland Isles (470) although somewhat incongruously the Isle of Man isn't represented. Every four centimetre square on the maps is one kilometre enabling users to find marked public rights of way, byways, trails, cycle routes, bridleways, road networks, and railway lines.

In around 2012, OS Maps was launched. There is a free version but the premium version allows users for the first time to view, navigate and download the most up-to-date Landranger and Explorer maps of Great Britain on mobile devices in high resolution. This premium service costs £29.99 for one year that includes access to almost 2 million routes stored in the routes' database, a large proportion of them public. You can also experience aerial 3D footage of any route in OS Maps in order to preview the terrain as well as see the views you can expect.

Although known for its comprehensive range of printed leisure maps, the digital side of the company now accounts for more than ninety percent of turnover.

For rambling

AllTrails lacks Ordnance Survey mapping but has hand-curated route maps, along with reviews and photos crowdsourced from a community of over 20 million hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers and runners. With over 100 thousand routes, users can filter to find the route that's right for them, and ramble with confidence.

For walking around London

Go Jauntly is a walking app that helps people discover over 700 walking routes throughout the UK. The founders are nature-loving city dwellers who spend much of our time deskbound and yearn to be a bit more active. In London you can find information including walking times to the nearest tube and overground station, Santander Cycles' docking stations and details of local walks. As part of its partnership with Transport for London it also brought the Walk London Network’s Capital Ring and Jubilee Walkway to the app. There are walks around the rest of the UK also.

For easy route planning

MapOut costs £4.99 and is for iOS only, but its streamlined interface, despite being slightly less detailed than Ordnance Survey, (it uses an open-source map called OpenStreetMap) makes route plotting a doddle.

For more challenging hillwalking

ViewRanger is seen by some as better for more seasoned hillwalkers than OS Maps with its specialist walking maps including Harvey that can be downloaded for offline use.

Finally, not an app

Discovering Britain is a website created by the Royal Geographical Society to help people learn more about the geographical stories behind Britain’s rich and varied landscapes. Its routes are now also available in the ViewRanger app.


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