Our Favourite App for Hiking – Ordnance Survey App

April 6, 2018

I just caught wind of a new feature in our favourite app for hiking, the Ordnance Survey app. It’s pretty damn awesome for helping plot walking routes for the family.

When we’re going out walking we always have some form of Ordnance Survey map with us. Ordanance Survey is the biggest mapping agency in the UK. It provides a whole host of great maps for a variety of purposes. 

Anyway, you should always have a map when you’re out in the hills. If we’re going on more adventurous stuff like our recent trips into Snowdonia we ALWAYS take a paper map, one with the best and most detail available (usually one of these).

Now we also have another backup solution in the Ordnance Survey app. It’s available on iOS and Android and has a subscription fee for the full mapping.

There are a few great reasons for loving this app…

  1. It allows you to always have the map you need, wherever you are in the country. No more maps in map cases flying around your neck. No more struggling to find a new map when you’re in a new town. Also if you already have a paper map with a digital code in you can enter it into the app to get it (without the subscription)
  2. It is GPS powered, so it puts you on the map, more or less with pin point accuracy. This is pretty much my favourite feature. We had a total white out recently on Glyder Fawr and whilst we were following cairns and able to get a compass bearing, the piece of mind of knowing exactly where you are on the map in comparison to the path is absolutely brilliant. It genuinely got us out of the shit.
  3. Route plotting, you can literally plan your route before you go. Plot waypoints across your map it can measure distance and predict the time it will take to get through it. Especially vital if your hiking with kids (though we may aswell double any predictions with our squad). You can also find other peoples plotted routes on the site with descriptions and information on the walk generated by other hikers. Great for finding unknown little gems!

And this brings me to the new feature.

Now that you’ve plotted a route or found one that you fancy doing, OS have added the ability to “fly-through” the route in 3D! So it’s kind of like a drone view of your route. It’s super quick, fluent and smooth. It gives a better sense of scale, a better sense of the contours on the map, of how challenging the route is. A better visual representation, clearer and easier to understand.

Why it works for families…

This makes it great for planning our family hikes, I know whats within our limitations and time frames on day hikes but sometimes it can be difficult to gauge. Now I can really get a sense as to whether we’re capable of it.
I also get a chance to see if it’s actually worth it too! We don’t just walk for the sake of it, especially as a family. There has to be a pay off, a view or series of views mainly. It gives me a chance to spot things that I can egg the kids on with whilst we’re actually on the walk. There’s a lake up ahead, there’s a bridge with a troll coming up, there’s some forest up ahead, we can setup the tarp and have a picnic etc.

#Pro tips for App use.

  • You can download sections of the map, in app, before you go so you don’t use up your data whilst out there. Very helpful. Also you may not even have signal in some places. Make sure you do this! You can also enter the download codes from paper maps into the app to redeem them there too.
  • Get a battery pack. (I actually wrote an article on why I use that one here) I wear a bumbag (I KNOW) which has my phone, camera and battery pack in on walks now, I barely notice it, but having some serious phone charge (and go pro charging) is imperative.

So yeah pretty damn sweet. The subscription is £20 a year. The app is getting better, it used to be super buggy but they’re ironing things out a lot more. GPS used to take a little while to get your position but its much much faster now. An absolute worthwhile investment.

PS. Just wanted to add that this super positive review looks a bit suss, this isn’t an ad, I pay my subscription, always have and always will – it’s just dead good and I like things that are dead good 🙂


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