OS Maps now has off-road routing for our National Parks

We’ve produced a new off-road sat-nav style router in our OS Maps application, covering all 15 of Britain’s National Parks. You can now plot routes along public rights of way and footpaths, making it easier than ever to explore the parks. You can choose your exercise type – walking, running or cycling, and OS Maps will offer relevant routes depending on the activity entered.

5. Detail path example 2

It’s the first time all of Britain’s national parks have been made accessible in this way and is a move towards a full off-road sat-nav. This first step will help visitors to National Parks get from A to B successfully and safely on recognised footpaths. It’s also a fantastic way to support #GetOutside pledges and makes the outdoors easier to explore.

The National Park routing tool is currently available to subscribers of our browser version of OS Maps – http://os.uk/osmaps and will be available on our iOS and Android apps very soon. We’re also looking at introducing wheelchair friendly routes, horse trails and difficulty ratings in the future.

OS Maps allows you to access all our maps online and use them to plan, save and print routes for less than £18. However, tablets and mobile phones run out of power or can be damaged, so to ensure safety we always advise that you carry the paper map too, or use OS Maps to print out the area you need.

Find out how to use the National Park’s routing:

Getting started

At the moment, the snap routing tool is only available in its’ own map layer. In the map types, switch to ‘Standard + National Parks’. If you zoom out you will see all the national parks highlighted in pink – this shows the areas covered by the snap routing tool.

Zoom in on a National Park and you will see all the paths and roads highlighted in pink. You will also notice a new control in the top right that look like a magnet, allowing you to run snap routing on and off – more on this later.

Creating a route

Go to ‘Routes’ then ‘Create Custom Route’ to start creating a new route. Select walking or running to use all paths, or select cycling to limit your route to roads, bridleways and other suitable paths.

Click on the map to create your first point – it will jump to the nearest road or path if needed. Now create your next point – it can be some distance from the first, and a new route will connect the two, following the shortest available route

If the route goes somewhere you don’t want

Snap routing will always follow the shortest suitable path, which may sometimes take you along busy roads or other places you would rather avoid. You can either drag your last point to a location on the path you want to take, or click on the route to create a new intermediate point and then move it to force the route to go a certain direction.

Getting off the beaten path

If you want to plot a route that does not follow a recognised path, you can easily turn off the snap to route option. Click the ‘snap’ button so that it is no longer coloured, and your points will stay exactly where you drop them, connected with straight lines.
This is ideal if you are planning a walk across open country or to reach a specific peak that does not have an official path.

Viewing and printing your route on 25K and 50K mapping

At the moment, you can only plan routes using snap routing on the ‘Standard + National Parks’ map layer. However, you can switch to 25K or 50K mapping at any time. This will also let you print on the more familiar maps.

You can save your route to change the line colour and transparency, to keep it for future use or to export as a GPX file for use on a GPS or on the OS apps.

OS Maps snap to route in animated GIF form

This was the first major enhancement to OS Maps since its’ full launch in April, and we are planning on adding more features over time to make it easier than ever to discover and plan your next adventure.

25 Responses

  1. John S

    Hi Gemma, awesome and exciting tool for bikepacking adventures!

    Now, as an existing and loyal member with hundreds of pounds of OS 1:25000 grids on my IOS device, am I entitled to use the Browser version or would I have to subscribe?

    If I have to subscribe, I am curious to know if OS will apply a discount for existing IOS / android customers for the online version and , if not, will it be something considered in the future?

    Being ex forces and a keen OS supporter I can say that both systems have their useability and merits for various adventures / situations and wonder if this should not be considered a combined package?!

    Or the other theory, once this is available for the tablet generation and with a bridgeable printer interface (the tablet owners responsibility of course), will the tablet users be in the same position for all the functionality of the web based one for the tiles that they’ve paid for? This would obviously negate the need for the other!

    Curious for your advice and to know your thoughts! OS is still the best experience ever IMHO for mapping needs! Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi John. We will be maintaining your existing OS MapFinder app, so you will still be able to use it. In the future, if we decide to stop developing it we will be looking at how to support or migrate the existing customers.

      Unlike OS Mapfinder, OS Maps online will work on a tablet, but does require a decent internet connection – 4g is usable, WiFi gives a better experience. We do have a new app, ‘OS Maps app’ that at the moment is to support the download included with paper maps, and in the future would like to give more features for subscribers in the app.

  2. Gemma,
    You say ‘OS Maps allows you to access all our maps online and use them to plan, save and print routes for less than £18.’ Can you tell me how long I get to use the maps for £18, please?

  3. Graham Jones

    I see you are developing an app for ios and android.. how about windowsphone, or don’t users matter?

    1. Hi Graham. Unfortunately, with under 10% of the UK market, and low app store use even among those who have one, we’ve made the decision not to incur the extra cost of developing a Windows Mobile version at the moment. Microsoft has said that with the release of Windows 10 mobile they will be releasing tools to make it easier to convert an Android or iOS app to Windows, and we will be investigating those when they are available.

  4. Phil

    Whilst excited and enthusiastic about this great development, and acknowledging it is an ongoing process, it is unfortunately quite buggy to the point of not being very usable at the moment. Foe example, the snap to route works until you turn it off and then back on again – then it appears to stop working.
    Hope this can be sorted!


    1. Hi Phil. I’ve been using it as I wrote the instructions part of the blog, and it worked when I tested it. If you complete the ‘feedback’ form inside OS Maps with where it failed, we will get your notes plus your current browser version, which may let us track it down.

  5. Nigel

    Sorry, give me a paper map every time. Smart phones difficult to read in bright sunlight an the blog, in any case, doesn’t give me a clue as to how I would start to get involved in OS on a smartphone. But,, then I’m just an old whatsit struggling to keep up with technology. anybody else used a sextant?

  6. Geoff Carson

    Will I be able to import GPX files from Walkhighlands, SMC, Trail Magazine to OS Maps , edit them and then make available to Garmin Basecamp to transfer to my Garmin Gps Map 60CSx?

    1. Hi Geoff. OS Maps online works through a web browser, so you can log in on any device with a modern web browser and a decent internet connection using your account. The OS Maps app also uses the same account, although subscriber specific features are still in testing.

      OS Maps can handle most formats of GPX files now, so you can import them, move or delete points and export as a new GPX file for use directly in a GPS or through Basecamp. Be are that routes from some providers may be copyright and have usage limitations – please check their T&Cs. There is currently a 200kb file size limitation, but this covers most routes. If you come across a file format OS Maps can’t handle, please let us know.

    1. Hi Steve

      The development team are looking into that at the moment – no dates I can share with you as yet though. We’ll shout about it here if that changes.

      Thanks, Gemma

  7. Hi, I’m trying to map some routes on my Macbook then I would like to use the routes in OS Maps on my iPhone. I consider myself computer literate but I’m really struggling with this. I do use the same account to log in on both devices and thought all the routes would be visible on all devices. Is this not so?



    1. Hi George

      In the current version of OS Maps, the ability to sync between the online service and app isn’t yet available. It is one of the things being worked on early this year, so watch this space.

      Many thanks, Gemma

  8. Phil Adams

    Ex forces Phil, i,d really just like OS to make a Sat Nav product with UK full coverage, I am a walker, mountainbiker and Landrover Green laner and would like a top line OS product to drive from the road and turn onto the lane marked on the great OS maps……. anything in the pipeline?

  9. Phil A

    Hi I’m using OS National Park map tiles purchased and used through ViewRanger on an iPhone 6s. Anyone know if off road routing and snap-to footpath should be available to plot a route on maps? Tried viewranger forums but can’t find answer anywhere

  10. Roddie Grant

    I’m not convinced about the accuracy of the snap-to-path feature. I’m looking at a walk north of The Roaches in Staffordshire. At SJ 99149 64783 the right of way is clearly shown to the north-east of a wall/field boundary on the 1:25k maps. This is where the “snapped-to” path appears in the arial view, but on the leisure maps the “snapped-to” path is to the south west of the wall. Walking on the correct side of a wall could be important. There are other instances where the “snapped-to” path is not exactly the same as the green dashed right of way.

    1. Jocelyn

      Hi Roddie. There will be differences in the ‘snap to path’ positioning due to various capture scales for the source data. The National Path digital layer is taken from information captured at a more detailed scale (in this area I would guess 1:2,500). The Explorer mapping at 1:25,000 scale is a generalised depiction of the Definitive Map as held by the relevant Local Authority. Therefore the 2 datasets will never ‘match’ or be fully accurate with features as they are on the ground. We do state on all paper and digital map legends that “the representation on this map of any road, track or path is no evidence of the existence of a right of way”. I hope this helps, Jocelyn

    1. Jocelyn

      Rob, sorry for the delayed response. Unfortunately the answer is no. Until the Software Development Kit update happens this is unlikely to change and it is a big maybe when it does. All the routing in the National Parks is approved by the National Park Authorities. We don’t have approved routes outside of the National Parks so customers have to carefully make sure their routes match the shape of roads/paths. Hope this helps, Jocelyn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name* :

Email* :