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.
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:
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.
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.