Custom Made Britain

Yes, there are 607 OS paper maps of Great Britain for you to choose from, but did you know there are also infinite Custom Made maps you can order? Tens of thousands of you have already put your Custom Made map orders in, creating enough map areas to cover the moon three times, an amazing 111.5 million km2 of Britain printed on your maps.

This shows Custom Made map orders a week at a time since February 2012, with the centre points coloured based on the map type: Orange = OS Explorer, Pink = OS Landranger. 

We’ve analysed the data from all of your orders since Custom Made launched in February 2012, and our GeoDataViz team has created a series of stunning visualisations to illustrate the most popular areas. As with our most popular grid squares analysis last summer, it’s the Lake District which tops the poll, with the Peak District and Snowdonia also proving popular. It’s not all National Parks and countryside being put on a Custom Made map though, as London, Bath, and Edinburgh are major hotspots too.

Lake District – take a closer look at the density of map orders placed around the Lake District. One OS Landranger map almost covers the whole National Park.

When you order a Custom Made map you choose your own centre point, whether you’d like an OS Explorer or OS Landranger map, choose a flat or folded map (they look great framed and on the wall) and add your own cover photo and titles. When we took a look at the most popular words used on the titles, guess what topped the poll? You’ve got it, ‘map’! Proving the popularity of Custom Made as a gift, ‘mum’, ‘dad’, ‘birthday’ and ‘house/home’ all feature heavily too. And Britain’s favourite pet, the dog, is the cover star of many a map.

Although you can choose between Explorer and Landranger, over three quarters of people opt for the OS Explorer map, which covers a smaller surface area.  When printed out, the unfolded maps all measure 100×89 cm, and in total, we’ve printed 15 km2 of Custom Made map orders – almost enough to cover the 13 National Parks in England and Wales.

Breaks down the map orders by map type; OS Explorer and OS Landranger.

With enough Custom Made map areas created to cover the surface of Great Britain 532 times, we were curious to see whether anywhere hadn’t featured on a map order. Up stepped Foula, the only inhabited part of Britain not to feature on a Custom Made map.

Just 12.95 km2 (about the same size as the city of Winchester), Foula is part of the Shetland Islands and is 172 km from the Scottish mainland. Although remote, there are over 30 permanent residents on the island, and it’s renowned for wildlife, in particular birds. Surely prime to feature on a Custom Made map for a bird-loving visitor?

Foula, in the Shetland Islands, has never featured on a Custom Made map

Custom Made maps in numbers

  • Custom Made maps have been available since February 2012
  • OS Landranger maps cover an area 40x40km
  • OS Explorer maps cover an area 20x20km
  • OS Explorer maps account for 77% of all orders
  • Total area covered by all map orders: 111.5 million km2, that’s 532 times the surface area of Great Britain, or 3 times the surface area of the Moon, or nearly enough to cover Mars!
  • Amount of paper used for all map orders so far is 15 km2

See more images on our Flickr channel.

Order your own Custom Made map.


We have 5 Custom Made maps to give away. Just tell us which map scale is most commonly ordered by Custom Made customers, OS Landranger or OS Explorer? Post your answers on the blog by 12 noon on Friday 28 July.

This hex map shows an overview of all map orders. The centre points have been aggregated into a grid of hexagons.


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134 Responses

  1. A Fish

    Competition – •OS Explorer

    Very interesting data – just shows in this age of digital information, how many people still use OS Maps

  2. Kirsty

    What a great and interesting read, the most common scale ordered by custom made customers is OS Explorer. I didn’t even know you could get custom made maps!

  3. Andy

    OS Explorer is the answer. Presumably because details are important to someone ordering a map centre in their own location?

    Lovely visualisations. Thank you.

  4. Rob

    OS Explorer are the most popular, however I ordered a custom Landranger covering most of the popular locations in Northumberland 🙂

  5. Molly Haigh

    The OS Explorer scale maps are the most commonly ordered custom made map 🙂 they are a great scale to take hiking out in the Peak District!

  6. Helene Schirmer

    OS Explorer maps are the most commonly ordered with a 1:25,000 scale. Ideal for planning outdoor adventures when you need to plan routes! Don’t know what I’d do without them (…get lost probably, very, very lost)

  7. Victoria Douka-Doukopoulou

    The OS Explorer in scale 1: 25 000 is the most commonly ordered by Custom Made customers

  8. Gillian

    The OS explorer map with a scale of 1:25000 is the most commonly ordered. I have one framed on my hall wall!

  9. Annie

    the OS Explorer (1:25 000) are the most popular map scale for custom maps ….and that’s what mine is 🙂

  10. Peter Simpson

    I like to be original – OS Explorer Maps (1:25,000). I don’t think anyone else will have thought of that!

  11. A fascinating read. There is something about a paper map that I just love; I could spend hours poring over routes, planning runs. I’d love to win a custom made map to have framed on our wall for when we move house in a couple of months to a new area. Excited about all the new countryside to explore. OS Explorer is the most common scale ordered by custom map customers 🙂

  12. Wenna

    The OS Explorer maps are the most popular custom made maps.
    I can understand why they are so popular – everyone loves a map!

  13. Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. The correct answer was OS Explorer. We’ve now emailed the 5 winners – good luck!

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