National Trails


A-Z map the National Trails

9781782571650Guest blog by our Licensed Partner, A-Z Maps

A-Z Maps has been chosen as the official mapping partner to produce maps for the National Trails of England and Wales. There are 16 long distance paths that are official National Trails, covering some of the most stunning parts of the country. The official National Trail maps will be produced using the iconic OS 1:25,000 mapping data, familiar with those who have used the OS Explorer maps.

A-Z Adventure Series

A-Z has worked closely with OS for many years and the A-Z Adventure Series has been one of the successes of this partnership. The Adventure Series contains the detailed OS mapping, so loved by walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, in a convenient book format with an index to places of interest, towns, villages and features.

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All about the Southern Upland Way

Southern Upland WayWalking from coast to coast across an entire country? For many of us, that’s the type of holiday we dream about. It’s good exercise, puts you right in the centre of your surroundings, and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you’re done.

Scotland is rife with incredible walking paths – we’ve already covered the West Highland Way – and there truly aren’t many countries that can boast as much breathtaking natural landscape, particularly so close to us living in the UK. Read More


All about the South Downs Way

South Downs WaySituated between Eastbourne and Winchester, the South Downs Way is a designated National Trail which meanders 101 miles through some of Sussex and Hampshire’s most stunning countryside.

From chalky cliffs to endless green fields, it’s a popular route which attracts walkers, hikers, horse riders and bikers; not to mention families having a picnic or couples enjoying a short stroll.

Here’s all you need to know about the South Downs Way: Read More


Explore one of the 15 National Trails

If you’re looking for inspiration for you next walk, why not start with one of England and Wales’ National Trails? There are 15 trails of varying lengths to enjoy the coastline and countryside of beautiful Britain. You can dip in and out of them in short sections if the whole trail feels like a daunting task to tackle and across the 15 trails, here should be something for everyone – whether you want to go walking, riding, cycling or running.

We’ve pulled together some facts and figures on our National Trails to inspire you – take a look here. And if you do fancy a visit, check out our Map shop too.


If you’d like to see the infographic in more detail, try this PDF.


New National Trail website using Ordnance Survey mapping

national-trail-map2Today’s guest blog is from Anne Clark at Walk Unlimited, the official promotion partner for the National Trails in England and Wales, and working in partnership with Natural England and Natural Resources Wales and the Trail Partnerships. 

Until recently anyone wanting to explore one of the 15 English and Welsh National Trails had to work pretty hard to plan their trip. Whilst there are many great guidebooks available, in particular the official guides published by Aurum Press that use extracts of Ordnance Survey maps, the problem is that most of the guides break the trails down into day-long walk or ride sections. This is helpful for some people but if you aren’t planning on completing the entire trail according to these sections then it gets more difficult.

The new National Trail website – www.nationaltrail.co.uk, launched on 13 January 2014, seeks to make it easier for everyone to enjoy the best trails in England and Wales, whether they want to walk an entire trail or simply enjoy a short visit as part of a day out. Read More


Eight tips to prepare for a walking holiday

With 15 National Trails across our country, coast-to-coast walks and much more you can try out, a walking holiday can be an excellent way to see our beautiful countryside. Whether you’re tackling the 45-mile Norfolk Coast Path or the 630-mile South West Coast Path, there really is a trail, or a section of a trail, that will suit walkers of all abilities.

If you haven’t been on a walking holiday before and are booking it all yourself, follow our handy tips to get you heading in the right direction.

1. Choose your trail and get yourself the right maps for it

The debate between digital and paper maps continues and the two really can complement each other. Your hand-held device will give you an instant location fix and can be easier to hold – but paper maps won’t lose signal or run out of power. Many trails will require a number of Ordnance Survey maps – and there are often specialist providers that cater for it (Harvey produce two strip maps for Wainwright’s coast to coast walk for example). There will also be guides to the trail which can help you to plan.

2. Plan your route

Be realistic about what you can achieve and still enjoy your walking holiday. If you have seven days and want to walk the 184-mile Thames Path, you would probably be better splitting the route in two and covering the second half another time. By all means vary your walks each day – have an easy eight miles one day and then aim for 20 the next day. It would be a good idea to plan the odd rest day to give yourself time to recover and also the opportunity to visit an area a little longer. And make sure that you’re breaking your walks in spots where you can find an overnight stay.

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Trailblaze across the countryside

There is a TrailBlaze route along part of the South West Coast Path

There is a Trailblaze route along part of the South West Coast Path

If you’ve been exploring some of the national trails this summer you may have noticed some white metal boxes along the way with the image of red flames on it. The boxes are part of self guided trail running routes along the national trails that enable the runner to check in at the check points to log their times.

Trailblaze have set courses on several of the national trails including the South West Coast Path, Pennine Way and Offa’s Dyke Path with the support of Natural England. After registering in advance, the runner is provided with a timing tag that must be inserted into each of the checkpoints along the route – this is then fed into an online leader board that you can check when you get home.

There are different levels of trails available to test your stamina and skill ranging from moderate, difficult and hard through to severe and extreme! Each of the trails differ in terrain but the ultimate aim, wherever you do one of the trails is to go the furthest you can, under your own steam and in one go! The routes are all shown on their website using our OS OpenSpace mapping API so you can judge which is better suited to your ability.

The routes are open for you to try all day, every day – and if you tackle one that goes on one of the national trails (denoted by the National Trails logo of an acorn) 20% of your entry fee is donated to maintaining the upkeep of the 2 500 miles of National Trails in Great Britain.

Have you done any of the Trailblaze routes? If so – how did you get on? Which other national trails and long distance routes would you like to see a trail running route set up on?




Everything you need to know about Rights of Way

Earlier this year I was involved with the running of a series of Ordnance Survey map reading workshops across Great Britain. One topic that regularly cropped up was rights of way – where can I go walking? Today on the Ordnance Survey blog I hope to be able to answer that question for you.

When we’re compiling the information for our maps we talk to a variety of other organisations and groups that provide different data-sets to link with the maps. When our surveyors are on the ground, or when our cartographers take information from the aerial photography that our plane has taken, they can’t always tell what the rights of way in that area are. We work with local authorities and national bodies (such as Sustrans and Natural England) to bring the information together for the maps. The maps are as accurate as they can be with the information that we have to hand at the time of the map being printed.

First of all – let’s have a look at the map and see what that tells us. What we’re looking at is the “Communications” section on the map legend. Here we can see the different types of roads and paths and public rights of way. Read More