Summer walking: What do the stats tell us?

5 minute read
Hundreds of thousands of walkers spent the summer enjoying Britain’s National Parks – according to new figures released by Ordnance Survey.

As winter approaches OS has taken a look back at Britain’s summer walking habits by analysing data captured in OS Maps.

Walkers, cyclists, joggers, and hikers who shared data in OS Maps app revealed exactly where the nation spent most of its time between June and August.

Walks in National Parks proved most popular this summer.

The National Parks proved incredibly popular, with over 110,000 routes followed there alone.

Top 10 most popular national parks

According to OS Maps app (Summer 2023):

National Park

No. of routes followed

1. Lake District


2. Peak District


3. Yorkshire Dales


4. Snowdonia


5. South Downs


6. Cairngorms


7. North York Moors


8. Brecon Beacons


9. Loch Lomand & Trossachs


10. Dartmoor


The average length of a walk this summer was 14 kilometres (kms), while jogs were 20 kms, on-road cycles 58 kms, off-road cycles 40 kms, paddles 19 kms, and horse-riding hacks 17 kms.

In total the nation completed 17.8 million kilometres of activity through the summer months.

Top 10 most popular British mountains in 2023

Hikers had a busy summer enjoying ascending and descending mountains – particularly in the Lake District.

Data captured in OS Maps app showed the most popular climbs to summits which were defined as being above 2,000ft or 600 metres in elevation:

  1. High Raise – Lake District
  2. Skiddaw – Lake District
  3. Kinder Scout – Peak District
  4. Helvellyn – Lake District
  5. Bowfell – Lake District
  6. Scafell Pike – Lake District
  7. Great Gable – Lake District
  8. Old Man of Coniston – Lake District
  9. Grisedale Pike – Lake District
  10. Cairn Gorm/Ben Macdui – Cairngorms National Park

Will nation stay active this winter?

With the clocks going back and temperatures now dropping, visits to the National Parks and mountain sides are predicted to drop throughout winter.

Stay safe this winter

"Winter weather certainly shouldn’t be an excuse to stay indoors – but if you are heading out somewhere remote just remember to take sensible precautions to keep safe and enjoy the day."

Nick Giles | OS’s MD for Leisure

But a regular dose of fresh air will keep the whole family happy and healthy all year round, even if it is colder.

So long as people take some care to think ahead and plan accordingly, they will enjoy the same benefits they did over summer.

OS’s MD for Leisure, Nick Giles said: “Winter weather certainly shouldn’t be an excuse to stay indoors – but if you are heading out somewhere remote just remember to take sensible precautions to keep safe and enjoy the day.

“By checking the weather, bringing the right equipment, and having a paper map and phone app on you at all times will keep you and your party out of harm’s way.

“If you’re map reading skills aren’t the greatest, OS Maps app can help. It has a built-in compass that gives you you’re bearing and direction you are facing just by pointing your phone. You can also find your exact grid reference, giving you a pin-point location to help you navigate from and to. You can also share your location via the app with friends, family or the emergency services if needed.

“Another great feature is the ability to download maps and routes to your mobile device offline, which means you can map anywhere in Britain even without signal, very useful when heading out to places where mobile signal can be patchy.”

Winter walking safety tips:

OS wants to keep as many people as physically active and as safe as possible when going out to explore the countryside this winter.

Below are five tips to follow to avoid ruining any trip:

  • Check the forecast before you set off and ensure that you have the right gear to keep you warm and comfortable and most importantly, remain safe.
  • A good set of waterproofs and adequate footwear will allow you to enjoy the outdoors in wet conditions and when temperatures drop, warm layers will keep you nice and snug.
  • If the weather is bad, think about what it may be like underfoot and don’t attempt outdoor activities you’re unfamiliar with. OS Maps lets you check the terrain and elevation of walking and cycling routes before you set off. The desktop version even allows you to visualise the destination in an aerial 3D fly through of your chosen paths.
  • If you’re heading out on a walk, it’s wise to take an OS paper map and compass as a backup as electronic devices may not always be reliable and are difficult to use in extremely wet weather
  • Set off nice and early to maximise the daylight hours. Bring a torch and spare batteries in case of emergency.

By Press Office

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