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Britain's most popular grid squares

11 Jul 2016
Ordnance Survey
CartographyUsing GI and maps
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cartographygrid referenceLake District

You may have heard us saying that there are over 500,000 routes in our OS Maps service…well, we’ve been analysing all of that data to look at which areas you most like to #GetOutside and explore. We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most popular grid squares in Britain, using 10 years of public routing data compiled in OS Maps and its predecessors.

Britain's most popular grid squares - 18 are in the Lake District!
Britain’s most popular grid squares – 18 are in the Lake District!

We suspected that the Lake District would feature highly, but were amazed to discover that eighteen of the top twenty most popular grid squares to create a route fall in the heart of the Lake District National Park, close to  popular tourist locations Keswick, Ambleside, Grasmere, Helvellyn and Scafell Pike. The other two top twenty places can be found in Snowdonia and the Yorkshire Dales.

All of the public OS Maps routes recorded in the Lake District National Park
All of the public OS Maps routes recorded in the Lake District National Park

The 500,000 plus routes have been illustrated in a series of stunning data visualisations created by our Cartographic Designer Charley Glynn. The darker, thicker areas illustrate the higher concentration of routes and reveal popularity. Charley was surprised when he started analysing the data:

"We’ve always assumed the majority of the routes are created for walking, cycling and running activities, but it’s clear that some people have been finding new ways to use our products. I’ve noticed several instances where people have used our products to route their car journeys and spotted a couple of people using our products at sea to recording their movements."

Top 20 locations (by 1km grid square) and number of routes

NY2107 – Scafell Pike Summit – 2172

SH6054 – Snowdon Summit – 2111

Routes crossing Snowdonia in Charley's data visualisation
Routes crossing Snowdonia in Charley’s data visualisation

NY2308 – Allen Crags (Near Scafell Pike) – 1918

NY2208 – Great End (Near Scafell Pike) – 1908

NY2806 – Langdale Fell (Cumbria Way) – 1865

NY3415 – Helvellyn Summit – 1793

SD8072 – Horton-in-Ribblesdale – 1593

NY2514 – Rosthwaite – 1576

NY3308 – Grasmere (North) – 1558

NY1807 – Wast Water (North) – 1551

NY2623 – Keswick – 1539

NY2407 – Rossett Pike (Near Scafell Pike) – 1531

NY3414 – Nethermost Pike (Near Helvellyn) – 1527

NY3704 – Ambleside – 1520

NY3816 – Glenridding – 1519

NY2209 – Great Slack (Near Scafell Pike) – 1515

NY2906 – Langdale Fell (Cumbria Way) – 1491

NY3511 – Fairfield Summit – 1487

NY3307 – Grasmere (Centre) – 1467

NY2109 – Sty Head (Near Scafell Pike) – 1431

The Lake District is a truly stunning area of Britain, and one of our 15 National Parks, but there are many other beautiful places to explore around the country too. We have inspiration for some of Britain’s hidden gems, detailed walking guides, outdoors tips and more on our #GetOutside site. Take a look and then add your new route into OS Maps too.

You can also view all of the the data visualisations created by Charley in our Flickr gallery.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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