Your passport to unlimited trails

The OS Maps mobile app allows you to plot the perfect path

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by Hope Elkins |

Discovering paths, tackling new terrain and exploring fresh routes are what makes trail running so exciting and rewarding. And thanks to the OS Maps app, trails are more accessible than ever. No more scratching your head about whether to turn left and try something new or keep right on the route you're familiar with. With a little planning, there's a whole new world of trails on your doorstep waiting to be run.

Of course, plotting new routes and adventures on a map is one of life's simple joys - but OS recognise that the new tech can take the place of a traditional map! They have worked hard to make sure the OS Maps app is the perfect place for any runner. Literally, a new world of hidden paths are the swipe of a finger away.

"The OS Maps app will open your eyes to so many outdoors and adventure opportunities on your doorstep," says record-breaking adventurer James Forrest. "It's helped me to uncover hidden gems, find secret spots and experience new trails all in my local area - everything from a riverside trail, a disused railway path and a local hill with truly epic views."

All too often, we become creatures of habit, almost too unaware of the incredible paths and trails close to hand, but as yet undiscovered on any of our runs. Using the OS Maps app changes all that in an instant. "The app is brilliant for plotting routes in advance, following routes on-the-go, and pinpointing your exact location if you get a little lost. Better still, you don't need 4G, as you can download the routes directly to your phone for offline use," continues James.

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"I can't imagine not having the app," tweets Vicky Johnson in a recent online chat about just how useful this latest innovation from OS can be. "My top tip is to download map/route to phone, especially if you live in an area (like mine) where signal is poor," she adds.

“I use it locally, only discovered it during the first lockdown, and it’s has helped me discover more of my local area – it is super-handy!” enthuses Georgios, also part of the online debate. Claire Bates can’t wait to get involved. “I’ve been really inspired by all the posts in this group so bought myself an Ordnance Survey map, planned a route and enjoyed my first trail run with my running partner; here’s to many more mud runs,” she wrote.

Of course, mapping is nothing new – OS have been at it since 1745 – but the app is something else. Dr Sarah Rowell, an Olympic marathon runner in 1984 and one of Britain’s finest ever trail runners, can recall her early days and how much it has all changed. “I have always used OS maps to plan runs,” she says. “Back in the day I used to measure my road training runs in Kent using the map and piece of paper/string method. But it’s easier now! In fact, I find it great when I’m travelling for work. I use the app to plan runs from hotels, and even select hotels based on available off-road routes if possible.” It’s benefits like this which really make the app stand out from the crowd.

“Using it means you always know how far off you are from a footpath,” explains mountain runner Rory Southworth. “You can use the GPS arrow on the maps to indicate your position in relation to the features and footpaths around. “Plus, it has the ability to plot and save routes at any time to follow at a later date. I must have hundreds of plotted routes I’ve created. Always ready for when I need some extra route inspiration. I also love the way it can find where others start and stop their routes by using the Discover Routes feature to work out potential parking spots. “And of course, you can use it to discover interesting terrain nearby to link up to create fun local runs, searching for steep inclines and traverses,” he adds.

“OS maps are brilliant for planning and plotting routes, or checking where you are when out and about,” concludes Simon James, founder of Run the Wild and an International Mountain leader.

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk and join us. One thing’s for sure; we’re not getting lost!

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