OS Maps – is it worth subscribing?

You may have been made aware that the Ordnance Survey has recently introduced 3d maps to their OS Maps: Online Mapping and Walking service but is it worth taking out a full subscription?

Having subscribed to OS Maps: Online Mapping and Walking for several months I thought it would be worth sharing my experience using the service. The subscription offers a range of features including:

  • plotting and following routes
  • Explorer and Landranger mapping
  • printing maps (up to A3)
  • saving maps for use offline
  • National Park Trails
  • Import and routes
  • Use on a mobile device

I’ve used the service in a number of ways both in the classroom and for leisure. In the classroom I’ve been able to print off OS map extracts for use in planning fieldwork investigations with A Level students. In addition to this it’s been really easy preparing map skills activities using the Landranger map extracts. These can be printed up to A3 which is a cheap way of providing students with an extract each. During field trips students have been able to annotate printed extracts in the field.




The recently introduced 3D mapping feature has been very useful in demonstrating a range of geographical landforms and has supported students in completing risk assessments when planning field trips.

Outside of the classroom plotting a circular around Helvellyn was a cinch. I was able to plan the route within my web browser at home.

A map showing a route around Helvellyn

The circular route around Helvellyn plotted.

Saving this online synchronised the route to my iPhone and using the OS Map app was able to use this to navigate the route.

With the recent introduction of 3D mapping routes can be viewed in all their glory.

A 3D image of Helvellyn with a route plotted.

A 3D route of Helvellyn.

In addition to creating maps within a web browser you can also upload GPX files. For the uninitiated GPX is shorthand for GPS eXchange Format and is a type of file that’s really helpful to anyone who loves the outdoors, and is the most popular way of saving and exchanging routes. There are a range of websites which allow you to download GPX files which you can then upload to your OS Maps account. You can then review the route superimposed on an OS Map or view it in 3D.

I’ve found the OS Map service easy to use and very good value for money. Subscription starts at £3.99 per month or £19.99 per year (with a recurring annual subscription that can be cancelled at any time or you can pay £23.99 without the recurring option). You can find out more here https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Anthony Bennett

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