Finding a walk near you.
At this point in lockdown, you may feel you have exhausted all the walks you know in the local area. So why not use our useful guide to online resources that will help you find and plan a new local walk or discover local green space that you didn’t know existed!
Before we start with the online resources, we have to mention that The Trails Shop stock a fabulous selection of short walk books and maps that cover most areas of the country… so, if like me, you’re a traditionalist do take a look!
Looking for new Green Space?
Being cooped up indoors for long periods of time can be frustrating and isn’t great for your health. You may not have the time, health or family circumstances to enjoy a walk of any significant distance every day, but it is great for your well-being to get outdoors. Even the most built-up environments have some green space locally and here’s how you can find some!
Ordnance Survey - Greenspace
Most people will have heard of Ordnance Survey maps - that’s because they are so useful. There is a free Ordnance Survey online map that now allows you to discover green spaces across Britain, this includes County Parks, Nature Reserves and Access Land. Pop in the place you live and have a zoom around to see all the green patches close to where you live (click on the 'change map' icon at the bottom right corner to select the Greenspace layer).
Most people will be familiar with Google Street View, but Google also has satellite view. This will allow you to fly over your local area to find nearby green spaces, woods and parks you didn’t know about. If you live near to a National Trail you may have seen the signs and have wondered just where that path leads to - you’ll be delighted to know you can follow Street View along many of the National Trails.
Find a walk - Create a walk
Fed up of walking the same route? There’s a number of great websites that allow you to plan your own walk or use other people’s suggestions. Some of the resources are free, others have subscription fees, that vary in cost.
Open Street Map – Free to use
Open Street Map has a zoomable base map that shows a variety of footpaths and rights of way that you can follow for your daily exercise or to walk your usual drive to the shops! Open Street Map is like a Wikipedia of the map world. It’s free, helpful but it’s good to remember the content is put on by members of the public so it may vary in quality and quantity depending where you are.
Walk4Life - £5 per year
Walk4Life is an excellent low budget resource that allows you to search a database of thousands of walks added by the public and local organisations. These are then shown on zoomable Ordnance Survey base maps with 1:25 and 1:50k layers available. The site also has a great drawing tool that allows you to create your own walks to print off. It’s a great site which is easy to use and very good value for money but unlike the more expensive options, has no app or facility to download GPX files.
AllTrails - Free for basic version* or £29.99 per year
AllTrails use the free Open Street Map base with a searchable database of walks. You can also create your own walk and download a GPX file. These maps don’t show the official rights of way but do have many routes that use them. You can upgrade to a Pro version for £29.99 a year which, along with other benefits, will allow you to download the maps to your phone, give you off route alerts and allow you to print off maps.
* account required
Ordnance Survey £23.99 per year
A similar offering and price to All Trails but will give you Ordnance Survey zoomable base maps with the definitive Rights of Way. Like AllTrails you can download the map to your phone so if there is no GPS signal, you’re not suddenly without the route! The 3D fly-through is worth a look, offering you an almost cinematic experience of your route before you get there.
Don’t run out of steam!
If you’re using an online map app on your phone or a GPS device to navigate your walk, be sure that the battery is fully charged. If you’re going somewhere that might not have a 4G or GPS signal and you don't want to be charged for data, download the map to your phone to be able to use it offline.
Other ways to discover walks
Other ways to find new local walks is to check your local authority or community website, they often have a great selection. If you have National Trust sites near you take a look at their selection of walks. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/walking
The National Trails website also has listings of short circular walks. Find the trail nearest to you and you may be in luck! www.nationaltrail.co.uk
Wherever you go, do follow Government advice and stay local to your home. The walks that are a distance from you will still be there when it’s safe for us to enjoy them again!
Happy local walking!