Data Visualising the Most Popular Map Routes in Britain

Posted on September 20, 2016


Ordnance Survey, makers of Britain’s maps, took a decade of data about the UK’s most popular routes and created these visualisations.

If you look at the turn of summer into autumn as an opportunity to don your walking boots and climb Britain’s green and undulating hill country, then this post is for you. And Britain’s most trodden country paths are to be found in the Lake District, according to Ordnance Survey’s league table compiled from 10 years of their own routing data. Analysis of more than half a million routes shows that 18 out of the top 20 most popular places to create a route are right in the heart of the Lake District National Park.

As the national mapping agency for Great Britain and one of the world’s largest producers of maps, Ordnance Survey (OS) produced a league table of the most popular towns and cities where people create routes. Top of the list were the humble towns of Keswick and Amble, in the midst of the lakes, well ahead of the City of Westminster in London.

Half a Million Routes and How They Look

Some 500,000 routes have been registered in the OS Maps app, so one of OS’ cartographers Charley Glynn took the data and turned it into a series of visualisations. You can see some of the results below, with the darker, thicker areas showing the route’s popularity. OS Maps has been used for everything from car to sea journeys and many of Charley’s visualisations can be seen on Flickr at

Charley commented: “What I find amazing is that the people who have created these routes for their outside adventures have logged almost every bit of British coastline, neatly framing the rest of the data and giving the illusion you are looking at a map of Great Britain.”

Top OS Routes League Table

The top locations league table was compiled by identifying the busiest 1km grid square in Great Britain. The towns and cities league table was created by identifying the busiest towns and cities.

Top 20 locations (by 1km grid square) and number of routes
OSGB GridRef: NY2107 – Scafell Pike Summit – 2172
OSGB GridRef: SH6054 – Snowdon Summit – 2111
OSGB GridRef: NY2308 – Allen Crags (Near Scafell Pike) – 1918
OSGB GridRef: NY2208 – Great End (Near Scafell Pike) – 1908
OSGB GridRef: NY2806 – Langdale Fell (Cumbria Way) – 1865
OSGB GridRef: NY3415 – Helvellyn Summit – 1793
OSGB GridRef: SD8072 – Horton in Ribblesdale – 1593
OSGB GridRef: NY2514 – Rosthwaite – 1576
OSGB GridRef: NY3308 – Grasmere (North) – 1558
OSGB GridRef: NY1807 – Wast Water (North) – 1551
OSGB GridRef: NY2623 – Keswick – 1539
OSGB GridRef: NY2407 – Rossett Pike (Near Scafell Pike) – 1531
OSGB GridRef: NY3414 – Nethermost Pike (Near Helvellyn) – 1527
OSGB GridRef: NY3704 – Ambleside – 1520
OSGB GridRef: NY3816 – Glenridding – 1519
OSGB GridRef: NY2209 – Great Slack (Near Scafell Pike) – 1515
OSGB GridRef: NY2906 – Langdale Fell (Cumbria Way) – 1491
OSGB GridRef: NY3511 – Fairfield Summit – 1487
OSGB GridRef: NY3307 – Grasmere (Centre) – 1467
OSGB GridRef: NY2109 – Sty Head (Near Scafell Pike) – 1431

Top 10 cities and towns and number of routes
Keswick – 1746
Ambleside – 1619
Guildford – 1146
City of Westminster – 1129
Richmond upon Thames – 1099
Winchester – 1089
Leeds – 1072
Sheffield – 1043
Bath – 1041
Bakewell – 1006

OS’ Flickr account also has some great images of the humble trig pillar – a fixed survey station found at the tops of many hills and mountains. There are some beautiful photos in the series and a few lovely examples below.

Check out the OS Maps app here: