Ordnance Survey Map Sheet Finder

Published 9 June 2019

A section of Ordnance Survey's OL1 map
Map a-hoy!

Maps. Aren’t they all digital now? Whip out your phone, load an app, wait for something to appear?

Well for some people yes, that’s what happens. And hey, a phone with GPS enabled can be a wonderful thing.

But using your phone for navigation can have its downsides. Even with the biggest screens, phones are smaller than a map so you can’t see much. Phones can have problems if they get wet. Phones can break if you drop them. Phones can run out of battery. Phones can be in places where there’s no signal. And for that reason alone, I personally always go out walking with a paper map. It’s hard to go wrong with a paper map. After all, you can see a wide area on then. You can keep them in a good map case so they don’t get wet. And they don’t break if you drop them. (Well, they may tear, but that’s repairable.) They also don’t need a battery. Oh and they don’t rely on a signal. In short, paper maps are a wonderful thing, and I wouldn’t want to go walking without one.

But how do you know which map you need? Ordnance Survey publish hundreds of the things. Which one do you need?

Behold a tool I found recently that’s probably been around for years. But I didn’t know about it. And you might not have either.

It’s the Ordnance Survey Map Sheet Finder! Put in a location or a postcode, then choose your map scale, and it will show you a map with that location on it. And it will show you the Ordnance Survey map (or maps) that cover that area. So if you want to know what map Byrness is on for the last section of the Pennine Way (Explorer OL16, Landranger 80), or what sheet you need for Llanidloes on the Glyndŵr’s Way (Explorer 214, Landranger 136), you’re sorted.

Oh and you can buy the maps using it too. Which is, perhaps, what the Ordnance Survey would really like you to do most of all. Indeed, you also get a digital version map with your purchase these days. Should you want to use it.



19 January 2023 at 10:49 am

Perhaps it’s worth pointing out that things have moved on and I have now dispensed with paper maps entirely and use the OS App on my phone.

By downloading the route to the device in advance there’s no reliance on a data signal and the GPS is always working unless you’re in a cave! Consequently it’s very hard to get lost although some may see that as a downside taking away some of the skill of navigation!

Phones are now robust, waterproof and if fully charged at the start of the day should last a day’s walking.

Also I don’t have to fight with a paper map in wind and driving rain when I need to refold it for the next bit of the walk…..

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

19 January 2023 at 11:36 am

Hi David – I’ve been meaning for a while to write about the OS Maps app, as I’m a big fan. Although I always have a paper map with me, just in case. You never know, you may run out of battery or something! Or, as happened to me last year, when your phone gets so wet it shuts down (I really must get a waterproof case.) And whilst many of the problems they come across with people relying on phones is due to people using Google Maps, the advice from Mountain Rescue is to have a paper map with you just in case.

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