Step it Up: The Best Navigation Apps for UK Hikers

We’ve pulled together a list of our favourite navigation apps – easy-to-use platforms that will take you seamlessly from city to country – so you’ll never be left out in the cold. Disclaimer: if you are, we take absolutely no responsibility.

you want to head out into the hills; to stretch out your
hip-flexors, quads, piriformis and all manner of other supporting
muscles that have slipped into lockdown lethargy? For the
uninitiated or city-based, the simple act of heading out on a hike can seem rather

Aside from picking a route, there are other factors to
consider. What is the difficulty of the route you’ve chosen? How
long will it take you? Importantly, will there be a country pub
warmed by a crackling fire waiting to greet you at the end?

To help simplify things, we’ve pulled together a list of our
favourite navigation apps. Expect easy-to-use platforms that will
take you seamlessly from city to country, geocaching interfaces for
grown-up kids and more high-spec products for the nerds who like to
monitor climatic conditions and analyse topography as they go. With
these nifty apps, you’ll never be left out in the cold. Disclaimer:
if you are, we take absolutely no responsibility.

Six of the best navigation apps for UK hikers


Perfect for: Anyone from nervy first-timers to experienced

Simply plonk your pin in any destination and a tangle of
previously trodden walking routes will pop up, all with ratings by
fellow wayfarers – very useful if you’re a nervy hiker. If you’re
heading seriously off-piste, we recommend cashing out for AllTrails
Pro, which enables you to download and follow routes offline, but
there’s really no need if you’re walking somewhere with a
half-decent network connection. Whether you’re urban rambling in
Tottenham Marshes or forest bathing in the Highlands, you can
guarantee that AllTrails will be teeming with viable routes.


Perfect for: Easily distracted ramblers with a propensity for
calamitous high jinx

“Take the next left, over the kissing gate.” Komoot’s rather
fabulous USP is its turn-by-turn voice navigation. Some might find
it a little distracting, but those who get lost in conversation and
forget to check their map (thereby leading to calamitous high jinx)
will be grateful for this vocal little app. The interface is as
technical as you want it to be. You can either plot your own route,
picking out different topographies and prioritising certain types
of path (footpath, roads, bridleways etc.) or take it easy by
picking an area and asking Komoot to draft you a hike that takes
into account local sites of interest.

The OS Maps app

Perfect for: Trad trekkers with a soft-spot for old-school map

OS? More like OG. For a while Ordnance Survey slipped off the
map, so to speak, as Google Maps became the preferred route-finder
of choice. This app matches Ordnance Survey’s iconic paper maps in
design and comprehensiveness. It doesn’t have the most dexterous
interface but, unlike Google Maps, you can easily plot paths on the
hoof with no need for internet connection, which makes it a
reliable chum to have loitering in the background if and when
things get a little hairy.


Perfect for: Those who walk and walk and walk and walk

If you’re that friend – the one whose insatiable appetite for
adventure leads you into evermore dangerous situations, and who is
uncontactable even at the best of times – this app is for you.
Cairn users plot a path and enter the estimated time and date they
expect to complete their hike. If users haven’t resurfaced from
their off-grid ramble by that point, a message is automatically
sent to their nearest and dearest. You’ll have to pay for the
privilege of using Cairn, but its alarm system works whether you’re
online or off and, at the price of your friends’ peace of mind, is
worth every penny.


Perfect for: Big kids who remain enraptured by the humble
treasure hunt

This phenomenon might have taken off a few years ago, but
geocaching remains popular among those who enjoy the simple
pleasures of a treasure hunt. The concept is simple. Open the app
and you’ll see that a selection of GPS-identifiable containers,
each filled with a log book and a “trackable” gizmo, are speckled
around your local area. Once you’ve hiked out to said geocache, you
can take its contents and replace them with something of equal
value. The entire operation is maintained by fellow members of the
geocaching community. It’s undoubtedly geeky, but fun


Best for: Visionaries who like to see a walk before they

Many of the walks on Viewranger have been pieced together by
established travel writers or given the green light by national
parks and come replete with a gallery of images taken along the
way. In brief: they’re expert-approved. Of course, you can also
upload and plot your own routes. We particularly enjoy the function
which lets you add little audio snippets and pockets of text at
moments of significance along your journey. Of all those in this
list, ViewRanger is most similar to AllTrails. It’s an all-rounder
with a hefty collection of 150,000+ off-the-peg routes stored and
ready to ramble.

Discover More
Seven of the Best Country Walks in the Cotswolds