Map art for beginners

Fi Darby (Two Blondes Walking) By Fi Darby (Two Blondes Walking)

Why not have some daily GetOutside fun and create your own map art? GetOutside Champion duo TwoBlondes show us how.

For many of us, with the end date of UK lockdown still not clear, our daily local exercise has become an important way of relieving the physical and mental stresses of family and work life.

If your daily walk, run or cycle is starting to lose its interest factor and you feel like you’ve explored all of your local green spaces, how about enjoying yourself with a bit of creative map route art.

Map Route Art - Sheep Dog Dinosaur

Getting outside locally

As an outdoor writer I’ve recently been restricted in my research possibilities but have enjoyed the creative side of local exploration. I

’m one half of GetOutside Champion duo Two Blondes Walking and Lucy and I are used to regularly walking together as well as teaching navigation and wild camping skills.

We miss doing that but have been having lots of virtual fun in separate towns setting each other indoor/outdoor challenges and getting creative with OS Maps.

Map art for beginners

Neither Lucy nor I are particularly artistic but we are both creative in the ideas department, which is why I probably found myself walking/drawing a picture of the Covid-19 virus for my first route art attempt. I discovered two things straight away:

  1. It’s amazing what patterns you can find in your local streets
  2. I’m far better at navigating with a map than drawing with one

Lucy and I quickly progressed to writing each other route art messages and had fun, first with our Two Blondes initials (B1 and B2), and then with a whole message for all of you.

Map Route Art Covid

We split up the letter walking/writing, used some letters twice and made a few mistakes along the way (for example, look closely and you will notice a reversed N).

Creating route art is great fun as well as being good for you, and the great news is you can do it on a run or cycle as well as a walk. It doesn’t matter how far your daily exercise takes you, you can draw pictures over any distance. There are plenty of impressive examples online but we recommend keeping things simple to start with.

GetOutside Inside Map art

How to create your own route art

  1. Charge your phone
  2. Find your location using the OS Maps ‘Standard Map’ layer
  3. Use the ‘Plot a route’ feature to plan your route. (You’ll need to walk a continuous line)
  4. Walk/run/cycle to your start point
  5. Use the ‘Record a route’ feature to record your route trace
  6. If your route doesn’t trace well, try travelling slower or quicker
  7. Take a screenshot of your completed route
  8. Save your completed route

Ordnance Survey has created a great ‘Quick Start’ guide to using OS Maps but the very best way to improve your route art is to have a go. Why not try tracing your daily exercise today; you will also be able to find out how far you’ve walked and how many metres of hill you’ve climbed.

Once you get going with map route art, you might find it hard to stop. Don’t forget to share your images with us all on social media using #GetOutside #OSMaps and tagging OS on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Happy mapping!

Published 05/05/2020.

Fi Darby (Two Blondes Walking) By Fi Darby (Two Blondes Walking)


Fi Darby is a freelance copywriter and blogger and the co-author of the successful outdoor blog Two Blondes Walking. Fi now runs her own blogging and copywriting business Fi Darby Freelance and works with some great clients from all over the world (including Australia and Argentina).

Find out more about TwoBlondes.