• Places to go

Outdoor places to visit near you

By Mary Malyon

Published on 5 min read


Explore from your front door

Get outside more often by exploring from your front door. Whether you like to take the kids to a park, the dog for a walk or yourself for a run, we take a look at how to find new outdoor places to visit near you.

You don’t need to travel far for an adventure. We discovered this during lockdown, but promptly forgot when the world re-opened in a rush to see and do EVERYTHING. Once again, life feels non-stop and it’s no surprise that some of us are burning out or re-considering our priorities. If this resonates, now’s a good time to take a deep breath, hang-up your car keys, pocket your passport and explore from your front door instead.

You can polish your halo as well, because as well as reducing stress, human-powered travel is infinitely better for the environment. It’s not bad for your wallet either, so pack a picnic, grab the bikes, scooters or even a battered pair of trainers. You don’t need fancy equipment, just an open mind and if you needed another reason, our annual National Get Outside Day, is the perfect time to start.

father and son skating 

Get outside more often

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when travelling from home — your walk to school, bike ride to the local park, or your regular run. Like a pair of slippers, following the same old route is comforting but, dare we say it, a wee bit boring. Could you challenge yourself to find a new running trail? Or discover a secret oasis of calm amidst the urban buzz, a pond or a patch of woodland? Perhaps there’s a park nearby with some shiny, new play equipment? Or a dreamy canal-side walk? Or the ideal spot to fly-a-kite or perfect your downward facing dog — or, in fact, walk your real-life pooch. The list goes on. Challenge yourself to find one new route or outside space per week.

How to find outdoor places near you

This sounds fine, but how do you find these mythical places? Well folks, you’re in the right place. Ordnance Survey maps, both on and offline, have all the information you need, and we can help if you need a hand translating those squiggly lines and coloured patches. Digital OS Maps, both in mobile app and desktop versions, is a good place to start. The two main features you need to know about are called ‘greenspaces’ and ‘routes’, and they’re both free to non-subscribers.

Local greenspaces

Yes, you guessed it, we’re talking about spaces that are green — think playing fields, public parks, and recreation grounds. It’s worth bearing in mind that although most of these spaces are open to all, some may be restricted, for example golf courses. Keep an eye out for information on the ground. There are greenspaces for dog lovers, greenspaces for cyclists, greenspaces for families, greenspaces for the over 60s, the list goes on!

These greenspaces are visible in OS Maps online as a ‘Layer’. Layers are visual representations of data layered on top of a standard map, for example coloured blocks representing different types of land use and lines representing different routes, for example ‘National Cycling Network‘ or ‘National Park Pathways’. Some layers are reserved for OS Maps subscribers and some, including the greenspaces, cycle network and pathways layers, are available for free.

Still unsure? Read this Beginner’s guide to OS Greenspace.

Trails, footpaths and walks near you

Another nifty, free feature on digital OS Maps (both the app and online) is the ability search for routes created by our trusted recommended route partners like Country Walking and Trail Magazine, British Cycling and La Sportiva. You can search routes specifically for walking, running, road cycling, mountain biking, horse riding and even paddling. This is a wonderful way to push yourself to explore the outdoors in different ways, safe in the knowledge that someone has tested the route beforehand. You do still need to take care of any potential dangers though, including busy roads and rivers. Always remember to follow the countryside code.

Stepping outside your front door

If you want to dig deeper, consider an OS paper map focusing on your home patch. With our Custom Made maps you can place your home at the centre. Pour yourself a cuppa, pull on your virtual hiking boots and plan your next local adventure from your kitchen table. Use the map legend to translate all those lines and icons, then dive into a hidden world of rare orchards, secret wells, places of worship with spires, minarets, or domes…glasshouses, lighthouses, windmills, Roman villas, Medieval battle sites, the list goes on. Who knew your patch was so rich with potential experiences? If you really do catch the map reading bug and want to learn more, browse our free map reading guides.

custom made OS Map

Pocket-sized Custom Made map

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By Mary Malyon


Digital Maps

Use OS Maps to see more detail including footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and rights of way.

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Use OS Maps to see more detail including footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and rights of way.

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