Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

what3words - A New Mapping App

Ted Wolfe, Signpost Volunteer

This article is from Signpost 66, Winter 2020

what3words is a free app which can be downloaded onto any device. I am sure some readers will be aware of it, but others possibly not.


what3words has covered the entire globe with a matrix of three metre squares, each one with its own individual code. The principle is similar to the Ordnance Survey grid reference, but, I believe, more precise. An example would be Taylor House, its grid reference being SJ90257 90235, the what3words equivalent being “”.

The OS will show an excellent map of the position, whereas what3words shows a mediocre map, but an excellent aerial view. If using a mobile phone the app will show the exact position of the three metre square you are standing in, where you are represented as a blue dot.

It can also be used as a navigational aid, which can be saved, shared or photographed. I have found it excellent in locating and logging such things as PNFS signposts, bridges etc.  A good example would be S354 in the Weaver Hills. We recently had to replace it on a concrete base. It is sited in a huge rather featureless field, the grid reference being a bit 'iffy' at SK10723 46286, but we now have an exact three metre square of the site at webcams.homing.dawn which can be saved as a red dot for any future use.

It can also be used in preference to say, post codes, in difficult to locate areas. I feel sure that once used and familiarised with it will become an invaluable tool on your travels. Once a three metre square has been identified and its three word code saved, it can be revisited by simply typing in the code. So get out and give it a go. I would be surprised if you were not delighted with the results.

Next: The Big Picture

Page title:what3words - A New Mapping App
If you'd like a reply, please include your contact details.
Your message is being sent.
Your message has been sent. Thank you.
Message sending failed - sorry. As an alternative you might like to try the Contact the webmaster form.