Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you won’t have been able to miss navigation app ‘what3words’ arrival in the range of apps any mountain biker must have. A big launch promo campaign across social media, and more recently a refresher campaign coupled with the opportunity to buy into the company have firmly put what3words in the minds of riders when it comes to considering navigation.

On the surface it’s a nifty little idea – the planet is split into 3 metre squares and each on of those has three words attached to it. The idea being that if you don’t know your ///chromosome.slams.decisive from your ///campsites.workbooks.chess when it comes to finding a grid reference, you can whip out your phone and quickly find your what3words location.

All sounds very simple, but what3words has been received with equal levels of welcome and scepticism; with people questioning its effectiveness amidst reliance on signal and battery and others querying the financial intents of the company behind the tech.

I’m not here to pass judgement and god knows I’m vaguely qualified to do so, so earlier this week I asked the best people with the skills to make the call. A simple question; what3words…? yes, useful; Prefer grid references; or either work for us?

Here in the Peak, Woodhead, Edale and Holme Valley Mountain Rescue Teams are the brilliant volunteer groups who regularly pick up crocked mountain bikers from the hills.

You can’t underestimate their skill and dedication.

If you see a mountain rescue pot, put some change in it. And should you ever need them, you want them to be able to find you quickly and easily. So it was brilliant to get their direct insight to what3words.

UPDATE: It’s also brilliant to see what3words themselves join in the debate. Welcome to the discussion folks, and thanks for contributing.

You can read the responses to the poll here and make up your own mind on how you find your location when you’re out there.

Take a look at what they say. Definitely interesting stuff.


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