Are there any maps of taps where I can fill my water bottles (bidons) on long rides. I live in Scotland, but would be glad to learn of the existence of such resources worldwide.

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    Also living in Scotland I can totally see where you are coming from. Cafe's don't seem to be as wide spread as in other countries, and in more remote regions, the presence of a shop doesn't necessarily mean its open.
    – Andy P
    Apr 29, 2019 at 14:40
  • Yes. I cycled 70 miles to a bike-friendly cafe yesterday. It was closed. Apr 29, 2019 at 18:09
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    "Local knowledge" is about the only answer. I've recently found a fountain behind a cafe, that I didn't know existed for years.
    – Criggie
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:43
  • Personally if in rural Scotland I would be happy filling from a stream direct to the bottle. There tend to be plenty of streams and the water is generally very pure.
    – Ifor
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


Openstreetmap with the cycle layer certainly shows some. Here's one I was very grateful for in the French Alps. OSM is not complete but it's open source so you can improve it (I haven't added any taps, but I have added bike parking). This is a good approach, as it also shows cafes and shops where you should be able to buy water if there's no tap (flipping between the "standard" and "cycling" layers can show more facilities).

In the UK, the cafes on Cafe Network will almost all be very willing to fill bottles for customers - I normally plan on a cafe stop every few hours and take the opportunity then. Pubs and coffee shops generally will too. Some chain fast food places won't - they say they can't. This is problematic late at night when nowhere else is open.

A possible fallback in the UK is churchyards - there's generally a tap outside, but no guarantee the pipes aren't lead.

It's possible to query OpenStreetMap for drinking water by modifying the following link to give an appropriate bounding box (the last 4 comma-separated numbers):


changing value=drinking_water to value=water_point returns some more (e.g. next to canals, for filling boat tanks).

Of course some are on private land. I've seen campsites and schools showing all their water points. But that's fairly obvious from zooming in. The bigger downside is that many are missing.

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    In fact reviewing OSM for this prompted me to add a missing cafe on the same ride I stopped at that spring/fountain/tap
    – Chris H
    Apr 26, 2019 at 21:01

In the USA free tap water is virtually universal, and I was able to fill up my water bottles at any fast food restaurant and convenience store I stopped at, all over the country. A switch on most restaurant soda fountains will dispense plain tap water. I also filled up at local parks and roadside rest areas.

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    We've had issues round here with 24 hour McDonald's saying they can't - it's good to hear that's not the case everywhere.
    – Chris H
    Apr 27, 2019 at 7:15
  • @ChrisH In that case, "can't" clearly means "won't". The US has two big advantages in this regard: building codes typically require water fountains in areas that are for public use, and free refills in fast food places mean that the dispensers are usually in the customer area, rather than behind the counter. Apr 27, 2019 at 10:08
  • @DavidRicherby of course, but after riding all day reasoning with some poor kid on minimum wage in McDonald's is beyond me (and pointless). It's acceptance or getting grumpy.
    – Chris H
    Apr 27, 2019 at 12:08
  • @DavidRicherby There are obvious food hygiene issues if a container "of unknown provenance" has to be taken into the "kitchen area" to be filled. AFAIK in the UK pubs (and probably restaurants) are legally required to serve plain water to customers, but not required to provide the customers direct uncontrolled access to it.
    – alephzero
    Apr 27, 2019 at 18:52
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    @alephzero And these "obvious food hygiene issues" magically disappear if the drinks dispenser is on the public side of the counter. Weird, huh? And, even in the UK, the drinks dispenser isn't in the kitchen; it's in the counter area, where it's handled by staff who've been handling coins all day. Coins are filthy. Apr 27, 2019 at 20:04

In the UK, we used to pay tax for public services, now everything has been privatised but we still pay loads of tax. There was a time when most railway stations, bus stations, high streets all had drinking fountains. All of these have been removed, for people to buy plastic water and then throw in landfill. I had thought at one point the access to free clean drinking water was a defining mark of a civilised nation.

On a less pessimistic note, using a map to find water courses, coupled with a handheld water filter, or bottle filter should see you right somewhere like Scotland. They are surprisingly affordable, and some claim to remove 99.99% of bad stuff, seen inline filters for drinking bladders.

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    You're absolutely correct, but this doesn't address OP's question, (unless time-travel is the underlying answer.) I'm going to edit your comment into the answer to make it more useful.
    – Criggie
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:45
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    I am tempted to down vote as its not an answer, but a rant this good gets +1 from me :)
    – mattnz
    Apr 29, 2019 at 20:09

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