Map Reading Basics with Ordnance Survey

Celebrate #NationalMapReadingWeek With These Map Reading Basics

Map reading is a timeless outdoor skill that can save your life. Over the years it feels like less people are learning to read maps with it often being that case that we lean more toward GPS systems. We always recommend to have a map & compass in your rucksack when out on a walk, it will always be there when the battery on your tech dies. Int his post we’ve featured some fantastic videos from Ordnance Survey which teach you some map reading basics.

So whether you want to hone your skills, or learn something completely new – these videos should be able to give you some advice.

During #NationalMapReadingWeek Ordnance Survey have collected together some resources to help teach yourself, or to importantly teach youngsters how to read a map. You can find these resources here.

It can be quite daunting to think of learning a skill like map reading, but the following 8 videos hosted by adventurer Steve Backshall were created by Ordnance Survey to develop your skills

How to Choose the Right Map
In this video Steve Backshall goes over the basic differences between the different types of Ordnance Survey map available.


Understanding Map Symbols
In this video we take a brief look at map symbols and an introduction to the legend that features in every Ordnance Survey map, that will help you decipher your surroundings.


Understanding Contour Lines on a Map
Contour lines are the way we can take the 3D world around us an depict it on a flat piece of paper. Understanding these lines can help with knowing what the terrain will be like where you are going.


How to Take a 4-figure Grid Reference
Taking a grid reference can be a great way to let people know where you are, or where you are going. A 4 figure grid reference  is easy to take and simple to remember. This reference can narrow down a location to 1km square.


How to Take a 6-figure Grid Reference
A 6-figure reference narrows down your location even further by splitting your 1km square 4 -figure reference into 100m square chunks. This can be really useful for letting people know where you are.


Compass Basics
In this video Steve Backshall takes us through some of the basic features of a compass.


How to use a map & compass to find a bearing
Using your knowledge of the compass, this video shows you how to find a bearing with your compass on your map. These are the basics of using a map & compass together.


Understanding Magnetic North
In this video you find out the difference between grid north and magnetic north. This is very important over longer distances.


We hope you picked up some helpful tips from the videos above, we found them very helpful indeed. Don’t forget you can buy Ordnance Survey maps from any GO Outdoors store.

National Map Reading Week is 16th – 22nd October 2017