What is my map telling me?

Having been an avid reader of this blog we’ll have persuaded you to buy an Ordnance Survey map so you can make the most of your time outdoors. Now you’ve bought your map (thank you very much) you’re sat wondering what the map is telling you. This is where we (being Ordnance Survey and Simon King) come to the rescue.

First of all – let’s look at map symbols …

Each Ordnance Survey map has a legend somewhere on it – could be at the top, bottom or down one of the sides. This legend is unique to the map you are looking at and will help you decipher the symbols that have been used on the map – everything from roads, rights of way, access land, natural features of the land, tourist information symbols and much more.

As you look at the map you’ll notice that there are orange/brown lines swirling all over the map. These are contour lines …

The contour lines match up points of the land that are the same height above sea level. As you follow the line around you’ll see a number – this is the height on that line. The number is always written with the top of the number at the top of the hill – so if you are reading the number upside down you are looking down the slope. Always remember that the closer the lines are together the steeper the slope.

Now you know what your map is telling you …

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