Understanding map contours

Ordnance Survey maps use contour lines to join points of equal height together. Understanding contours is a very useful navigation skill because you can identify the lay of the land and landscape features as they appear on the ground. They tell you whether the ground is flat, hilly, undulating, or steep, and whether a route will be a gentle easy walk or a hard uphill slog, so you can plan your route more easily.Contours on a map

Contours are shown on Ordnance Survey maps as thin orange or brown lines with numbers on them that show you the height above sea level of any point on the line. The closer the contour lines are together, the steeper the slope. Contour lines very close together indicate a steep slope and contours further apart show a gentle slope. Continue reading “Understanding map contours”

Test your knowledge with a map symbol quiz

We thought it was about time to test your knowledge with a map symbols quiz. When you’re out and about using our well-known OS Landranger and OS Explorer Maps – do you know what all of the symbols mean? They’re there to give you valuable information about the environment you’re in.

Aside from highlighting tourist and leisure information, map symbols also provide vital information to let map readers know what to expect on the terrain they’re crossing. Information ranges from the kind of vegetation you can expect to encounter to detail on roads, public rights of way and even different rock features. If you would like to know more about map symbols, try the Simon King and Ordnance Survey video on understanding map symbols. It’s one of a series of short videos explaining the basics on using maps.

In the meantime though, have a go at our quiz and post your answers on the blog. We’ll be revealing the answers later…


Adventures in Small Scales, or, how the little blue splodges end up on our maps

If you’re a user of our maps, then you’ll be familiar with the small blue map symbols that give helpful tourist information when you’re out and about. If you’ve ever wondered how those symbols are checked and placed on our maps, today’s blog from Kim Hall, one of our team based in the East of England, will answer your questions.  

map-symbol

I spend my working week interacting with Ordnance Survey mapping data, but it’s rare that I unfold a paper map and delve into the dark arts of map reading and navigation. I was offered the opportunity to reconnect with that part of our operations and to get in the mindset of paper-map user for the day… Continue reading “Adventures in Small Scales, or, how the little blue splodges end up on our maps”

Win a signed map in our map symbol quiz

photoWe have two limited edition OS Explorer Maps up for grabs in our map symbol competition.  Ben Fogle signed OS Explorer Map 455 of Taransay and Simon King signed OS Explorer Map 470 of Shetland – Unst, Yell & Fetlar. The maps were created as limited editions at a previous Outdoors Show and on the reverse of the map covers, Simon and Ben explain why they chose the areas for their limited edition maps. To be in with a chance of winning one of the signed maps, simply identify the six map symbols in our quiz and send us your answers on the blog by 5.00 pm on Friday 22 November. Continue reading “Win a signed map in our map symbol quiz”

Map reading skills: understanding Ordnance Survey map symbols

Map extract

If you’ve studied or used a paper map before, you will be aware of the Ordnance Survey map symbols which appear on every one. These map symbols, otherwise known as a ‘legend’ or ‘key’, help us to understand what appears on the mapping we use every day at school, at work or when enjoying our free time.

An Ordnance Survey symbol is the mapping language that will guide you through every walk, bike ride, run or geocaching adventure that you go on. Think about how many buildings, landmarks, features, man made or natural, that the landscapes around us plays host to. Every feature appears on the maps you use and the OS map key helps you to understand what your map is telling you.

Map symbols also liven up your maps. The data is brought to life as image. For example, you can find out where to fish by looking for an image of a fish or find out where the nearest castle can be found by locating an OS map symbol of a castle. Simple!

Continue reading “Map reading skills: understanding Ordnance Survey map symbols”

How well do you know your map symbols?

It’s time for one of our famous quizzes…this week, following recent media coverage of people not knowing how to read their maps,  we’re testing your knowledge of map symbols. How well do you think you know the symbols that appear on our OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps? They are there to help you get the most out of your outdoor experience – whether it’s guiding you to the nearby campsite or helping you to the nearest public house if you need some refreshments on your outdoor adventure!

Test yourself on you map symbol knowledge, post your answers on the blog and we’ll let you know how you’ve scored. And if you really enjoyed yourself, try out our past two map symbol quizzes too:

http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2011/08/do-you-know-your-map-symbols/ and http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2011/12/the-return-of-the-map-symbols-quiz/

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The return of the map symbols quiz

Back by popular demand…welcome to the second edition of our map symbols quiz. In the past tree symbols were hand drawn by our cartographers, later symbols were ‘stuck’ to the map by hand and now, of course, the symbols are added by our cartographers via computer systems.

When you’re out and about using our well-known OS Landranger and OS Explorer Maps – do you know what all of the symbols mean? They’re there to give you valuable information about the environment you’re in.

Continue reading “The return of the map symbols quiz”

Try our new map symbol game

We thought we’d have a little geo-fun this week and have a map symbol game for you to try out.

To play Map Symbol Slide, you simply swap one map symbol with an adjacent one to create a line of three or more identical symbols horizontally or vertically. As symbols disappear, new symbols will slide down to fill their space.
The game is over when no more moves can be made.

Let us know how you get on and post your high scores on the blog.

If you like the map symbols, you could also try naming the map symbols in this blog post – and keep your eye out if you enjoyed the quiz as we’ll be running another one soon.

Do you know your map symbols?

It’s time for one of our famous quizzes…this week we’re testing your knowledge of map symbols. How well do you think you know the symbols that appear on our OS Explorer and OS Landranger maps? They are there to help you get the most out of your outdoor experience – whether it’s guiding you to the nearby campsite or helping you to the nearest bus station as you can’t face the walk back to your car!

Test yourself on you map symbol knowledge, post your answers on the blog and we’ll let you know how you’ve scored:

Map symbols quiz

Aside from highlighting tourist and leisure information, map symbols also provide vital information to let map readers know what to expect on the terrain they’re crossing. Information ranges from the kind of vegetation you can expect to encounter to detail on roads, public rights of way and even different rock features. If you would like to know more about map symbols, try the Simon King and Ordnance Survey video on understanding map symbols. It’s one of a series of short videos explaining the basics on using maps.

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 …