Map Reading

Maps are simply an accurate picture of the ground as seen from above, scaled down from life size, and with symbols to show particular features and landmarks. – See more at:

Choosing the right map is essential.  It may sound obvious, but you don’t want to be out in the hills trying to navigate with a road map!  I always use the Ordnance Survey Explorer 1:25000 maps.  These maps are high detail maps that also include useful features such as field boundaries.  However, it’s not just about choosing the right map, it is also about knowing how to use it.

Map symbols:

Get to know the map symbols.  These are here to help you, and could help you out in case of emergency; you may need that phone box to call for help when you have no mobile phone signal.  Below is a PDF of 1:25000 scale map symbols, courtesy of Ordnance Survey:


Get familiar with your map:

Make sure that you know all the features that are along your route, and if the path splits, which direction you need to go.  Too many people have gone wrong because they weren’t paying attention to their map and the path splits, leading down the wrong direction.  Ordnance Survey have published a comprehensive guide to map reading for both beginners and advanced users alike.  You can either read it on their website here, or open it as a PDF via the link below:


There is nothing that can replace the hands-on experience of learning out in the field. I have a range of masterclasses to suit your needs. These range from simple map reading skills to the more complex expedition planning. Have a look through our masterclasses and see if there is anything there that will help you. For more information, please contact us.