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Guide to OS Maps symbols

OS Team • Map Reading • Jun 28, 2022 • 5 minutes

Find out what every symbol means on an OS Explorer map

This simple map reading guide explains every map symbol on an OS Explorer map (1: 25 000 scale), most popular for walking and cycling. Learn what each map symbol represents on the ground and how you can find points of interest, access land and public rights of way to make the most of your time outside.
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Have you ever studied a map and tried to work out what a symbol or line meant? Debated with friends and family over what it could represent? We've all been there!

Map symbols do more more than help you navigate. They help you find new and exciting places like castles, nature reserves and even pubs. They teach you about the history of the area and allow you to plot the best routes with ease. And last but not least, they show you where you can and can't go, protecting both ourselves and nature. These map symbols can be seen on OS Explorer maps and of course, our very own OS Maps app.

Map symbols OS Explorer Map

Map symbols OS Explorer Map

Public rights of way

OS Map Symbols for public rights of way

OS Map Symbols for public rights of way

Public access

OS Map Symbols for public access

OS Map Symbols for public access

Access land

OS Map Symbols for access land

OS Map Symbols for access land

Roads

OS Map Symbols for roads 

OS Map Symbols for roads

Railways

Map symbols for railways 

Map symbols for railways

General features

General features OS Maps symbols 

Map symbols for general features

Abbreviations

Map symbols for Abbreviations

Map symbols for abbreviations

Archaeological and historical information

Map symbols for archaeological and historical information

Map symbols for archaeological and historical information

Boundaries

Map symbols for boundaries 

Map symbols for boundaries

Heights and natural features

Map symbols for heights and natural features 

Map symbols for heights and natural features

Vegetation

Map symbols for vegetation

Map symbols for vegetation

Tourist and leisure information

Map symbols for tourist and leisure information

Map symbols for tourist and leisure information

Unique map symbols

Access land (Scotland only)

Map symbols for access land in Scotland 

Map symbols for access land in Scotland

Now you know what every map symbol on an OS Explorer map means you can make the most of your next adventure, while impressing your family and friends! Please note, OS Landranger 1: 50 000 maps include some different symbols.

Take a look at our free Map Reading Guides to learn more about map reading.

Published: Jun 28, 2022 Edited: Jun 29, 2022

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