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Free Map Reading Guides

OS Team • Map Reading • Jul 20, 2023 • 10 minutes

Map Reading Guides

Learn to map read for free with these guides from National Map Reading Week, which aims to inspire people of all ages and interests to get outside, find adventure and make memories. Reading a map can take you off the main paths and discover new places - we’re here to help you learn how!

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Map reading quiz

map reading quiz 

Take the map reading quiz!

Map reading guides

Download our free map reading leaflets: Map reading made easy for children and Map reading - beginners to advanced for adults or teenagers. You can even print or save them to your phone!

Map reading for beginners

lady with a map

Beginner's map reading skills

Do you know what contour lines are? Can you use a basic compass? Would you like to know how you can measure distance on a map? Our collection of beginner's map reading guides will help get you started in no time.

Advanced map reading skills

two men reading a map

Advanced map reading skills

Already got the basics but want to improve your navigation in difficult situations? Learn how to pinpoint your location when lost and read contours to identify the terrain. Check out our advanced map reading guides.


It's recommended you carry a paper map as a back up to any digital mapping on your device. Buy any OS Explorer or Landranger paper map and save 15% on a waterproof map case or an OS Compass including the all new OS Mirror Compass. 

Map reading for kids

Instil a love of the outdoors that will last a lifetime. From toddlers to teenagers, teaching children about maps at any age will set them up for future adventures and keep them safe. Our extensive range of map reading guides especially for kids will help.

father and son map reading 

Map reading skills for children

More on map reading

Map Symbols

OS Map symbols

Understand map symbols

Do you know what every symbol, line and colour means on an OS Map? This guide to map symbols will help you better understand a map, do you know where you can go and what you can do there. 

Teaching resources

family learning to map read

Map reading educational resources

Whether you're a teacher or a parent, take a look at our Education Resources for project ideas and teaching aids, plus find games to play in our fun MapZone area.

Shaun the Sheep's Countryside Code

Shaun the sheep countryside code

With the help of Shaun the Sheep, find out more about how you can enjoy the outdoors responsibly.

OS Maps how-to guides

Check out our 10-part how-to video guides for everything you need to know about using OS Maps.

OS Maps digital

Get on and offline access to all 607 leisure maps in the palm of your hand and choose from hundreds of thousands of routes or create your own. 

Map reading fun

Help kids learn more about the outdoors and become a map reading expert the OS Kids Adventure Book.

Packed full of fun puzzles and challenges to keep them entertained for hours. This book is perfect for kids aged eight and older and helps take map reading offline.

Published: Jul 20, 2023 Edited: Sep 19, 2023

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Get outside & start exploring the outdoors with OS Maps

From planning & creating your own routes, or discovering ready-made ones; to following & recording your progress and staying on track; OS Maps puts mapping & navigation tools at your fingertips to make it easy for anyone to get outside safely and discover the outdoors.

Download on the Apple App Store Download from Google Play

OS Maps

Never explore without one! Stay safe, and stay active with Britain’s most accurate outdoor maps.

Be inspired to do more and go further by equipping yourself with the best tools for the job. Our maps are built on 220 years of experience - we keep walkers, runners, cyclists and more safe in the great outdoors all year round.

Available from local outdoors retailers, bookshops and our online OS shop.

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