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Being able to read a map can open up a whole new world around you, they inspire adventure, they allow us to escape well-worn paths and explore moors and mountains with far more confidence, self-sufficiency and safety awareness. They give us freedom, they provide a blueprint in which to plan a journey and hold vital information about the physical environment ahead.
A map and compass should be the fundamental part of any adventurer’s life, they’re synonymous. Yet, through the rise of technology the art of map reading is being forgotten, with this once simple skill being replaced by smartphones and GPS devices that tend to focus on your immediate location, rather than the journey ahead.
National Map Reading Week aims to inspire adventure, to teach children, teenagers and adults how to read maps and how they can get lost in the landscape, without ever actually getting lost! We want you to put down your smartphones, make map reading fun, to learn how to read contours, find grid references, use a compass, measure distance, break free, explore, have an adventure…
Like to test your skills? Try our map reading quiz!
Discover local map reading events and navigation training courses across
Great Britain and become a navigation pro with expert advice.
It’s rare that you'll see an OS GetOutside Champion without a map on them. Get inspired for your next adventure by finding out how our Champions use maps to explore and discover new places.
Watch map reading videos with adventurer and TV presenter Steve Backshall, covering everything from choosing the right map to using a compass to navigate.
View maps for all of Britain in a choice of scales and in 3D, plot routes or discover thousands of pre-planned routes from other users with OS Maps, our web and app based mapping system.
"Being able to read a map is a fundamental life skill and the basis of all outdoor activities. In 2017 we will be supporting National Map Reading Week to encourage everyone to improve their map-reading skills!"
Discover how contour lines on maps are used to understand
the terrain around you, including gradients of hills, valleys and steepness of
Have you ever wondered what a map scale is, or the
difference between OS Landranger and Explorer maps? Our quick guide to
understanding map scales will help!
Navigating using a map and a compass is a fantastic life
skill and complements any GPS device. Here’s a step-by-step guide
on how to use compass bearings.
Rather than just showing north, modern compasses have many features to
assist in planning and navigation. Find out what compass you need.
Using contours and relief on a map, plan and navigate in remote locations where man-made features can often be rare, by using contours to find points for triangulation and route planning.
For advanced map readers, it’s important to understand how cartographers create maps of different scales
using a process called ‘generalisation’. Find out why with this advanced map scale guide.
When you're walking, running or climbing at night or in
poor visibility, things don't always go as planned. Here's how to find your
location and never be lost again.
A critical part of navigation is being able to calculate
distance on a map, then estimate that distance on the ground to reach your next
navigation point. Here we are looking at skills for walkers and runners.
Sometimes it can be a real struggle to get kids outside, but by giving them ownership of the adventure and the right tools for the job, watch them take control and become an avid navigator.
OS GetOutside Champions, The Meek Family, love to find new ways to make maps more fun. Try their mappy treasure hunt game and discover more about map reading and how to get kids more involved.
If you would like to get involved in organising a map reading workshop or would like any other help, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.