Map Reading For Hiking
October 26, 2016 at 1:26 PM
Get back on track
With GPS navigation gadgets and mobile phone map apps mor popular than ever it’s not surprising that art of map reading is dying.
However, research by mapping agency 'Ordnance Survey' shows the British public’s navigational skills to be far poorer than imagined.
A survey-type test called for 2000 people up and down the country to plot various locations, from towns to national parks on an outline map of Great Britain.
Some 40 per cent plus struggled to locate London and only 14 per cent could accurately pin-point Edinburgh’s exact location. It was a comparable story for Snowdonia and the Lake District.
Despite these results, more than 50% of those surveyed believed their understanding of geographical locations in Britain was “good” or “excellent”.
However, only 40% thought they could accurately read a map and 10% have never used a paper map in their life.
Now OS are hoping to get more Brits back on board as they launched an all-new National Map Reading Week.
From October 17 to 23, the week-long event focused on inspiring and educating adults and children to learn map reading and navigation.
OS state there are many reasons why being able to properly read a map is beneficial.
Nick Giles, MD of OS Leisure, said: “Map reading, whether on paper or digital, is a vital skill that we should all have as a back-up when the sat-nav goes wrong.
“At OS we are about making sure that people know how to use a map when they get into difficulty.
“We hope that the new national map reading week will and encourage people to experience amazing adventures in Britain thanks to map reading.”
OS have enlisted the help of adventurer and TV presenter Steve Backshall for the campaign.
Steve, best known for BBC’s Fierce, knows from personal experience the vital skill of being able to use a map.
He said: “Modern navigation toolshave pretty much changed the way we navigate, but there's no substitute for maps.
“Maps never run out of batteries, wifi or satellite signal and they have saved my life on several occasions.”
Steve has produced a series of useful map reading and skills videos, one of which is shown below.
Find out more about map reading
For information about map reading log on to OS at www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk and make use of many free resources, new ones will be revealed this week.
Already the website offers a host of educational resources, games, videos and on-line workshops.
Four tips for better map reading
Don’t be afraid: Many people are scared of maps because they look too complex or even daunting. However, the basics of reading a map are relatively simple and if you learn some of the symbols you’ll find that maps are fun.
Family games: Look for lots of great ideas on the OS site or try geocaching (www.geocaching.com) for fun map reading skills as a family. For example, you could let the children lead the adults!.
Learn from the experts: Book one of the many map reading and/or navigation courses across the nation and learn the art of practical map navigation form the experts. It’s a lot easier to learn when you are actually doing it our in the open.
Do what you shouldn’t (not really): Buy a GPS device or map app and create a route to follow. Websites such as ViewRanger and WalkHighlands are great and very useful for downloadable routes. Then aim to navigate the route by map and compass and use the GPS only as a back up.