Cycling, Discovery, Tips & advice, Trail Running, Walking

Great ideas for National Map Reading Week

14 Oct , 2016  

With the advent of GPS navigation gadgets and mobile phone mapping apps it’s hardly surprising that art of map reading is waning. But a map and compass, and being able to read them, are vital for many walkers if they want to stay safe in the countryside.

Being able to navigate also enables people to experience amazing new adventures, too, such as enjoying a walking route or heading off for a cycle tour.

Now UK mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS), hope to get more people using maps as they launch a new National Map Reading Week.

From October 17 to 23, the week-long event will focus on encouraging and supporting adults and children to learn the skills of map reading and navigation.

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Map advice from the experts

OS has enlisted the help of adventurer and TV presenter Steve Backshall for the campaign. Steve knows from personal experience the importance of being able to use a map.

He says: “Modern navigation tools like GPS, satnav, mobile downloads and apps have pretty much changed the world but there is still no substitute for maps. Maps never run out of batteries, wifi or satellite signal and they have literally saved my life on more than one occasion.”

Steve has produced a series of useful map reading and skills videos that can be accessed from the OS website.

The organisation has also teamed up with British endurance adventurer Sean Conway to promote National Map Reading Week. The #GetOutside ambassador will be spreading the word about the importance of map reading.

A spokesperson says: “Having run, cycled and swum the length of Britain’s coastline, he knows a thing or two about using our maps to get about so it’s a great ambassador to have on board.”

For information about National Map Reading week log on to OS at www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk and make use of many free resources, some of which will be revealed this week.

Top tips for better map reading

Don’t be afraid of maps

Many people shy away from maps because they think they are too complex or even frightening. Some people think they are not clever enough to read a map but it’s simple when you know how. Once you learn some of the symbols and basic techniques you’ll find that maps can be a lot of fun.

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Play great games

Kids are more likely to want to learn about navigation and map reading if you make it fun. And so are the adults! Ordnance Survey has lots of helpful map reading and navigation games for all ages. Try Geocaching, too, which takes the form of a modern digital treasure hunt.

Lots of advice

Check out the Macs Adventure map reading blog section for advice such as “How to Pinpoint your Location on a Map” and “How to Use Grid References”.

You might also benefit from joining a map reading and navigation course. Skilled navigation coaches will teach you the skills of practical map reading. It’s easier to learn when you are actually outside, rather than at a desk.

Men versus women

Men and women tend to read maps in a different way. It’s not that one gender is better at map reading but, in general, they often think and plan in a different way. Ladies might prefer to sign up to women-only navigation courses if they fancy.

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Do what you shouldn’t

Buy a GPS device or download a map app on to your smartphone and try to follow a route. You can also follow the route with a map and compass and see if the GPS agrees.

Learning how to use a map can bring you a great deal of pleasure. Just ask those that already can!

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A journalist, web copywriter blogger and social media chatterbox, Fiona combines her love of the outdoors – especially Scotland – with a diverse freelance work life. If she's not at her desk writing about the outdoors, she'll be outside cycling, running, kayaking, snowboarding and walking Munros. She shares her outdoors passion with partner, the G-Force. Sometimes her teenage daughter Little Miss Outdoors tags along, too.