What is a map?

What is a map?

It sounds a bit obvious, but what exactly is a map...

(Image courtesy of Ordnance Survey - Crown Copyright)

What is a map? 

What is a Map?


Maybe an easy one, but it’s a good place to start! For the purposes of hill walking and the outdoors, maps are a representation of land features viewed from above and drawn to ‘scale’. The top of the map will always point to North*

You can have a map drawn in a guidebook, but typically such maps are really diagrams and not drawn with the accuracy that you would expect from an Ordnance Survey or Harveys map. Use your guidebook to help you to plan your route with ideas about where to walk and interesting features en route, but never as a primary means of navigation. There are several reason for this: the guidebook map may not be to scale; if you walk off course you cannot use the book to take you back, as it covers only where you should be. Primarily, if you find yourself in an emergency situation, you cannot read and quote a grid reference from a guidebook to pass your location to the emergency services.

With the advancement of technology you can get full Ordnance Survey maps on your PC, on GPS devices and even mobile phones. But, a maxim to follow is that you should always take a proper map on your walk into the hill.

*The top of a map will always point to North, and in the context of UK hill walking, that north will Grid North