Learn the legend - know your Ordnance Survey Map symbols

There's a lot of information on Explorer and Landranger mapPING, but only if you know what all the lines and icons on the maps mean. Here's how to brush-up on your map-symbol key skills.

Come on, let’s be candid – how many of us can tell at a glance the difference between loose rock, scree, an outcrop and a vertical cliff face? Get them wrong and you can end up falling instead of scrambling down the mountain side.
For some people, simply studying the legend of a map (the list of features detailed, usually on the right hand side of OS Landranger & Explorer maps) is enough. For others, a more interactive approach is required

Draw the symbols

Grab and pen and paper and write down the names of the features you think are difficult to remember on the left hand side of your paper. Next to them, copy, the illustrations of these features from the legend of your map. Cover the left side of your paper with the explanations and test yourself by namingeach of the features you have drawn; you’ll be surprised how easy it becomes to commit these features to memory.

Use Symbol flashcards

Ordnance Survey produce a series of flashcards that you can download, print, cut out, and use to improve your map reading skills. Revise the symbols using the supplied index of icons, then test yourself (or a friend) with the cards by turning them over one at a time and attempting to identify the meaning of the picture.