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Good communication can resolve any problem even among the cacophony of today's interactions. Conversations between people are at the root of all problems and also integral to solving them.

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Map Reading

on Jun 30

Written within the structure of the Perfect 8

The use of maps is just one way to communicate to the map user, a wealth of information about an area. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially so where the picture is a map.  To fully understand the information that is being conveyed by the map it is important to know how to read the map properly otherwise much of the useful or interesting information that’s right there on the map can be lost.

Maps come in all shapes and sizes and many are designed to provide the user with specific information about the area in question. One particular form of mapping is the 3D / pictorial map which provides the user with a friendly, attractive and easily understood representation of the locality which crosses all language barriers.  It is very easily interpreted without having to understand a multitude of technical and sometimes confusing symbols.

Here are 8 Common sense tips which will help anyone to understand any map and get the maximum benefit from what it has to offer. – Baxter


By Jackie Mackay

In Brief

• First have a real place to go. Then buy a real map for it. The reason for that is because It’s easier to get an interest in learning when you have an interest in what you are learning about. Why bother about a map of Penge – unless you are actually going there?

When you are finding the way

rule number:

• 1 – You need to LOCATE YOURSELF

• 2 – Then you find your DESTINATION.

• 3 – Examine the KEY or guide. It will show you what symbols mean. Most map makers assume that the symbols are understood internationally. They are not always that obvious. Make sure they mean sense to you. For example what colour the lines for roads mean. Are they major roads or little back roads?

• 4 – Check the SCALE. This means how many miles are represented by each cm or inch. Big scale has advantage when walking. All scales have an advantage when you are orienteering. (orienteering is actively map reading prior to and during a journey. It is also a sport to compete with others in orienteering races).

Very large scale Ordnance Survey maps show the houses’ back gardens even more clearly than Google. They are mainly outlines. They show as miles or Kilometres per inch or cm.

• 5 – Work out HOW MANY MILES you are going to travel (There are sites that calculate this for you) Sometimes a map may give you the impression that a certain route is the shortest however a short route can take longer to travel depending on the gradient and size of the road.

Don’t worry about whether the North is true or magnetic. Unless you are sailing across the ocean you will not be able to read a compass accurately enough for this slight difference to even be apparent.

• 6 – TAKE YOUR TIME. There’s no rush. Gaze at the map and understand what is where – in relation to the symbols. This stage allows you to ‘Interpret’ the map – which is the stage after ‘reading’ it. You can tell from the signs where roads cross rails and then you can imagine the forest and knoll. In the country you can use a compass.

There’s not much point having a compass in central London though, unless it’s a special compass that picks up the north pole rather than the iron railings.

• 7 – LEARN THE MAP. Find your way around the atlas or folded map so that you know how the paper folds or pages work in sequence. Some map folds need practicing. People always admire a simple fold. It is best to practice so that you can fold it quickly even in windy weather. (Folding a map by trial and error is a bit ‘Laurel & Hardy’).

• 8 – MAP TYPES. Road maps, walkers (hikers) maps and marine have different purposes as well as scale – not to mention maps of airways.

When buying a map be sure to know what you want to DO and where you want to GO.

Maps look great on the wall. Nowadays you can blow up images to huge size while still retaining their sharpness. They even come as map wallpaper. There are a number of antique map shops in the central London which are worth visiting in person to see their beautiful fine detail.

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