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A Quick Guide To Ordnance Survey Maps

Updated: Aug 18

Ordnance Survey is the national mapping agency of Great Britain and is the leading provider of mapping products.


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of my links I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for full details. Happy adventuring.


Ordnance Survey Maps

The Ordnance Survey Shop offers printed and digital mapping that is used by everyone who enjoys discovering the Great British outdoors from Scouts to Guides, Hikers to Climbers, Campers to Explorers. There is something for everyone.


All Ordnance Survey leisure products can be bought online, most with free UK delivery. Top brand quality ensures that products cater to all variety of customers, whatever your interests: leisure, travel, fitness, sports, gifts and outdoor pursuits.


Map Reading

Map reading is a skill that needs to be learned like reading a book or riding a bike. It takes time to learn what the symbols, colours, features and references mean. I have put a link later in this post to some flashcards that can help you to make a start.


OS Maps come in different scales and each covers a particular area of the UK. So you can start collecting them as a hobby. They are drawn into grids to help you pinpoint the place you want to explore.


If you are serious about adventuring then taking some time to learn this vital skill is an absolute must. Being able to read a map can allow you to accurately plan your journey, giving you a good idea of landmarks and features you will pass along the route, as well as how far you will be travelling.


If you get lost, which is easier than you might think, especially on the British mountains, then the ability to navigate your way back or even able to alert mountain rescue to your location could save your life.


Ordnance Survey has some excellent beginners guides to map reading which you can find on their website here.

https://getoutside.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/guides/beginners-guides-map-reading/


Ordnance Survey Key Products

Did you know that you can buy Personalised Maps from Ordnance Survey? Yes, you really can, they make ideal gifts for any occasion.


Ordnance Survey Custom Made maps are only available through the Ordnance Survey website they can’t be found on the high street. Customers can select an area, upload a cover photo and add their own title. They are hugely popular as gifts, that are a novelty as well as practical.



Printed paper maps

Ordnance Survey holds in stock the complete ranges of OS Explorer maps and OS Landranger Maps with fast, free UK delivery. They also stock some other selected types including international maps, historic maps, geologic and wall maps.


OS Explorer maps are 1:25 000 scale and OS Landranger maps 1:50 000 scale.

Ordnance Survey has developed a strong reputation with walkers, runners and cyclists who have been reliant upon the paper map for years.

Digital mapping – OS Maps

Ordnance Survey prides themselves on both historic data and the latest browser-based online mapping tool, which now works on PC, Mac, tablet and any modern browser. It gives access to all OS leisure maps for printing, route planning, GPX file import/export and more.


You can try before you buy with free registration and easy upgrade to a full subscription to be able to access all features, complete with a choice of subscription lengths.

Historical mapping

Used by researchers, amateur and professional historians and people who are just interested in their local area, Ordnance Survey reproduction historical maps cover most of Great Britain in traditional 1 inch to 1-mile scale.



Outdoor products

Ordnance Survey sells a growing range of outdoor products, from headlamps to GPS units and camping food. Due to there strong reputation and links with outdoor enthusiast companies, they are able to offer very competitive prices. You can either buy direct from the website or have you thought about Ordnance Survey gift vouchers?

Wild Adventures

If you're spending time outdoors, a trusty map will help you to get the most out of your adventure, whether it's walking, cycling, horse riding or touring. Take a look at Ordnance Survey guides and videos to help you swot up on your map reading and navigation skills with a little help from a well-known explorer Steve Backshall.


Map Symbols

Do you know your map symbols? You can download flashcards from the Ordnance Survey website or my free resource library to play with your children and to test yourself. A great, fun way to learn the common OS Map Symbols. Just for fun, you can comment below with your answers to what the three map symbols below represent.

Don't forget you can also use the Ordnance Survey Open Green Space maps to find local parks, leisure facilities & play spaces to #GetOutside.





Over to You...

Join the discussion and let us know if you use OS Maps or have learned something you didn't know from our Quick Guide to Ordnance Survey Maps. Comment below or find us on social media @AdventureAcces using hashtag #AdventureWild


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