By: Blonde One

How do you mark your map?

When I’m out on a walk, wherever I am and whoever I’m with, I like to mark my map before I go. This helps to make sure I don’t lose where I am on the map and helps to identify features near to the one I am looking for. I have two main ways of marking my map as seen in the pictures but there are disadvantages to both:

  1. Circles in Sharpie: this is a good way to identify specific features that I am looking for such as cairns. trig points, etc. However it is not so good at helping me to work out which way to walk to get to that feature. As a Gold DofE group once taught me too, sun cream will gradually erase Sharpie marks.
  2. Pencil route plans: this is a much more thorough map marking system and is the one that I suggest to youngsters when I take them out. It allows you to mark your route and also identify check points along the way. Using a dashed line either side of the footpath helps to make sure that you can still see what it is you are supposed to be walking on (minor road, footpath, etc). The checkpoints get a circle. The disadvantage is that if there is a deviation required (to avoid cows, rivers in spate, etc) the route on your map might get in the way of the actual route you need to follow. Also, as with the Sharpie and sun cream, pencil will soon rub off.

Blonde Two has been seen to use an elastic band on her map to help ‘keep her eye in’. It’s really annoying when you keep losing your place on the map, so elastic bands help to find your location quickly. My preferred method for this is know as ‘thumbing’ the map. If the map is folded small enough, as in the picture, keeping your thumb next to your location helps. You just need to move your thumb as you walk every few hundred metres.

Learn to map read this summer!

Whichever method you use, well done for being able to use a map! If you need a refresher, check out our courses to learn how.

Going on holiday – buy a map to take with you!

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