Skills | Map Reading | Map Symbols

We are going to learn how to read Ordinance Survey maps, starting with map symbols. There is also a map symbol bingo card for you to play map symbol bingo with.

Contents

Part 1 | Learn Your Map Symbols

Introduction

A | Footpaths | 1-6

B | Roads | 7 – 12

C| Transport | 13 – 17

D| Places To Stay | 18 – 20

E | Places To Eat | 21 – 22

F | Places to Visit | 23 – 31

G | Help! | 33 - 41

H | Geographical Features | 42 - 49

I | Utilities | 50 - 53

Part 2 | Sample Maps

Ripley

Castleton

Part 3 | Map Symbol Bingo

Introduction

Play at home

Part 4 | Map Symbols List

Part 5 | Badges

Navigator

Skills

About This Page

Part 1 | Learn Your Map Symbols ⭱

Familiarise yourselves with the common map symbols below.

Introduction ⭱

To play map symbol bingo, the first thing to understand about maps, are map symbols.

These are the lines, graphics and other drawings that describe features of the land covered by your map.

I have grouped the most common ones below.

You can find out more here: Ordinance Survey.

Please have a look at them before our next Zoom meeting!

At the end of this page are some map extracts – see if you can identify the symbols on those maps.

We will also try some in our zoom meeting.

A | Footpaths | 1-6 ⭱

National Trail

A line of diamonds means a national long-distance walking trail or way. An example is the Pennine Way.

The diamonds can be green or red. They can also be shown by a blue boot or a green acorn.

See: Pennine Way.

Footpath

A line of short dashes means a local footpath through fields or over hills.

The line can also be made of red, green, or black or orange dashes.

Bridleway

A line of long dashes means a bigger track between fields that can be used for walking or riding horses.

Again, these dashes can be red, green, black, or orange.

Footbridge

A small wooden or metal bridge over a ditch, river, or road.

Cycle Route

A road lane or off-road lane for cyclists. Off-road is unfilled circles.

Mountain Bike Route

A track suitable for having fun on your mountain bike.

B | Roads | 7 – 12 ⭱

Motorway

These are always blue (unless it is a river!).

They are national high speed roads.

Main Road

Usually red, but my be green if they are really important "A"-roads (also known as trunk roads).

Also known as "A"-roads, linking towns and cities.

They used to be the main national roads of Britain before Motorways were invented.

Minor Road

Usually orange or yellow.

Also known as "B" roads.

These are smaller side roads and country lanes, iinking villages with towns.

Track

Usually white.

This might be a farm track or other rough local road.

Bridges

These are bridges under and over other roads or water.

Steep Roads

The black chevrons mean that the road is very steep.

Perhaps going up or down a mountain.

C| Transport | 13 – 17 ⭱

Train Station

The pink blob is the station.

A thick black line on the map is a railway line.

May also be indicated by the words "Sta".

Level Crossing

A place where a railway line crosses a road, and you have to walk across the railway line.

It will normally have barries that automatically come down when a train is coming.

Bus Station

Speaks for itself.

Parking Space

A place where you can park your car on a day out.

Helipad

A place where helicopters can land and take off.

D| Places To Stay | 18 – 20 ⭱

Camping Barn

An unmanned rough barn or hut where you might take refuge and sleep for the night.

Youth Hostel

A manned dormitory for young hikers to stay at.

Campsite

A manned field where you can camp or park your caravan for the night.

E | Places To Eat | 21 – 22 ⭱

Picnic Place

An area with outside tables for you to stop and have a picnic.

Pub

A public house.

May also be indicated with "PH".

F | Places to Visit | 23 – 31 ⭱

Battle Site

A site where a battle between two armies took place in history.

The symbol is crossed swords.

Church

A square church means that it has a square tower.

A round church means that it has a spire.

National Trust

An area of our country that is preserved for visitors by the National Trust.

It might be an old house, or some countryside.

Leisure Centre

A place where you can go for a swim, or to the gym.

Theme Park

A place with rollercoasters, like Alton Towers.

Castle

Some castle ruins that you can visit.

Viewpoint

A place high up where you can have a view over some countryside.

Nature Reserve

A lake, marsh-lands or other places where you can see birdlife.

Such as Carsington Water.

Roman Ruin

A place where you can see the ruins of a Roman building, when the Romans occupied our country 2000 years ago.

You never know, but you might be a descendent of a Roman!

Golf Course

Where you can play golf, of course!

G | Help! | 33 - 41 ⭱

Buildings

Pink boxes are buildings.

They could be houses, shops or other buildings.

Information Point

A tourist information place where you can get local information.

Telephone

A place where you can make a telephone call.

It is red if it is an emergency phone.

You can always dial 999 from a Phone Box for emergency help if you have no money.

Toilet

A public toilet.

May also be shown as "PC" – public convenience.

Police Station

Post Office

School

Hospital

Fire Station

H | Geographical Features | 42 - 49 ⭱

Contour Lines

These are lines to show slopes and hillsides.

Every point on the line is the same height above sea-level.

The numbers indicate how many meters above sea-level you are.

The sea is always treated as the lowest point.

If the lines are close together, that means a steep slope.

If the lines are further apart, that means a shallow slope.

Cliff

This means a dangerous cliff edge. Stay away.

Quarry

A place where we have dug stone or coal out of the ground.

Wood

A woodland area.

Green background.

The type of trees will be indicated.

This image is for broadleaf trees.

Grassland

A grassland area.

Marsh

A wet marsh area – could be dangerous.

River

Light blue means a river or wet area.

Not a motorway!

If a road has dotted lines through a river, this means a "ford", where you have to drive your car through shallow water!

Field

Field fences and hedges are marked by thin black lines.

They only appear on very small scale maps.

They are very useful for working out where you are if you are following a path. Count the fields you have walked through.

Here are some examples of how contours might look on a map:-

Here are some examples of how water might look on a map:-

I | Utilities | 50 - 53 ⭱

Electricity Line

The triangles indicate pylons – a tower to hold the wire.

Wind Turbine

A windmill that generates electricity for us.

Solar Farm

A field full of solar panels used to generate electricity for us from sunlight.

Mast

A transmitter mast, such as for mobile phones.

Part 2 | Sample Maps ⭱

Some sample maps to find some map symbols on.

Ripley ⭱

How many different symbols can you recognise in this map of Ripley (Click here for full size map).

Can you find out where you live?

Castleton ⭱

How many different symbols can you recognise in this map of Castleton (Click here for full size map) in the Peak District.

Part 3 | Map Symbol Bingo ⭱

Introduction ⭱

In our next meeting we are going to play map-symbol bingo.

I will read out the names of different map symbols and you must find and mark them off on your bingo card.

The winner is the cub who marks off all their map symbols first.

It is a game of chance, because I will read off all the map symbols at random.

Download the bingo card here: Bingo Card.

I have put each cub's name against their card.

Play at home ⭱

If you want to play map symbol bingo at home, then print of the PDF, and allocate a row of symbols to each player.

Nominate one person to be the bingo caller, and they can use the list in Part 4 below (pick randomly from the list – and use the tick box to remember which you have picked).

If you click on a heading below, it will reveal the map symbol – good for practice as well.

Part 4 | Map Symbols List ⭱

Click the heading to reveal the map symbol. Use the tick box to mark off what the bingo caller has called out.

001 | National Trail ⭱

A line of diamonds means a national long-distance walking trail or way. An example is the Pennine Way.

The diamonds can be green or red. They can also be shown by a blue boot or a green acorn.

See: Pennine Way.

002 | Footpath ⭱

A line of short dashes means a local footpath through fields or over hills.

The line can also be made of red, green, or black or orange dashes.

003 | Bridleway ⭱

A line of long dashes means a bigger track between fields that can be used for walking or riding horses.

Again, these dashes can be red, green, black, or orange.

005 | Cycle Route ⭱

A road lane or off-road lane for cyclists. Off-road is unfilled circles.

006 | Mountain Bike Route ⭱

A track suitable for having fun on your mountain bike.

007 | Motorway ⭱

These are always blue (unless it is a river!).

They are national high speed roads.

008 | Main Road ⭱

Usually red, but my be green if they are really important "A"-roads (also known as trunk roads).

Also known as "A"-roads, linking towns and cities.

They used to be the main national roads of Britain before Motorways were invented.

009 | Minor Road ⭱

Usually orange or yellow.

Also known as "B" roads.

These are smaller side roads and country lanes, iinking villages with towns.

010 | Track ⭱

Usually white.

This might be a farm track or other rough local road.

011 | Bridges ⭱

These are bridges under and over other roads or water.

012 | Steep Roads ⭱

The black chevrons mean that the road is very steep.

Perhaps going up or down a mountain.

013 | Train Station ⭱

The pink blob is the station.

A thick black line on the map is a railway line.

May also be indicated by the words "Sta".

014 | Level Crossing ⭱

A place where a railway line crosses a road, and you have to walk across the railway line.

It will normally have barries that automatically come down when a train is coming.

015 | Bus Station ⭱

Speaks for itself.

016 | Parking Space ⭱

A place where you can park your car on a day out.

017 | Helipad ⭱

A place where helicopters can land and take off.

018 | Camping Barn ⭱

An unmanned rough barn or hut where you might take refuge and sleep for the night.

019 | Youth Hostel ⭱

A manned dormitory for young hikers to stay at.

020 | Campsite ⭱

A manned field where you can camp or park your caravan for the night.

021 | Picnic Place ⭱

An area with outside tables for you to stop and have a picnic.

022 | Pub ⭱

A public house.

May also be indicated with "PH".

023 | Battle Site ⭱

A site where a battle between two armies took place in history.

The symbol is crossed swords.

024 | Church ⭱

A square church means that it has a square tower.

A round church means that it has a spire.

025 | National Trust ⭱

An area of our country that is preserved for visitors by the National Trust.

It might be an old house, or some countryside.

026 | Leisure Centre ⭱

A place where you can go for a swim, or to the gym.

027 | Theme Park ⭱

A place with rollercoasters, like Alton Towers.

028 | Castle ⭱

Some castle ruins that you can visit.

029 | Viewpoint ⭱

A place high up where you can have a view over some countryside.

030 | Nature Reserve ⭱

A lake, marsh-lands or other places where you can see birdlife.

Such as Carsington Water.

031 | Roman Ruin ⭱

A place where you can see the ruins of a Roman building, when the Romans occupied our country 2000 years ago.

You never know, but you might be a descendent of a Roman!

032 | Golf Course ⭱

Where you can play golf, of course!

033 | Buildings ⭱

Pink boxes are buildings.

They could be houses, shops or other buildings.

042 | Contour Lines ⭱

These are lines to show slopes and hillsides.

Every point on the line is the same height above sea-level.

The numbers indicate how many meters above sea-level you are.

The sea is always treated as the lowest point.

If the lines are close together, that means a steep slope.

If the lines are further apart, that means a shallow slope.

043 | Cliff ⭱

This means a dangerous cliff edge. Stay away.

044 | Quarry ⭱

A place where we have dug stone or coal out of the ground.

045 | Wood ⭱

A woodland area.

Green background.

The type of trees will be indicated.

This image is for broadleaf trees.

046 | Grassland ⭱

A grassland area.

047 | Marsh ⭱

A wet marsh area – could be dangerous.

048 | River ⭱

Light blue means a river or wet area.

Not a motorway!

If a road has dotted lines through a river, this means a "ford", where you have to drive your car through shallow water!

049 | Field ⭱

Field fences and hedges are marked by thin black lines.

They only appear on very small scale maps.

They are very useful for working out where you are if you are following a path. Count the fields you have walked through.

050 | Electricity Line ⭱

The triangles indicate pylons – a tower to hold the wire.

051 | Wind Turbine ⭱

A windmill that generates electricity for us.

052 | Solar Farm ⭱

A field full of solar panels used to generate electricity for us from sunlight.

053 | Mast ⭱

A transmitter mast, such as for mobile phones.

Part 5 | Badges ⭱

Navigator ⭱

Navigator Badge

"Stage 1.2 Identify a number of features or locations on that map. You could pinpoint locations like the toilets, car park, bird hide or picnic area."

Skills ⭱

Skills Challenge Award

"Take part in three activities to help you be healthy. Activities could include: healthy eating; exercise; learning how the human body works; another activity agreed with your leader"

About this page

Author

This page was created by Julian Turner, Section Assistant Leader, Falcon Pack, 1st Ripley Scouts, Derbyshire, UK.

Related Links

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