001 - Maps in the Wild


  1. To understand how to use a map and compass for orienteering.

Route Design

The aim is to understand how to create a detailed route card for an expedition. In your teams spread out the map on a double desk. When developing your route you need to include the compass directions, height gain, a description of what you will pass, when to have lunch etc. The more detailed your route card is the easier it will be to put in to practice.

Grid References

  • Remember to go along the landing and up the stairs. (Bottom numbers first and then the vertical ones).
  • Swiss maps have 3 numbers on the horizontal and vertical axis where as British have 2.

For those that are living in Switzerland we will be looking for 12 figure grid references!

  1. To get a basic grid reference go along the horizontal line until you hit a number to the left of the point of interest. Then on the vertical line go up until you hit the line below the point of interest. Where the lines you have identified join make an L shape and the point of interest should be in the L. This is your 4 (GB) or 6 (CH) figure grid reference.
  2. Once you have the 6 (CH) or 4 (GB) figure grid reference divide the box with the point of interest in the centre both horizontally and vertical. This will help you to estimate with more accuracy where your point of interest is. For GB mentally divide the box into 100 little squares for CH 1000 (just to make it a little more difficult). Then do exactly as you did in point one for the focus square.
Say Cheese

Compass - Things to Remember

  • The red arrow that spins always points to magnetic North.
  • The red arrow that is static should point in the direction that you want to go, it is called the travel arrow.
  • The raised circle that turns is called the compass housing (as the actual compass is inside it).
  • Don´t place the compass on or near a metal object as it will influence the magnetic arrow.
Orienteering Compass

Finding the Correct Compass Points in the Classroom

  1. Spread out the map on a desk.
  2. Line the base plate of the compass between the two points you wish to travel.
  3. Turn the compass house until the red magnetic N arrow is in line with the red orientation arrow.
  4. Once the two red arrows are aligned read the compass point at the ¨read bearing here¨ here point.
  5. Add 4 degrees to your bearing /compass point to compensate for the magnetic variation.

Using a Compass in the Wild

  1. Look at your route card and see what degree point direction you should be walking in.
  2. Turn the compass housing so that the degree point matches up with the static travel arrow. The grid lines on the compass should also line up with the grid lines on the map.
  3. Then turn yourself around until the red arrow that spins is in line with the N direction. Be careful to make sure that the arrow is aligned N and not S.

Also make sure that you are not holding the compass next to metal as the compass will be attracted to it.

Distance to Travel

  1. Using a piece of string that is not elastic, place it along the route you wish to travel.
  2. Take the string off the map and place it either along a ruler or the scale at the bottom of the map depending on the distance you are travelling. If you are travelling further than the scale at the bottom of the map you will need to convert the ratio in to actual distance.


  1. Contour lines are the brown wiggly lines on the map which are marked at intervals with numbers. On the CH maps 1:25000 the contour lines increase in 10m increments.
  2. For every 100m you travel upwards you need to add on 10minutes to your travelling time.
  3. Between the points you are travelling you will need to count the contours to take in to account the altitude you are gaining or losing.

Points of Interest

  • Try and describe all the details that you will pass between check points using the map key. It is really important for you to know if the forest/phone box/farm should be on your left or right and after how long of walking to make sure you are on the right path.

Time of Travel

  • We all walk at different speeds but you should aim to be walking at about 4km per hour. Do think about the dynamics of your group and adjust this time accordingly.