Seven Reasons to Learn Map Reading

This summer I was lucky to be one of the leaders on a five-week British Exploring Society expedition to the Canadian Yukon. On that trip we trekked high hills, paddled rivers and camped wild in a remote wilderness. It was challenging, physically, mentally and emotionally. But it also forged the kind of friendships, and made the kind of memories, that last a lifetime.

The expedition was an extension the simple process of getting outside – of working out where you are and where you need to go. And the things that got many of us started in this were maps. From the hills of Dartmoor to the rivers of the Yukon isn’t quite as big a journey as you might think.

So for National Map Reading Week, I wrote an article for the Ordnance Survey’s #GetOutside campaign. It’s about why reading maps matters – with seven reasons to learn ranging from seizing adventurous possibilities and understanding our environment, to feeling empowered and finding a path in life:

If songwriters are the philosophers of our times (and they are) a sense of feeling lost is a powerful thing. Whichever generation you’re from, whoever gets your toes tapping you can bet your last landmark that words linked to being uncertain, dislocated and adrift crop up.

Do You Know Where You’re Going To? Dianna Ross (1975); Mariah Carey (1998)

Wake Me Up, Avicii (2013)

Do You Know the Way to San Jose? Dionne Warwick (1968)

Maps, Macy Gray (2012)

“(Is This The Way To) Amarillo? Tony Christie (1971); Peter Kay (2005)

If that’s got your navigational toes tapping, check out my full article and my Music To Read Maps By Spotify playlist.

And you’ll find plenty more GetOutside map reading tips and outdoors inspiration on the Ordnance Survey’s GetOutside website

For a full flavour of the British Exploring Yukon trip,  watch my expedition video


Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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