Choos­ing a map

Trail (UK) - - Contents -

Q Is 1:25,000 the most de­tailed map­ping you can get for the UK? Stephen Tyler, via email

Lyle says Ev­ery­thing about map scales sounds con­fus­ing and hope­fully this an­swer will make it much sim­pler. The di­rect an­swer to your ques­tion is no, 1:25,000 is not the most de­tailed map­ping you can get; larger scale maps are avail­able and some very use­ful. Larger scale sound con­fus­ing? Let’s clear this up now.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween dis­tance on the ground and dis­tance on the map is known as the scale of the map. It is al­ways ex­pressed by what 1cm on the map rep­re­sents on the ground. On a 1:50,000 map, 1cm on the map rep­re­sents 50,000cm on the ground. This sounds con­fus­ing, yet if I tell you that ev­ery 2cm on this map equals 1km on the ground suddenly it be­comes mean­ing­ful and use­ful. On a 1:25 000 map ev­ery 4cm equals 1km on the ground, which is why we de­scribe this as a larger scale map than the 1:50,000.

A lot of moun­taineers use Har­vey’s 1:12,500 Sum­mit maps, where 8cm on this map equals 1km on the ground. With these very large-scale maps you get ex­tra clar­ity and de­tail, per­fect for dan­ger­ous ar­eas such as some moun­tain sum­mits! Larger still at 1:10,000 Ord­nance Sur­vey maps are used by ori­en­teers, with some clubs even us­ing OS 1:5,000 maps!

OS maps of the same area at dif­fer­ent scales (l to r) 1:25,000, 1:10,000 and 1:5,000. All are avail­able from spe­cial­ist map sup­pli­ers online.

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