Contours on the map are the brown lines drawn on a map connecting points of equal height above sea level. They are labelled with the height and with the topes of the figures uphill. A contour labelled 500 is 500m above sea level, and every place on that contour is precisely 500m above sea level. On a 1: 25, 000 map, they are usually 10m apart. If contours are very close together that means the hill is steep. However, is they are wide apart, it has a gentle gradient.
When describing direction, the normal method to use if by taking bearings. If you look at the housing of compass you can see that it has 360 tiny divisions on it. Bearings are one of the useful and the most accurate of describing directions. They are always given as three figures so that they should have 0 as the first figure if they are less than 100.
Regarding conventional signs, they are small symbols, shapes or signs on a map which have specific meaning. They are usually listed down the right-hand side of a paper map. It is important that you learn them as it will make your map reading a lot easier and improve your map skills that are necessary if thinking of joining uniformed services in the future. Depending on the map, different conventional signs are used. The bigger the scale is, the smaller the conventional signs are. The Ordnance Survey produces a range of maps that are particularly important to the uniformed services in one way or another. Those types of maps include: Route in a scale of 1: 625, 000 which is one of the smallest scales even though the numbers seem so big. This specific map is suitable for long distances as well as motorway driving. It would be very useful for the armed forces, who might be based in the south and want to do exercises in the Scottish Highlands. Main roads are clearly marked on this map, but there are few small details. Road in a scale of 1: 250, 000 with quite a small scale that is ideal for motoring. It gives a clear picture of all the main roads so as features, however it omits small details such as footpaths which means that it is useless for walkers. Land ranger in a scale of 1: 500, 000 with a medium scale. It could be used for local motoring or simply walking, although it gives walkers less information than for example the Explorer map due to the smaller scale. It is very good for getting to know your local area, seeing what to do in local towns or even planning your simply outdoor activities that would be very useful for the Army and their challenging fitness activities. Explorer in a scale of 1: 25, 000 which is a pretty big scale for the walker’s map. The Army uses it for training purposes and in navigation exercises. It gives ideal information for country area. Also, it is very useful to mountain rescue as you can see all that you need on the map. Land plan in a scale of 1: 10,000 which is a very big street map scale. OS Land plan is the ideal solution if your project demands maps with clear details but need to cover a large area. It provides an excellent overview of the lie of the land with fences, road names, field boundaries as well as building names.
Regarding cardinal points of the compass there are thirty two of them, however only sixteen of them are normally used in map reading for the description of direction. There sixteen are the four cardinal points and twelve intermediate points as shown in the diagram above. The intermediate points are combined with cardinal points which are: NNW = North North West. Those points describe direction only to within one sixteenth of the full circle. For more accurate of direction it is necessary to use sub divisions of the circle using ‘’mils’’ or ‘’degrees’’. The Mils System divides the circle of the compass into 6400 mils, the zero being the North Point. One of the examples that the mils system can be used could be by the Army to give greater accuracy than...
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