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Get your Bearings with a Map

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Learn how to use a map and your surrounding to help you get your bearings

It's an essential navigational tool to help you stay on-course during a hike

Leading the World -
Voice-over by Dominic di Rollo

They contributed
eloisemayscott - Sikana
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Find your bearings on a map and in the countryside

In this video, you will learn how to find your bearings with the help of a map and the countryside.

This method is not very precise, but it is quick and easy to uset, and often enough to find your way.

In this, you will learn how to match the map to the terrain based on landmarks, so that what is on your left is also to the left on the map, and so on.

Use a topographic hiking map, preferably to the scale of 1:25000.

To find your bearings using the map and the countryside, remember these three stages: locate landmarks or define features in the countryside, find these on the map, and orientate the map accordingly.

Firstly, locate landmarks in the area. Look around and try to identify various landscape features.

These can be human elements such as villages, specific buildings or roads, but also natural elements such as hills or lakes.

Finding lines, for example, the edge of a forest, a path, or a river is sometimes easier than these features if you are out in the open.

Secondly, find these features on the map. Unfold your map, and try to locate the different landmarks or elements that you have identified.

To do so, you can also use the information provided in the map's legend to help you.

Thirdly, orientate the map. Once you have found the different elements on the map, turn the map so that it points towards the landmarks in the countryside.

You now have your bearings! You will find yourself roughly at the intersection of the points of observation.

When you walk on a path or road you can also easily confirm your position.

The most common error is to take the map out a few hours after beginning the walk: at this point it might be too late to situate yourself. Take the map out right at the beginning and situate yourself as often as possible.

To sum up, so as to find your bearings with the help of a map and the countryside, you simply need to locate landmarks or key features, then find these on the map and orientate the map accordingly.


Next video

Sikana - How to Use a Compass
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