Going out for a walk? Do you know where you are going or is it a new route? Are you carrying a map?

If you’re heading for the hills or remote lowland walking then a map and compass are both essential items that you should be carrying even if you are using a GPS as your main navigational tool. Even for more straightforward routes a simple map can still be helpful if you stray off route or need to change your route mid-walk.

he “standard” maps that are used in the UK are the Ordnance Survey Landranger series for hillwalking or the Explorer series when more path detail is required at low levels. Also very good for walkers are the excellent Harvey maps. There are  Harvey Mountain maps, Superwalker maps, Ultramaps and more.

As well as the traditional paper maps, these days we now have digital mapping. Digital mapping gives you easy access to a variety of maps and allows you to print out what you need. You can view the maps on a smartphone or other device but it is still recommended that you print out the “bigger picture”.

Ordnance Survey – annual subscription for access to the latest Landranger and Explorer maps

Bing Maps – free access to OS maps although not the current ones.

If you are heading for the hills then it is important that you know how to navigate otherwise tools such as map, compass and GPS are not going to be much use to you. There are many resources available to help you learn navigation although it is a practical skill, so the more you use it, the easier it gets! You could go on a course with a qualified instructor and this would be a good option if you are a complete beginner.

Mountaineering Scotland organise a range of subsidised courses for their members (also available to non-members for a supplement). For free introductory courses (delivered by qualified professionals), check out the Mountain Aid charity. Many clubs also arrange training for their members.

There is lots of helpful advice on the internet and the following are reliable sources of information:

Mountaineering Scotland

Ordnance Survey

Mountain Safety UK

Glenmore Lodge videos

Many apps are available for Smartphones to provide digital mapping. However, smartphones are not recommended as a primary navigational tool.

If there is just one app you install for walking use, then make it OS Locate (available for Android and iOS). It does what it says on the tin, gives you the OS grid reference for your location, and is recommended by Scottish Mountain Rescue.