Navigating the Landscape

Have you ever thought about the difference between the ability to read a map and the ability to navigate? Despite their similarity they are quite different skills.

To read a map you need to know how different symbols and topographical features are used. For instance, blue symbols are associated with water, and the distance between contour lines shows a slope’s gradient.

Navigation, on the other hand, is the ability not only to read the map, but use this information to locate where you are in relation to the surrounding landscape and from there, determine the way ahead.

Man's hand pointing on street map

“Bushwalkers know that ‘setting the map’ is perhaps the most important of all navigational skills”

Bushwalkers know that ‘setting the map’ is perhaps the most important of all navigational skills. It involves positioning the map so surrounding features line up with your location. It doesn’t matter if the map is upside down or sideways, knowing where you are in relation to everything else is critical.

That’s why it’s dangerous when visibility diminishes and features in the landscape become hard to see. When this happens maps quickly lose their usefulness.

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