New to orienteering?, Technical info

O map symbols and control descriptions explained

Prompted by a good bit of feedback from a beginner regarding the lack of a legend on the Tyrebagger map (sorry about that) here is a useful link to a page explaining map symbols and control descriptions side-by-side put together by Brsitol Orienteering Klub.

Map symbols and control descriptions explained

(NB these are for forest maps. There is a different set for urban maps which I’ll post in the autumn for our Urban Sprints Series.)

TIP There’s a lot to take in on that page so concentrate on the basics…

Map symbols – concentrate on the linear features first:
-paths, tracks
– streams, ditches
– fences and walls

Once you get more confident and start to go “off piste”:
– start to read the contours (ask at Registration for a quick lesson if you find this hard at first)
– use the vegetation information to avoid the thickest trees and bracken and boggiest marshy bits

Control descriptions – concentrate on the symbols described as being in Column D:
– paths, tracks
– streams, ditches
– fences, walls
And the symbols in Column F:
– crossing
– junction

Got those sussed? Good. Now add the symbols for the following to your control symbol vocabulary  as these are often used on easier courses where they pop up next to linear features:
– boulder
– gate
– pond
– depression (small hole in the ground)
– building
– bridge
– knoll (very small hill)

Worry about the rest later when you get onto the medium/harder courses – looks like loads when you look at that BOK page but you’ll only need about a quarter of what’s shown. And if you don’t recognise a control description just ask at Registration or go on a mystery tour and see what you find when you get there!



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Then try a Permanent Orienteering Course in a local forest or park or try one of our Street O maps for a taste of urban O.


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