Map reading - one of the most important skills

17.02.2021 | Written by Samo M., Y12S

This is one of the most important skills that you will need to know when going on an adventurous journey.

Map reading

Map reading will make sure that you will be able to read a map and get from point A to point B or start to finish. This is an especially important skill when you are in charge of the route planning and map reading. But remember that everyone in the team needs to know how to read a map. There will point during the hike during which you will be stopped by the award leader and a random member of your team, not the map reader, will be asked to tell them where you are currently located.

For an introduction to the map reading skills I would recommend checking out this link, as it gives you a basic understanding of how to read a map and how to use a compass, through videos: 

Now as those videos are for the UK maps, I will mention a couple of differences between them and the ‘Slovak’ maps.

This is an example of a map of the area around Kamzík, which you should be familiar with if you live in Bratislava.

Coloured routes

On our maps we have colour coded routes (red, blue, yellow etc.), like you can see on the map above. These make it easier for you to navigate in the forest.

Turistické značenie

Each route has a corresponding colour, on this tree you see that that specific pathway follows the red, green and yellow route because they most likely overlap. If you look at the example map, in order to get from ‘Pri Červenom moste’ to ‘Kamzík, lúka’, you would need to go along the red route, so in reality you would be following the white/red signs on trees or pillars like the one in the picture above.


Checkpoints are places that are that are marked on the map and look like this:

A black and white dot with the name of the place. Or on some maps they look like little red pins. It really depends on the map, but they usually have a name next to them. 

When you are hiking these are the signposts with the name of the checkpoint and directions on them, like this one:

Turistická značka – Wikipédia

Here you will be able to look up which direction you have to go to get to the next checkpoint on your route plan, how many kilometers away it is and the estimated time it will take to get there.

Symbols on the map

Every map has slightly different symbols, standing for things like campsite, castle, parking etc. It is always important to look at the key of the map for you to be able to know what each symbol means. An example of a key is this:

Climbing Path Map Symbols.... >> See more by checking out the photo link | Hiking  trail maps, Hiking trails, Camping checklist

Note: This is isn’t the key of the example map

It is usually located at the bottom of the map. If you receive a map from your award leader that does not contain a key, then you should ask them to explain any symbols that you are not sure about what they mean.

In the next article I will describe how you are supposed to create a route plan. In that article you will be required to know the things described in this article about map reading.