How to Read a Road Map

Already many of us are losing the ability to read a road map. The next generation of drivers have found that there is absolutely no need as Sat Nav does it all.

However there are a few die hard critics out there who don’t like to place 100% trust in an electronic device and so back up their Tom Tom with a good old fashioned map. (That’s us!)

We’ve seen when sat nav has gone wrong, we’ve been in the car when our great aunt has driven up a narrow public footpath convinced it was the way. We’ve watched with horror as cars have cut across pedestrian areas as they blindly follow the sat nav voice, forgetting it doesn’t instantly update its database every day.

That’s why we think it’s always best to get a second opinion, just to check that Tom Tom is telling the truth.

London 013A

Here’s a quick lowdown on how to read a road map.

Stay on the Grid

Road Maps make finding locations easy. Places are listed alphabetically while a grid with letters and numbers make it easy to find your city or town.
For instance, York, p.46, B3 – go to page 46, find B along the side and 3 across the bottom. Follow to where these two meet in the middle and York will be right in front of you.
When planning a journey it’s always best to find the destination first.

The Legend

The Legend is basically a key showing you the different designs used for different roads and walkways. As a rule, large roads such as motorways and A roads are thicker than country roads and B roads. Legends vary from map to map so make sure you check which is which.

Wrong Direction

The compass is there to show which direction you’re facing. It’s useful, especially for those who like to turn the map I order to visualise the direction in where they are going.



Maps are normally produced to a pretty accurate scale, so using a ruler or even your finger you can gain a rough idea of how long the journey will be.

It’s not so hard to follow a road map and can make the journey a lot of fun. As landmarks and other areas of interest are usually detailed on the map you will find that you may see places you wouldn’t if blindly following a sat nav.
Give it a go, shake it up a little and try it just the once!