Contour lines

Here is a very quick and simple guide to contour lines. It is just intended to get you started so please take the time to practise and learn how to recognise the shapes of hills from contours on the map. I think this is one of the best navigational skills to learn if you want to navigate in hills.

On an Ordnance Survey map at 1:25000 scale the contour lines are narrow brown lines (to be honest they look orange to me but I’m told they are brown). You can recognise some basic shapes of hills in the following way.

Hill

image of a hill shape

Average hill shape

image of contour lines example for a hill

Contour lines for a hill

image of a hill on a map

What a hill actually looks like

Valley

image of Cross section through a valley

Cross section through a valley

image of contour lines for a valley

Contour lines for a valley (with a stream in the bottom)

image of a map showing valley

What a valley looks like on a map

Saddle

image of a saddle in a hill

A saddle – a dip in a hill

image of contours for a saddle

Contours for a saddle

image of a saddle

What a saddle looks like on a map

Convex Slope

image of a convex slope

A convex slope – steeper at bottom

image of contours for a Convex slope

Convex contours – steeper at the bottom

image of a convex slope

What a convex slope looks like on a map

Concave slope

image of a concave slope

Concave slope – steeper at the top

image of a concave slope

Contours for a concave slope/hill

image of a concave slope on a map

Concave slope on a map