Hikers swap grid references like some people swap phone numbers. Getting the two mixed up can be embarrassing, especially if asking whether Lord Hereford’s Knob is worth mounting in the Black Mountains.
But that isn’t the end of this ramble around the national grid. With an easting and northing line for every kilometre and the requirement to number them with only two digits (00 to 99), these numbers are soon repeated. Once they get to 99, they start numbering again from 00. Therefore, the six-figure grid reference 482198 is actually repeated several times across the country.
Catskill Hiking Map Photo Gallery
To resolve this problem, each group of 100 eastings and northings is allocated its own two-letter reference. Think of it like an area dialling code. When it’s quoted with the six-figure grid reference, hikers can give accurate and unique map references. The right two-letter code should be noted on the map you’re using.
What many hikers fail to divulge is that it is very easy to get eastings and northings confused. Inadvertently swapping the two can leave one in a completely different area of the country.
Such confusion is further compounded by a pub lunch.
Bluffers who experience a similar difficulty will be pleased to know that there is an easier way to recall the correct method, although you won’t find it quoted on a map or muttered in a pub. Hikers would never dream of admitting to the use of memory techniques for their sport.
The perfect grid reference is created by going: along the corridor (eastings) and up the stairs (northings). Where you go after that is entirely up to you and at your own risk. Bluffers armed with all this knowledge can pick the right map reference with confidence.
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