University of Edinburgh

BSL Geography Glossary - Mapreading: U-shaped valley, Hanging valley, Arêtes, Glaciation - Example

Mountains can be identified on maps through studying contours which are brown lines on the map. In the middle of this is map, the contours are very close together because the land here is very steep. The same is true for the ground opposite. The ground in the middle is much more flat lying and the contours are more widely spread. This structure is a U-shaped valley and was formed a long time ago through ice erosion. There are a number of streams in that flow into this valley and join a larger river. There are also a number of hanging valleys on this map for example, Coire Dùail. Hanging valleys are elongated valleys, with a corrie at the end, that are raised above the floor height of an associated larger and deeper U-shaped valley. Hanging Valleys are formed by smaller glaciers that feed into a larger glacier. There are also Arête structures in this area. Mountain summits can be seen on the map and are identified by the round contour lines and a number which shows the height of the summit. It can be difficult and dangerous to walk where there is scree on a slope for example to the south of the map. Hills like these can have spectacular views, but remember they can also be very dangerous