Southwold & Walberswick

Map reading & Off-shore wind farming, England’s East Coast

Thank you to Ailish for sending this Ordnance Survey Map postcard

The reverse of the card shows where the map above is located:

Here’s another map of the area:

Thank you to Claire for sending this traditional style tourist map postcard

Geography Cat loves both these types of map, and many others besides. But let’s have a closer look at the Ordnance Survey one and try a bit of map reading with it:

To do your own just stick your card down and use a ruler to extend the grid lines. It’s easy to see what the numbers should be for the horizontal lines, the northings. Geography Cat found the eastings (the vertical lines) by looking on the Ordnance Survey website and finding the correct longitude of a specific site:

Ordnance Survey Limited (GB)

With all grid lines numbered we can begin reading the map and giving grid references. What is the four figure grid reference for this square?

The correct answer is 4973. If you got it wrong try putting a capital “L” in the square:

The first stroke of the “L” lies along line 49, and the second stroke goes along line 73. That makes 4973.

Now let’s try starting with the grid reference. For example, which farm can be found in grid square 4777?

Remember the “L” – Vertical line first, horizontal line second:

Lime Kiln Farm can be found in grid square 4777

Another way of finding the square is to go “along the corridor and up the stairs”. Read the numbers along the bottom from left to right, then go upwards and read the northings:

Along the corridor and up the stairs

If you read along the corridor and up the stairs, you can check you’ve found the correct square by checking the “L”. If the lines don’t form an “L” then your answer is incorrect:

Remember the L by remembering Love OS Maps

The Ordnance Survey have some excellent resources and Geography Cat cannot recommend them highly enough, find them here.

The sea in squares 5173, 4972 and others might appear to be featureless, but you might be surprised by what you would find if you travelled nearly 30km east of Walberswick.

Galloper Wind Farm is a cluster of 56 off shore wind turbines, towering 180m above the water and sunk up to 36m into the sea bed. Or, to the south east, an even bigger wind farm, Greater Gabbard:

Location map from

Winds out at sea tend to be faster than over land, therefore off-shore wind turbines can produce much more electricity. Off-shore wind is also more constant and less variable, meaning a more reliable energy supply. The energy produced is renewable and does not create carbon or other greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. They do not emit any chemical pollution, they don’t use water resources and they create employment. Off-shore wind farms are connected to coastal settlements and industrial areas and meet local energy needs.

However, they are very difficult and expensive to build and maintain. Storm winds and powerful wave action can damage the turbines, requiring dangerous and expensive maintenance. The undersea power cables are also expensive to construct, lay, and to maintain. For this reason it makes sense to build wind farms slightly closer to the coast, however they run the risk of being visible if they are less than 40km from the shore, potentially ruining the view. The construction and operation of off shore wind farms has an unknown effect on marine animals. It’s unlikely to be good for them, but energy production never is. Perhaps it’s not just time to think about greener energy production, but also curbing energy demand?

Thank you Val and Pete for this postcard of Southwold
Val & Pete sent this card too, many thanks to them both
Thank you to Ailish for this postcard. Look back at the OS map postcard and see if you can locate the lighthouse, send Geography Cat the six figure grid reference for it, and if you’re feeling particularly inspired you could also tell him which direction the photographer was facing when they took this photo. Send your answer to Please do NOT write it in the comment section below, that would ruin the fun for future readers!
Thank you Sheila for this postcard. Geography Cat loves the beach huts especially.
Another beautiful card from Ailish, thank you.

3 Replies to “Southwold & Walberswick”

  1. Love the OS and Tourist Map Postcards! I have never seen an OS Map Postcard, so a real treat.
    As always, an educational, entertaining and interesting post. Thank you Geography Cat.

  2. Geography skill 101 – Reading grid points off a map! Takes me back to my school days where I found this quite difficult. Geography Cat, thanks for showing us how do do this!

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