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Shape and Space

Bearings and Compass Directions

We use Bearings to describe the position of things or places by measuring the clockwise angle of the item relative to North (0°). We already know that there are 360 degrees in a circle, so by using 3 digits, we can represent any direction.

The four major directions (known as Cardinal Points)
on a compass are:

North (N) ..... 000°, (or 360°)

East (E) ..... 090°,

South (S) ..... 180°

West (W) ...... 270°


The half-cardinal points are also shown on this compass

North-East (NE) 045°,       South East (SE) 135°,

South-West (SW) 225°   and     North-West (NW) 315°

The magnetic needle always points towards the North - so you have to line the compass up with this before you can use it.

If you were asked to walk on a bearing of 90°, you need to line up the compass with North and then turn 90° clockwise and then walk in that direction - which would be East.

To return to the original position you would need to turn 180° - so add 180° to 90° and you get a new bearing of 270° - Line up the compass and turn 270° and then walk in that direction - which would be West.

Practice using bearings with these worksheets from Primary Resources

Directions       Jack Sparrows Compass

        Compass Points       

Compass Directions            Mouse Hunt 1

Mouse Hunt 2

Treasure Map 1
         Treasure Map 2

CAT4 / 12 Pus papers