I got contacted today by an app developer who has brought out an app (for Android initially I think) for people looking to do the West Highland Way.
I’d love to do this path / trail its entirety – on my bucket list, as having driven up most of it (and walked a tiny part + one mountain at the northern end) it’s a beautiful part of the world.
And I have family in Erskine / Paisley and as a boy we had day trips to Loch Lomond. And I’ve travelled up and down the road to Inverness a few times as an adult and always wanted to stop and wander a while..
Alas I don’t have the time just now – but (and this sounds like an Ad, it isn’t!) .. if I was to do it I’d download this App for sure, it looks really useful.
I’ve got viewranger which of course handles all the GPS, route marking and more but this looks a bit more specialist with local knowledge thrown in. One of the neat things for this App, I think, is it looks to have a diary feature. so you can jot down notes at stopovers.. handy for blogging types (yes you can blog on the go but having a facility in the app for diary notes seems a nice touch ).
Some info from the developers:
“For the first time, a guide to Scotland’s West Highland Way long distance path is available for Android phones and tablets. People can use it to plan their route and accommodation in advance and also day-to-day as they walk the route.
The app can display a map of the route overlayed with the locations of essential facilities such as hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, shops, transport links, etc. Users can move around the map and touch a location to see information about the facilities there, including links to the appropriate website for further information. So people can find the best accommodation options and link straight to their websites for contact details and booking.”
Looks like they are going to do bespoke apps in a similar vein for other long distance paths. nice one.
My son just put me on to a new app from the British Geological Survey – iGeology 3D.
It’s only available on Android (maybe it was too onerous / time-consuming / costly to develop an iphone version? not sure.)
We’re going to give it a proper test drive (walk) on Saturday – I like the idea of being able to identify what you are walking over and above, wherever you are in the UK. And with the surface landscape still available to see.
I think there is already a Geology map available for your phone from the BGS but this adds an extra layer (excuse the pun) of interest for when you are out and about.
It also means I may write slightly more accurate descriptions of the rocks I’m trudging over in future posts!
I did a short (no doubt, by hardcore Hikers standards) 4 hours on a local walk / hike this morning – up the Wessenden Valley , onto the Pennine Way and then back down across part of Saddleworth Moor to Marsden.
I used the Viewranger GPS app , now installed on my phone – although I’m still figuring it out. I kept the phone dry despite the truly APPALLING rain that son Joe and I had put up with for most of the time. Summer? I don’t think so. The horizontal rain and strong winds made our faces hurt. Meh. The phone stayed dry because the really cool Aquapac arrived in time on saturday and its a great little bag. The camera lens was a bit obscured by part of the non-transparent case but I think that’s because I kept my chunky bodyglove / bumper case on the phone. If I took that off and kept just the phone inside the Aquapac then it would be a fine fit, I’m sure .
Witness this slightly blurred photo – although that could be down to the weather rather than the case obscuring part of the camera lens..
As well as testing out the Aquapac, I was also working out how to use the neat service offered by socialhiking that can be used with Viewranger.
I like the fact that this site / app service was set up by a guy who loves what he does (hiking) and was initially meant for him to be able to share a charity walk he was doing with friends.
It’s a shame the map of the route only showed 3 beacons / locations of where we were; as it looks a bit odd. The idea was that Viewranger would send out a ‘beacon’ location of where I was (or rather, where my Aquapac-d phone was) every 15 minutes. So you would get a good / smooth plan of my progress (if I had chosen to share the map with anyone). But for some reason it didn’t. No problem, as this was just a little test / local walk. But if I do the national 3 peaks (say) I’d like to have my progress viewable with more granularity on a public map which is an option in socialhiking.
I did more than 11km, not that I was counting distance – this was just a nice walk out with the always agreeable and reliably geologically (and music, amongst others things) knowledgable company of Joe.
Anyway, here’s the map as it stands..
So, I’ve decided that before I attempt the national 3 peaks I need to make sure I can find my way up and down them. Obviously paper maps are a must – actually, learning to read one properly is a must also – but I’m a geek so I also want to try out a GPS system. I’ve looked at the dedicated units and they look really cool – the expensive colour screen ones do anyway. Of course, always the way – I really like the full bells and whistles versions of things.
But I noticed a while back (and I think I’ve mentioned here before) an App from viewranger that works on the HTC phone (running Android) that I have.
Its taken me most of this evening to set up an account, suss out how to get credits registered (via my Paypal account, which is nice and easy of course) and have a quick look at what maps you can buy, so I haven’t really got a view on how it all works yet. Although I’ve had a really quick look at the wiki, which is good – and the fledgling / beta community area. What I haven’t done yet is download any maps or get my head around the actual App interface. Which looks feature rich – or in other words a bit (initially) tricky for me to digest in on evening after a mental day at work.
So I’m going to give it a real go this weekend with some small (ish) hills around Saddleworth.
Better to suss the App out there than for the first time in earnest halfway up Scarfell Pike..
I realised two things tho – my phone isn’t waterproof and also the battery life on The HTC Desire HD sucks. Bit better than an iPhone but still it wouldn’t last one mountain trek, let alone the 3 Peaks in 24 hours.
Problem one has been solved by buying this : http://www.aquapac.net/worldstore/land-electronics-phone-pouches-1054-0.html
Which looks good and is going to be better than the sandwich bags (oh yes) I’ve been using as rain protection to date
I now need to find a great solar charger attachment gizmo for Problem 2 and the extended hours out and about.
Review of Viewranger (the App and the extended community / wiki / guides support etc) to follow
As will be obvious from some of my initial posts, I’m pretty new at planning biggish walks/ hikes.
A site for planning hike routes I’ve stumbled over which is really good is the Ordnance Survey’s ‘getamap’ site / planning tool. This is UK only so I can’t point any USA vistors to a similar service but I’m sure one exists.
I think my friend Jeff mentioned it to me in passing and I googled it as it sounded like a really useful site for planning then printing bespoke maps. You pay for some features but the costs look good and if you’ve got a Garmin GPS system I think you can transfer data between the website and the handheld device. Nice – that’s a gadget for another day
I just centered on my village, looked at doing about a 10 mile walk this weekend to keep my hand (feet) in and having quickly plotted a route, I get a cool map. With automatically refreshed distances as I plot along the footpaths I choose to follow and estimated completion times at the bottom of the screen as I drew the route out. That’s really neat.
Actually, I extended the plotted route to 14 miles and according to Naismith’s rule, should take me just short of 6 hours.
I’d never heard of Mr Naismith before, always good to learn new facts.
Experienced hikers will know the service already but I’ve posted about it here if you are a hiking noob like me.
My route, for the curious amongst you: