Which on-line walking route planners are the best? In the second part of our guide we are reviewing websites that include walks in particular regions. For this review we are walking in Scotland with Walk Highlands…
General / Searching for a Walk
If you are planning a walk in Scotland then look further than Walkinghighlands.co.uk. This walking route planner contains an enormous data base of free walking routes, 1,104 at present.
The homepage contains quite a lot of information without being too busy, and photographs that make you wish you were out walking in the stunning Scottish countryside. From the home page you can select a region from a list of counties. Moving your mouse over the name highlights the area on a map of Scotland. Alternatively you can simply click on the map. This takes you to a list of areas within the county, again you can select from a list or using the interactive map. Clicking through takes you to a table containing the walking routes. The table contains the walking route name, grade, distance and time. The grade is symbolised using a walking boot icon, 1 for easy on well defined paths up to 5 for hard hillwalking including quite difficult scrambling.
From the menu on the homepage you can select Highlands, Islands, Lowlands or long distance walks. The “walks” menu changes as you proceed through counties, areas and walks.
The no.1 guide to walking and accommodation in Scotland
You can search for a walk using Google site search or try using the “Find-a-walk” feature that lets you choose from a host of various parameters including distance, grade, ascent and area. You can also search for walks including features such as waterfalls, castles, artworks, beaches, wildlife hides and more. Within the features choice you can choose to All or Any of the features that you have selected, but if you choose several and select All, you might not get any results. The search results are displayed in a list and on a map.
Other features of walkhighlands.co.uk route planner are the forum, personal walking route diary, Munro, Corbett and Graham location map and personal summit bagging records as well as the useful Gaelic place-name pronunciation recordings.
Information on accommodation in the locality of the walk can also be found on walkhighlands.co.uk.
There is some banner advertising on walkhighlands.co.uk.
The walk description starts with a summary and information about the walk including terrain, starting point name and grid reference, distance, grade, ascent, time, bog factor, user rating, public transport, pronunciation guide and summits climbed.
Bog factor is rated from 1, where the walk is usually completely dry underfoot, up to 5: It’s a swamp. Snorkel recommended!
Walkinghighlands has GPS waypoint data available to download.
You can view the walking route Virtual Highlands, in Google Earth or on an OS Map.
The actual walk description gives an adequate amount of navigational detail. It provides some commentary about the difficulty of the terrain as well as providing some notes of interest. There are plenty of photographs showing views and features along the hike. There is also an elevation graph.
Virtual Highlands Mapping
This has got to be the best feature to be found on any walking route planner. Virtual highlands is a Google Earth type 2D and 3D mapping view that can be used to assess the walking routes. Each route has been mapped as lines connected by waypoints. Easy walks are in green, moderate in blue and hard in red. The start point of hike is denoted by a walking boot icon. Accommodation is also shown, with different icons for campsites, hostels, b&b etc. You can zoom in and out of the 2D aerial view by height. The 3D first person view allows you to follow the route along the terrain in order to get an idea of the ascent, descent and view. The quality of the graphics is not photographic quality but it is reasonably good. The relief of the terrain in first person view is impressive but probably does not show how truly vertiginous ridge crossings are. The view of the north face of Ben Nevis from Carn Mor Dearg is worth a look. Scramble across the arete ridge to the summit. The view from the top of Scotland’s highest mountain extends as far as the eye can see!
Summary – walkhighlands.co.uk
Walkhighlands.co.uk has an large selection of free walks that can be found through various search options, including search by dynamic maps and advanced search options. The walking route descriptions have detailed summaries, contain lots of photographs and points of interest. As well as Ordnance Survey maps, you can view the hiking route on Virtual Highlands 3D mapping which is great fun to use. If you are planning a hiking trip to Scotland walkhighlands.co.uk is great website for finding walking routes.
Have you used http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk? Were you able to find a suitable walking route? Was the information provided useful and accurate? Let us know what you think! Add to the review using the comments link below…