Which on-line walking route planners are the best? In the second part of our guide we are reviewing websites which focus on walks in specific regions. In this review our hiking destination is North Wales and to help us find our way around we have used the Walking North Wales website.
General / Searching for a Walk
As part of an initiative to encourage walkers to the region, this website has been created for Tourism Partnership North Wales. The simple, clean design of http://www.walkingnorthwales.co.uk make this walking route planner initially likeable, yet using the website and reading introductory text on the homepage gives the impression that it has not been written or designed by walkers.
There are four Welsh regions covered by http://www.walkingnorthwales.co.uk. They are:
- Isle of Anglesey
- Snowdonia Mountains and Coast
- North Wales Borderlands
- Coastal North Wales
Clicking through to Snowdonia Mountains and Coast brings up a list of only 22 walks, 8 of which start and finish at Trefriw. Considering this region covers Snowdonia National Park which includes some of the finest mountain scenery in the UK, this is a pretty poor show and was most disappointing. The North Wales Borderlands section contains an adequate 54 walks, but this could be improved upon given the amount of countryside in the region.
The walks are categorised as either short, medium, long distance or accommodation inclusive walks. The walks are also graded using between 1 and 5 boot icons from easy to strenuous respectively. Each hike has a summary that includes grade, distance, terrain and grid reference as well as a short summary. Unfortunately these details have not been entered in every case, since there are several walks which have a distance of zero miles!
Fresh air. Open spaces. Four walking regions. Hundreds of miles of paths and trails.
No wonder walkers love to visit North Wales. They come here to find themselves (or lose themselves) in our great outdoors. But sometimes you have to walk – just because there’s no road.
For each walking route there are links to other attractions nearby, which is useful if you are planning to partake in activities other than walking whilst you are in North Wales.
There is a keyword quick search facility which seems to work, and which also displays an advanced search on the results pages. The advanced search needs a bit of improving since it is possible to select a region and then select a nearest town that is not in that region. Unfortunately even searching using sensible parameters resulted in “Warning: Invalid argument supplied”!
The Find A Walk facility enables you to choose walks in the short, medium or challenging hike / long distance trek categories and displays their starting point on a map of North Wales.
If you are unsure where to start there are three featured walks on the homepage.
There are no banner adverts. At the foot of each page are images linking to other websites in the North Wales series, such as adventure, gardens and events, however these are un-intrusive and could be useful.
The walk descriptions depend upon the walking route. For example the Gwaenysgor – Llanasa walk description has very good navigational detail, whereas the Ogwen Slate trail has a map only. Some walks do not have a description or a map. Differences in the style and layout of the walk descriptions indicate that the walks have been taken from other sources, which is confirmed on the walk descriptions themselves. Sources include North Wales Outdoor Challenge and Clwydian Range ANOB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Again, the quality of the maps is variable with some containing more detail than others. The maps are drawings as opposed to Ordnance Survey maps, and do not include details of elevation.
There are some photographs, the number of which depends upon the walk.
The walk descriptions contain a fair amount of interesting information about places long the walking route, which is a good plus point.
Some of the detailed walking descriptions are written in both English and Welsh.
There is not any GPS waypoint data available to download.
Summary – walkingnorthwales.co.uk
This walking route planner looks good and is easy to use, but it is not as comprehensive as it appears. The walks on featured on walkingnorthwales.co.uk appear to be a collection obtained from various government agencies and tourist information offices in North Wales. The major plus point is that the walks often feature interesting information about points of interest along the walking route.
There are a lot of walks along the east of the North Wales Borderlands, however the number of walking routes featured in the rest of the region covered by this hiking route planner is far fewer than expected, especially since it covers Snowdonia National Park. If you are planning a hiking trip to Snowdonia search elsewhere!
Have you used http://www.walkingnorthwales.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…