Which on-line walking route planners are the best? In the second part of our guide we are reviewing five websites that include walks in particular regions of the UK. In this particular review we are going walking in the city with Walkit.com.
The urban walking route planner
Whilst walkit.com does cover the most of the UK, it is region specific in as much as it a walking route planner for a the urban environment. The aim is to help people who live in cities get some exercise and reduce their carbon footprint. It differs from other walking route planners because it dynamically creates walking routes in much the same way as on-line car journey planners. So for example you can you use it to help you plan a walking route to work, the pub, the shops or your friend’s house etc. The design of http://www.walkit.com is uncluttered and allows ease of use, although it could benefit from a photograph or two to help provide inspiration to get people walking.
To create an urban walking route you must first select your city from a drop down menu. You can then enter your start and finish locations as well as adding any additional places that you wish to travel via. It is possible to use place names or postcodes. Then you can choose between a “direct route” or a “less busy” route. There is also a “low pollution” route available for some places.
The direct route generally keeps to main roads, whereas the less busy route utilises minor roads, footpaths and canal towpaths. There are lots of urban footpaths programmed into the walkit.com database so it is often possible to find short cuts and road free routes.
The route is then displayed on a scalable map on the right hand side of the screen, with numbered navigation instructions down the left hand side of the screen. Clicking the navigation link shows you the location for that instruction on the map.
In some places the navigational description gives additional information such as:
Go to the right around the roundabout, 1/2 kilometre on, and then turn off onto PARLIAMENT SQUARE, heading north. You’ll pass BLACKBIRD BAR OR PUB, pass CAFE ROUGE RESTAURANT and then pass ZEROS NIGHTCLUB.
Above the map is a table showing the distance in miles, kilometres and steps, the time it will take and how many calories you will burn up walking at fast, medium and slow speeds, and the amount of CO2 saved by walking compared to taking the car, bus and train, tube or metro.
An elevation chart is also shown. For the routes I was looking at the scale was too large and the elevation chart showed a flat line.
Despite having to choose a city, you can actually create a route between anywhere in the country by entering postcodes. This is quite useful if you wish to create a route along minor roads, however there are currently no rural footpaths in the walkit.com database. Using postcodes, starting at the Old Dungeon Ghyll and ending at the Wasdale Head Inn, walkit.com suggests going via the Hardknott Pass and Eskdale, rather than hiking over the Lake District peaks. Perhaps rural footpaths will be included in the future.
One useful feature is that you can create a circular walk. To do this enter a starting point, your walking speed of either 2, 3 or 4 miles per hour and the length of time that you wish to walk for. The suggested walks encompass footpaths instead of roads where possible. The only drawback is that for a given set of choices only one possible walk is suggested.
There are three large advertising banners on the website. Ironically whilst I was on the walkit.com website the banners were advertising the new Mini!
The walkit.com website is being developed and they have a prominent invitation for people to suggest improvements.
Summary – walkit.com
The idea behind this website is a good one and overall the functionality is quite impressive. Since walkit.com enables you to plan a walk to and from places that you normally go to, you have no excuse for not leaving the car at home and getting some exercise!
Possible improvements could include points of interest along the walks, for example if there is a statue or monument, building with interesting architecture, gardens or one of the blue plaques that indicate a historical fact about a particular place.
At present there are no cities located in Wales or Northern Ireland, however the walkit.com website is expanding.
Have you used http://www.walkit.com? 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…