High-tech help for intrepid hill-walkers
HILL-WALKERS are being offered a piece of new technology to help them enjoy their days out in Britain.
A new smartphone "app", or application, is being designed by the University of Nottingham to give walkers a better understanding of the route they are climbing.
It will include audio, graphics and information on the history of the area as they reach certain points.
The first walk it will cover accompanies an audio guide to a 10-mile walk up Great Dun Fell, in Cumbria – the second highest hill in the Pennines – but geography academic Gary Priestnall, who is working on the app with PhD student Sam Meek, is keen to develop it to include walks across the country.
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"The app is experimental at the moment and what we've tried to do is explore the way we can deliver information that people might normally carry on a printed sheet or map," said Mr Priestnall.
"At the moment, by using GPS, it will show where you are and deliver audio or graphical material when you hit certain hotspots.
"This is a pilot and we will continue to develop this over the summer, trying a few different walks which we will then make available."
The audio guide, which the app accompanies, is part of the Royal Geographical Society's Discovering Britain project, which encourages people to explore stories behind Britain's landscapes.
About 70 walks have already been uploaded.
The University of Nottingham's app will also focus on the weather.
Visitors to Great Dun Fell will hear about the beauty spot's rich history and the dramatic climate and weather conditions that shaped its landscape.
Walkers will also discover how the region is home to the Helm Wind – the UK's only named wind.
It will also reveal the area's links with celebrated climatologist Gordon Manley, who studied the Helm Wind in the 1930s and established a climatological station at the top of Great Dun Fell to take meteorological observations.
Weather veteran John Kettley – who began his career in Nottingham – returned to the county yesterday to narrate the audio guide that inspired the app.
He said: "I love to hear people getting excited about weather and am a big fan of getting out and about in the great outdoors.
"This project presented me with an ideal opportunity."