Check out: New Pathwatch app
Ramblers Scotland has launched a new Pathwatch app that allows walkers to share experiences good and bad while enjoying the great outdoors. I take a closer look in my Sunday Mail column. Read the pdf or see the story below.
Ramblers Scotland Pathwatch app
What is it?: The new and free Pathwatch app allows walkers to report and share their experiences, both good and bad, in the great outdoors.
Tell me more: The Pathwatch app is part of an innovative Ramblers Scotland digital project to promote and protect the countryside.
Walkers can use the smartphone app to log a range of positive and negative experiences, from missing signs and overgrown paths to exciting views and wildlife.
These reports are logged directly on to digital Ordnance Survey maps.
Ramblers Scotland will track the recorded information and use it to enhance the country’s landscape, nature and access.
Anything else to know?: The new Pathwatch technology is available for the first time in Scotland and will form a pilot scheme until Easter 2017.
Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland, said: “We know that Scotland has some of the best access legislation in the world, but we don’t yet have a full picture of the challenges facing walkers on the ground.
“Pathwatch makes it easy for people to let us know instantly about any problems stopping them in their tracks.
“I’m also very excited about the opportunity to use Pathwatch to celebrate the great experiences people have while exploring Scotland on foot.
“I encourage everyone to download the app today and get out walking.”
Ramblers Scotland wants to use Pathwatch to work more closely with walkers, landowners and access authorities to improve Scotland’s outdoors for all.
Does it work?: The Pathwatch project has previously run in England and Wales and has been considered a big success.
Many thousands of walkers made use of the app and took advantage of the opportunity to report their findings.
A Ramblers spokesperson said: “In the first six months after Pathwatch launched in England and Wales, more than 14,000 people registered to take part.
“Some 128,000 features were reported and nearly 47,000 photos were submitted.”
More than 58,000 features reported south of the border were rated positive, showing the potential for the technology to showcase the best of the Scottish outdoors.
Almost 15,000 reports were about good signage and many people stated that path network signs can be welcoming.
Meanwhile, the main issues reported by Pathwatch users were missing signs and walking routes that crossed busy roads.
Ramblers will issue a full report of findindings later this year.
Pathwatch app case studies
Two Pathwatch walkers, Averil and Steve Brice, helped to uncover a forgotten route in England.
The pair took photos of the obstruction and reported it to the Ramblers as part of the Pathwatch project.
The report led to special Ramblers volunteer day to clear the site and recover the route for use again.
Ramblers walk leader Ann Hutt has also found the Pathwatch app useful for planning new routes.
Ann said: “I have got to know my local paths as never before, which is great as I lead eight walks a month.
“Thanks to the app I can chop and change routes and plan them with ease and confidence.
“Pathwatch has prompted me to notice both positive and negative features of the countryside much more than I did before and this has led to improvements after my reports were submitted.”
Another Pathwatch user Roger Bangs reports that the app has encouraged more people to take an interest in the local countryside.
Roger, vice chair of Hertfordshire and North Middlesex Area Ramblers, said: “I found Pathwatch to be an interesting and worthwhile exercise, enabling myself and others to be involved in recording the current state of our footpaths.
“The smartphone app is easy to use and it is an innovative way of collecting information.
“I can see how the app will be useful for keeping track of paths network in the UK and can help to aid with the preservation and improvement of paths.”
Find out more
The Pathwatch app is available for download at ramblers.org.uk/scotland, where a desktop version will also be available. See Ramblers Scotland.