WalkingRoutes.ie is a new website that’s aiming to tap into local hillwalking knowledge so people can create and share information about walking trails from all around Ireland.
It was while he was out hillwalking one day in Co Cork that computer programmer Aaron Kenny came up with the idea to create the site, which he said is not intended to be a commercial venture, just an information portal.
Kenny, himself an avid hillwalker, set up WalkingRoutes.ie about six months ago and already the site has 600 members and information on 200 Irish walking trails.
He said he was disappointed by the lack of information about Ireland’s hillwalking trails available on the web, so he set out to create a platform for smartphone users so they could access trail information while out and about.
"It means that iPhone or Android phone users can search WalkingRoutes.ie for trails by county or based upon their current position, where trails within a 10km radius are listed," explained Kenny.
Users can also record their walks using their smartphone’s GPS as they progress through a trail.
Create and share trails
Then, when they return home from a hike, people have the facility to create trails by plotting their own trail on a map or by uploading files to WalkingRoutes.ie from a GPS device via their PC.
"The great thing about trails created using a phone or handheld GPS is that they are very accurate and allow the public to view them on Google Maps or download them onto their own handheld GPS, which hopefully gives them confidence to go on a trail," said Kenny.
He said he designed the site with the casual walker in mind. "That’s not to say there is anything stopping the more serious hikers using the website. I’ve put a lot of effort into making the website as easy to use as possible and I’m very open to suggestions from members."
As for future plans for the website, Kenny said he is keen to get in contact with hillwalking clubs. He has also been in contact with Coillte, which owns about 90pc of the public land in Ireland.
"At this phase, the focus is very much on building up the database of trails on offer. I’ve gotten great feedback from members who have been very active in submitting their own trails. However, I’m keen to try promote great initiatives, such as the National Looped Walks and Coillte Outdoors," said Kenny.