South Pennines – Walk Cycle Ride

www.walkridesouthpennines.co.uk 

Website’s statement:

This site hosts South Pennine walking, cycling, mountain biking and horse riding routes for all ages and abilities, from a quiet stroll along the canal towpath, to a bike ride that will test your endurance and provide a few white knuckle moments.

Social Media:

Twitter (Pennine Prospects):  twitter.com/tweetingtwite

Sister website: Walk & Ride Festival Every year Pennine Prospects organise the Walk & Ride Festival in September www.walkandridefestival.co.uk. The festival is a great opportunity to discover the South Pennines and involves hundreds of volunteers.

THE REVIEW:

This is one of the first local – or regional to be a bit more accurate – websites I am reviewing. Although no longer involved I am a little bit biased since I helped with researching and writing some of its initial content.  Nonetheless I think it deserves a good and honest user experience review. This website was designed, developed and put together by the team at Pennine Prospects, a local development agency for the South Pennines which spans the borders of the historical arch rival counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire. As stated by them “The aim of the site is to provide a functional tool for the 7 million people living within an hours’ drive of the area, to explore and enjoy the breadth and depths of the South Pennines.”  It’s all about the great outdoor pursuit in the South Pennines and specifically three types of activities: walking, cycling and riding. However for this review I will only concentrate on the walking aspects.

First off, I really like the graphics and designs. The colours are bright and sharp but not too much and there is a very good use of quality pictures throughout making the website pleasant to look at. The navigation is really easy with inviting menus taking you straight to the point. The only down side is the font and size used which I believe makes it quite difficult to read. Especially when there is a lot to read like on the homepage welcome note. However unlike most other websites I have reviewed you won’t be annoyed with adverts since it’s been funded by public money – through the LEADER programme.

As previously said I will only concentrate on the walking section though both the cycling and riding sections are based on the same structure. So to find a walk you simply have to click on the “walk” menu which takes you to a map of the South Pennines. The map has been divided in 11 areas and you can then either select one that interests you directly from the map or from a list on the right hand side. You are then directed to a new page with a list of walks for that area ordered by a simple grading system (easy, moderate and challenging). There is also an “advanced route search” option but I am not sure that it works properly. It’s compulsory to select a type of activity, an area and a grade. This is annoying because it could filter out walks you might be interested in. Why can’t I look for easy routes only regardless of the location for example? Yet I don’t see the point in some of the added options. For example I doubt anyone would find it useful to be able to select “no” stiles, “yes” gates, “yes” steps, “no” road sections, “horse box” car park facility and “circular”. Worst of all I can’t even make it work to be honest! I think on this occasion they should either redo or scrap the page completely I’m afraid. To my mind there is a missing search option too: search by postcode. The South Pennines is a vast area and even if the main targets of this website are local people, I don’t think  everyone knows their local area that well. A postcode search with results ordered in a radius system from closest to farthest would be a good added bonus.

What about the walks? Once you have selected a walk you are directed to its page where you will find a small description, some stats, some useful information such as toilets and refreshments and a pdf downloadable/printable map. You’ll also find a profile of the walk. Unfortunately most of them are in very small print and difficult to read. There aren’t any walk directions, the idea is that the map should suffice. The map is actually a 1:25000 Ordnance Survey version which I personally prefer and is more accurate than Google Map for example. However I noticed some walks have 1:50000 scale maps which is not great especially when no directions are given. I wonder if they could add notes on the map?

I must admit it’s probably not the best website you will find out there however as suggested on the website they are looking for help and would like people to send them their walks. And if you find any mistakes on the walks, you can also leave some feedback via a useful dialogue box. This is because Pennine Prospects really wants the community to participate in the project and they are also involved in organising the Walk & Ride Festival every year. They have hundreds of volunteers for this event, so if you feel like helping and contributing to the community and promoting the great outdoors of the South Pennines why don’t you get in touch with them? I have and I will probably put more of my walks up on my side of the South Pennines for everyone to enjoy.

To Sum Up:

Pros

Really nice graphics and designs, easy navigation and overall an inviting website No adverts You can download and print the walks on 1:25000 O.S. maps in pdf format Useful information with every single walk such as toilets and refreshments locations You can contribute by leaving feed back or submitting a new walk

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Cons

Font size is too small. Makes it difficult to read with long text. Advanced search doesn’t work and criteria used are not relevant. Lack of route directions can be a problem. Not everyone can read O.S. maps. Noticed some of the walks are on 1:50000 O.S. map

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Ease of use / appearance Search facilities Walk descriptions Grading system Mapped routes
3.5/4 1/4 2.5/4  4/4 3/4
Nice graphics and easy navigation but font size used makes it difficult to read long text Advanced search doesn’t work. Could do with a postcode search. Lack of walk directions can be a problem. However you get a lot of useful information on each walk Simple but efficient   grading system based on difficulty  Routes are available as pdf format and are drawn on 1:25000 O.S maps. No notes or directions available though and I noticed some routes drawn on 1:50000 O.S. maps.
TOTAL
14/20
Features Yes No Comments
Free Green Tick The project was funded by the LEADER programme
GPS waypoints or Apps for smartphones Green Tick None available. Maybe in the future?
Photographs or videos of the routes Green Tick None available.
Info available along the route (i.e refreshments and toilets) Green Tick Every single route comes with handy bits of information such as toilets and refreshments locations, nearest public transport from the start or car parking availability.
Community based website Green Tick  Pennine Prospects really want people to get involved by sending them feedback or submitting new walks. Not to forget that they always look for volunteers during the Walk & Ride Festival in September.

Please rate this article below and/or leave a comment about your own experience of www.walkridesouthpennines.co.uk

Looking for more reviews? Go to my page about Walking Route Planner websites

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