Walkit.com

www.walkit.com 

Website’s statement:

The urban walking route planner. Get a route map between any two points, including your journey time, calorie burn, step count and carbon saving. It’s quick, free, healthy and green.

Social Media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/walkitcom Twitter: twitter.com/walkitcom Blog: www.walkit.com/blog

Smartphone App: iTunes App Store: Walkit app (for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) –> £1.99 to download

THE REVIEW:

Ever since I started my reviews of self-guided walk websites I have wanted to review walkit.com. And since May is “Great British Walking Challenge”, I think it’s about time to give them the honour. The Great British Walking Challenge is the brainchild of Living Streets, “the national charity that stands up for pedestrians” and walkit.com is one of their close partners. The aim of the challenge is to record your miles, minutes or steps and compare your results with other participants. While you can easily record your time, it’s not that easy to record your distance (miles or steps) if you don’t have the proper tool. And that’s why Walkit.com should be the perfect tool to help you do so with this challenge. Or is it really? Well the first problem you will have is that by definition it’s an urban planner, so forget about it if you live in a rural area. And the second problem is that not all cities and towns are represented on the website. For instance, in Yorkshire only Leeds and Sheffield are available! They keep adding new locations but with around 40 cities currently available I wonder how much of the UK population is actually covered? It’s probably over 50% but I am not sure that it’s over 75%. So why should you bother using it? Well if you are located or travelling in one of the lucky places covered, I must say it’s a pretty nifty tool for walkers!

The real power of the website lies in it’s ability to create A to B walking routes using the quickest and most direct way across the city, even across open spaces such as parks or public buildings (i.e train station) – try to do that with Google Map! It also calculates all sorts of parameters related to your walk: distance, time, calories and even the carbon footprint saved if you were using a car or public transport. While registration is free you can subscribe to a mywalkit+ which will give you even more options including tracking your progress and “banking” your routes. However this will cost you £15.00/year or £1.50/month. It’s not just a clever city route planner though because you can also get some circular walks. It’s really handy if you want to do a lunchtime walk around your workplace for example. You can select from 15 mins up to 4 hours – that would be a really long lunch walk though! The free option only gives you one circular walk but the paid for option can give you up to 5 walks from the same starting point. Even though it seems a little bit limited, for every single starting point you can choose 11 different walking times and 3 different walking paces, so that’s 33 different walks on the free option! I can’t confirm if that would be multiplied by 5 again on the paid for version though.

Now regarding descriptions and directions they are very well done. You can tell there has been a lot of thought behind them and I am quite baffled because it’s done on an automatic basis. For example it will give you any shop, bank or public building you may pass on your way. You can of course print the description along with the detailed mapped route. However they also have an app for iPhone but as explained in previous reviews I am not equipped yet and won’t be able to give an opinion on it. On the app page there are only bad reviews and that worries me a bit but you might be able to make your mind up yourself by watching this video review of the app from Frackulous before buying it.

One other feature on the website is the ability to plot your own route. I have tested it and although it’s not complicated and quite intuitive I had some trouble with the “annotations”, once saved they were not where I plotted them on the route. Thought I would be able to edit the route after saving but it doesn’t seem to be possible. I’ve now sent some feedback about this – hope I’ll get an answer soon. The nice thing is, once you have plotted your route you will find it in their “themed walks” section if you decide to share it with everyone. The route I created is one of my favourites in Leeds, a Station circular between the river and the canal. You will find the details below and a comparison with other websites too.

Station circular between the river and the canal

Station circular between the river and the canal

Station circular between the river and the canal

There is also a new feature called “nearby” but it’s still in its beta version and is only available for 5 cities currently, Leeds being one of them. I can’t make it work properly though as I don’t have access to the “from” and “within” – must be a bug – so won’t be able to comment on that. And finally if you wonder when the rest of the great Yorkshire cities and towns will be covered, maybe you could participate in their Facebook campaigns 🙂

To Sum Up:

Pros

A brilliant route planner for urban walkers. For every single city they work from a base mapping data (not O.S. map) that they develop to include all paths and walking routes available but they also listen to any feedback users may send them to create what they call a “walking knowledge”. Extra parameters added to your walk: calories burnt, CO2 saved, number of steps If you register, you can add personal details about your height, weight, stride and walking pace which will better estimate your calories burnt, time and step number Not too many adverts.

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Cons

Doesn’t cover all the country. By definition it’s a urban route planner but even so only 42 UK cities and towns are currently  covered I am not sure what mywalkit+ can really bring apart from tracking your progress Not sure if they test properly all their features before releasing them. Take the “what’s nearby?” which misses the “from” and “within” drop down list at the moment

Ease of use / appearance Searching facilities Walk descriptions Grading system Mapped routes
3.5/4 3/4 4/4  2/4 3.5/4
 Not much trouble with the navigation although I noticed some bugs now and then. They encourage users to send them feedback though. Not too many adverts either There is a lot of different data which can be selected at the end of the day but it still lacks in coverage of the country Walk directions are ideal for a urban setting since they add shops, banks or public building you may pass during your walk so you know you are probably on the right path There isn’t a real grading system for the walks but you get a profile of your walk with steep sections highlighted giving a notion of difficulty  They develop their own maps from a basic canvas and rely a lot on feedback or data layers. So there are some mistakes and gaps but overall the result is quite impressive
TOTAL
16/20

Features Yes No Comments
Free Green Tick It is free although there is a mywalkit+ upgrade available for £15/year or £1.50/month
GPS waypoints or Apps for smartphones Green Tick You can’t get GPS waypoints but you can use their app for iPhone
Photographs or videos of the routes Green Tick I say no although when you plot your own walk you can add pictures to “annotations” using a Flickr widget. You will need to use tags to find the picture you want making it really difficult to find the appropriate picture. The plotted walks can then appear on “themed walks” if you decide to share them with everyone.
Info available along the route (i.e refreshments and toilets) Green Tick The route directions include popular coffee shop names and brands.
Community based website Green Tick  They really want people to get involved and help them develop the base mapping data by sending them feedback if some walking paths are not included. Plus you can plot your own route and participate in their Facebook campaigns to make the case for launches in new cities

Please rate this article below and/or leave a comment about your own experience of www.walkit.com

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

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