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Trailblazer Guides are pleased to offer readers an increasing range of downloadable GPS files to accompany our guidebooks, particularly the British Walking Guides series. As the maps in this series are large-scale (1:20,000) and so very detailed, GPS is barely needed, but it's free and GPS is fun to use if you happen to own a gadget that runs it. It's increasingly featured on smart phones and PDAs (but see below). In conditions of poor visibility where the path is unclear, or when you're unsure of your position in relation to the track, activating the GPS will lead you quickly back to the nearest point on the trail. There is no need to run it all day.
How to use .gpx files
Gpx files are a format that can be read by all GPS software and GPS-enabled devices, just as any .txt or .doc files will open with word processing software. Download the .gpx file you want from the list below to your computer. You will now need GPS software; an increasing range is available free online. With the popular Garmin hand held GPS units, software called Map Source is included although we don't use this. Disregarding Bluetooth and other wireless possibilities, you now need a cable to attach your computer to your device (it should come with your device).
The task now is to import our .gpx file into your device. With the vast array of software and devices out there we can't help you with this, you'll need to read the manual, but rest assured that importing data is an elementary procedure. If your unit does not accept the .gpx file, often converting it into a .txt file works. For something like a Garmin Oregon and a PC you will need to open the drive that is created by the unit when it is plugged in. On a PC, this will be located in the My Computer section. Then go to the Garmin folder inside the Garmin drive. In the Garmin folder, you will see another folder labeled GPX. Drop the file in this folder. When you power on the Garmin, you will see the contents of the file in the applicable section. If the file had waypoints on it, you will see this under the waypoint manager.
With GPS software (again free conversion sites are online) you can also convert our .gpx file into a .kml file which can be read by Google Earth. This is a fun way of seeing our waypoints laid over an aerial image of your planned walk and can help with visualising tricky navigation hot spots (often mentioned in the books) in advance. With relatively costly programs like Memory Map (described on p46 in the Coast to Coast guide) offering digital mapping and many other clever functions, the sky's the limit to what you can do with GPS data.
Note that our waypoints are conventionally named: 001, 033, 299 and so on, but have a prefix such as 'pw001', 'pw033' relating to the title. This minimises the chances that any waypoints already stored in your device will be erased. Disregard the prefix and these numbers 001, 033 and 299 correspond to those indexed in the back of the British Walking Guides; without the book they'll be of limited use.
For copyright reasons we publish and provide downloadable waypoints in Long/Lat format, an international standard. However, for our British Walking Guides you may find the British OS Grid format more useful if you choose to supplement the book's mapping with OS maps. To do this just change the display prefs in your GPS unit to British Grid and it will show waypoints in the familiar NQ 98765 23456 format which is easier to pinpoint on an OS map than Lat/Long. For the Kilimanjaro waypoints note that the position format we are using is known as UTM UPS; the map datum is WGS 84 (37 M); you can change both of these on a Garmin GPS by going to Units Setup on the Settings menu, then changing the Position Format and Map datum where necessary.
Our .gpx files do not show a continuous line to follow, or tell you where to turn left or right like in-car satellite navigators. They are merely the list of useful points along the walk. In places where the way is obvious there are few or no waypoints, but in towns and villages, and especially on mist-prone hills, waypoints are given more frequently as in this situation even a map and compass can be of limited use.
Note that the global GPS signal is relatively weak so you need to be outdoors and clear of trees and buildings to get a good reading. Note also that that using GPS continuously in a smart phone will greatly decrease battery life whereas a typical handheld GPS unit running on two-AA batteries can last up to three walking days if kept in a warm pocket. GPX files cannot be imported or read by in-car navigation systems such as TomToms which do not operate like handheld GPS units or smart phones/PDAs.
Click the cover below to download the associated gpx file. Enjoy your walk, with or without GPS!
The other books in the British Walking Guides series do not currently include waypoints but these will be included in all new editions and the waypoints posted here as each new edition is published.