Topographic Maps that make Cell Phone and GPS technology easy for hikers and other Outdoor Enthusiasts

After interviewing a number of hikers from all corners of the globe, I am finding that hikers and all outdoor enthusiasts have many challenges to overcome. ViewRanger will not only keep you from getting lost but will give you a bundle of multi-purpose technology and keep you on the right Track or Trail for years to come!

Mike Brocklehurst and Craig Wareham are co-founders of Augmentra Ltd – the software app company behind ViewRanger, the off-road satnav application for smartphones.

Mike is a keen hillwalker.  His hiking experiences in the English Lake District, combined with his appreciation of the famous Wainwright guides, germinated his ideas for a new way of navigating in the outdoors – having been frustrated with the GPS units available at the time.  In 2006 he co-founded Augmentra to turn these ideas into a product and business.

Augmentra is now a team of avid outdoor enthusiasts (walkers, cyclists, mountain bikers, glider pilots, sailors, surfers, campers) striving to help outdoor consumers to maximise their outdoor activity and share their experiences.

ViewRanger is now in regular use by outdoor activity enthusiasts and outdoor professionals across Europe.  Users includes walkers, mountain bikers, boaters, paramotorists, horse riders, search and rescue teams, countryside access officers, and many more.  A recent tie up with National Geographic brings ViewRanger to North America.

An interview with Mike Brocklehurst:
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

From a young age I went walking in the country side with my family, both near our home in Kent (England) and on holidays to the National Parks and similar areas. Also my uncle had a farm on Romney Marsh, which gave us a more agricultural introduction to the countryside.

What has been your favourite hiking / biking trail or outdoor area?

I love the English Lake District. It is a very beautiful part of England, with varied terrain including some challenging mountains. But it is relatively compact and very accessible. It is perhaps too busy at times, due to its popularity, but as a solo walker that suits me.  I particularly enjoy the areas around Keswick and Derwentwater – areas made famous by the poet Wordsworth.

Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

A while back I was lost for a while on a forested hill. Every track looked the same, none seemed to match the map, I guess due to the passage of time and the work of foresters.

As a solo walker I was always very cautious to avoid getting lost.
Nowadays I have our ViewRanger software with Ordnance Survey maps on my GPS phone, so I’m much more confident!

Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

The UK’s not known for many *really* wild animals. We have deer but they are good at hiding or running away.  There are many smaller mammals.

If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?

All my hiking has been single-day trips, I like to come back to home or hotel comforts in the evening.

I prefer linear walks, getting the bus to one valley, walking back along
a ridge to where I am staying in the evening.

Nowadays, I use the built-in library of guided walking routes within ViewRanger (currently a library of over 5000 guided routes) to discover new places to go.  I can quickly search for routes around my current location or around my hotel, and then download the routes that look interesting direct to my cellphone handset.

What is your favourite outdoor website?

Aside from our own www.viewranger.com!  I think that www.outdoorsmagic.com is a great site for the UK-based outdoor enthusiast.

What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

George Fisher in Keswick, or Open Air in Cambridge.

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