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NEWS: Walkers warned of 'potentially fatal' Google Maps route up Ben Nevis

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 UKC/UKH News 15 Jul 2021

Mountaineering Scotland and the John Muir Trust are advising people against trying to follow a 'life threatening' online route on Britain's highest mountain, courtesy of the algorithms at hillwalking non-experts Google Maps.

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In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Computer doesn't say 'no' anymore, it says 'you're gonna die' now.

 Lankyman 15 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?

 Philip 15 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

It only shows the route they indicate if you use driving directions to the summit.

Swap to walking and it follows the main path.

​​​​​​But yes, blame Google. Ludicrous.

Edit, in fact if you even go to Upper Glen Nevis car park and then choose walking it takes you all the way back down. You'd have to be unable to both make a common sense decision and unable to use Google maps. But somehow still have got there.

Post edited at 18:24
 Myfyr Tomos 15 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Type Snowdonia (Eryri 😊 into many mapping sites and the Cwm Prysor area of Trawsfynydd is targeted.  Two farms in that area are well pi$$ed off with carloads of punters looking for Mount Snowdon to conquer...

 mattyP 15 Jul 2021
In reply to Myfyr Tomos: Look at the speed! 25minutes! 
 

it’s definitely got FKT/Strava KoM bragging for a local fellrunner... Finlay Wild?

 Gawyllie 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Philip:

That's all fine and well but people with 'common sense' will likely not be relying on Google maps for navigation. It's those lacking in common sense that are most likely to trust what they see on google as the way to go. These most likely also fall into the category that are most likely to run into trouble on steep exposed terrain and end up calling mountain rescue or worse.

The alternative to getting google to change it, is hoping that suddenly people develop the 'common sense' that you speak of and realize that is not the way to go. And if that doesn't happen it will be left to the MRT to pick up the pieces.

I met a guy a couple of winters ago on Lochnagar at the col. It was clagged in but he was planning on the summit. Google maps was his only navigation tool. When he asked me which way to go I tried to explain the potential for walking through a cornice or into the vastness of the Mounth and was told 'I'm not scared'. That is the level of common sense those affected by the article could potentially have.

 Philip 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Gawyllie:

You've missed my point. Google don't need to change it, it doesn't do what the story suggests. The dotted lines on Google car journey indicate distance from the end of the driving. Once you swap to foot it already reroutes correctly.

Otherwise you might as well ban maps because straight lines between places don't work in many other places. Same effect of you put Snowdon in, you get an unnavigable route that deviates from the Watkin path to go straight up a section with a dangerous drop. Swap to walking mode and you get the tourist path.

 DerwentDiluted 16 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Like people who follow Satnav off a quayside into a harbour, stupid is as stupid does, and I have little sympathy. In fact Google are to be congratulated for surreptitiously removing stupid from the collective gene pool. Its the collateral damage to footpaths and the warmth of the MRT members dinner that I'm more concerned about.

 deepsoup 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Philip:

> You've missed my point. Google don't need to change it, it doesn't do what the story suggests.

It's a fair point.  What they could perhaps change is which car park it directs people to drive to.

"And it's not just on the UK's highest mountain that Google can lead people astray. Many other popular Munros have fallen foul of the same (likely computer-generated) line luring the unwary into life-threatening terrain. For An Teallach in the north-west, a 'walking' route was input into the search engine and the line offered would take people over a cliff."

I just tried At Teallach and didn't find a 'walking route' - instead it said "Sorry, your search appears to be outside our current coverage area for walking."  So maybe they are on the case with this.

Post edited at 08:03
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

What a wonderful name Heather Morning is. 

 deepsoup 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Myfyr Tomos:

> Two farms in that area are well pi$$ed off with carloads of punters looking for Mount Snowdon to conquer...

There are loads of businesses who would love to have carloads of lost and gullible punters delivered to their doorstep, it sounds like a bit of a missed opportunity.  There must be some way they could make a few bob out of it to offset the inconvenience.

In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Is this much different to the public footpaths and bridleways marked on OS Maps that run in straight lines across bogs and over cliffs?

All maps and nav aids are open to misinterpretation, although I suppose google maps tend to be used by people who happily drive up snow bound mountains because the satnav 'told them to'.

 Roberttaylor 16 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

I've been quietly ticking these off for years now, with the intention of writing a guidebook - The Munros by Google Maps.

Now everyone with a smartphone will likely rock up and ruin my solitude, following those slightly curving lines of dots to the summits and often off cliffs and into ravines. 

 Martin W 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Gawyllie:

> That's all fine and well but people with 'common sense' will likely not be relying on Google maps for navigation.

https://twitter.com/overlandertheb1/status/1415934925765857282

"...we met two pairs of Germans at the Corrour bothy who'd 'navigated' across the Cairngorm plateau by Google maps. They'd expected way-marked trail like back home."

It's not necessarily a lack of common sense - as in this case, problems can arise when otherwise experienced and sensible people from slightly different outdoor cultures pitch up in a foreign environment.

A recall friend of mine who married a girl from the USA who had done a fair bit of hiking in the US national parks.  On their first visit to the Lake District she was astounded to find that none of the "public footpaths" she'd seen signposted along the road were waymarked.  She tried to argue, in all sincerity, that it was irresponsibly dangerous to expect people unfamiliar with the area to use detailed maps to find their way.

Post edited at 10:44
In reply to Martin W:

> A recall friend of mine who married a girl from the USA who had done a fair bit of hiking in the US national parks.  On their first visit to the Lake District she was astounded to find that none of the "public footpaths" she'd seen signposted along the road were waymarked.  She tried to argue, in all sincerity, that it was irresponsibly dangerous to expect people unfamiliar with the area to use detailed maps to find their way.

A German girl once reprimanded me for not being naked in the hotel sauna in Darmstadt. They can’t have it both ways.

Post edited at 11:04
In reply to Thugitty Jugitty:

Well this thread took an unexpected turn (pardon the pun) for the better! All saunas should be equipped with naked german girls telling you to get your kit off. 

 Andy Hardy 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Ridge:

> Is this much different to the public footpaths and bridleways marked on OS Maps that run in straight lines across bogs and over cliffs?

Are there any that really do this? (over cliffs I mean, there's loads that go across boggy ground)

In reply to Andy Hardy

I've noted one or two in the Lakes, don't have maps to hand to check.

 guffers_hump 16 Jul 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

I think An Teallach is less likely to get the same standard of people climbing it as Ben Nevis. So it probably doesn't matter as much.

 guffers_hump 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Ridge:

That actually go off cliffs. I have to see this.

 Harry Jarvis 16 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

It's possible to find inappropriate routes for a number of mountains. I've just tried to get Google maps directions for the Loch Earn Ben Vorlich. The suggested route gives directions up an impassable track up Glen Ample, before setting off across the open hillside. Admittedly there is a warning that the route includes restricted use or private roads. Similarly, directions for Ben Lawers send you up an unsuitable hill track. And the directions up Ben Chonzie are very odd!

In reply to deepsoup:

> There are loads of businesses who would love to have carloads of lost and gullible punters delivered to their doorstep, it sounds like a bit of a missed opportunity.  There must be some way they could make a few bob out of it to offset the inconvenience.

American individual "John Lewis" has made a career out of being mistaken for the department store on Twitter.

In reply to Martin W:

> A recall friend of mine who married a girl from the USA who had done a fair bit of hiking in the US national parks.  On their first visit to the Lake District she was astounded to find that none of the "public footpaths" she'd seen signposted along the road were waymarked.  She tried to argue, in all sincerity, that it was irresponsibly dangerous to expect people unfamiliar with the area to use detailed maps to find their way.

Having seen some of the cartography that passes for recreational maps in other countries, I can kind of see her point. We really are spoiled by the Ordnance Survey.

 elliot.baker 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Martin W:

I had almost the exact same experience with someone from Australia on their first walk in the Lake District - they expected the footpaths to be at worst a kind of solid gravel thing like a canal tow path. I think a lot of coastal paths etc. around Oz are like that.

Suffice to say, by the end of the walk their nearly brand new £100+running trainers were torn to shreds! At least they were ok.

 dsh 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Martin W:

> A recall friend of mine who married a girl from the USA who had done a fair bit of hiking in the US national parks.  On their first visit to the Lake District she was astounded to find that none of the "public footpaths" she'd seen signposted along the road were waymarked.  She tried to argue, in all sincerity, that it was irresponsibly dangerous to expect people unfamiliar with the area to use detailed maps to find their way.

Not sure the reasons why people in the UK don't like marked paths but the American system is way better. There aren't detailed OS like maps for most places anyway so they're necessary in most places. It's probably been discussed to death but i really don't see the issue with marking trails. It doesn't take away from the challenge to some people like bolting a trade route does because you're on a trail anyway.

 fmck 16 Jul 2021
In reply to dsh:

Yeh. I was really peeved when I first went climbing and there were no dots on the crag marking the routes like the diagram showed! 

 dsh 16 Jul 2021
In reply to fmck:

That's definitely the same thing.

 BuzyG 16 Jul 2021
In reply to dsh:

> Not sure the reasons why people in the UK don't like marked paths but the American system is way better. There aren't detailed OS like maps for most places anyway so they're necessary in most places. It's probably been discussed to death but i really don't see the issue with marking trails. It doesn't take away from the challenge to some people like bolting a trade route does because you're on a trail anyway.

The joy of climbing a mountain like Ben Nevis is different things to different people. Personally I love our UK OS maps and the aerial photography of Google and the like, simply because they offer the opportunity to go and explore any route your up for, based on your personal experience, to the top of UK mountains.  The fact that the same resources also show popular trails that more or less any one can use to get to the same peak, on the right day, just means more people can enjoy the outdoors relatively safely.

Google provide a quite amazing resource. The article reminded me of the old adage. If some one suggested you to put your hand in a fire what would you do.

 elliptic 16 Jul 2021
In reply to guffers_hump:

> That actually go off cliffs. I have to see this.

A lot of the worst examples have been sorted out now but here's one that's still on the current map:

https://www.streetmap.co.uk/map?x=322663&y=504967&z=115&sv=322663,504967

 profitofdoom 16 Jul 2021
In reply to fmck:

> Yeh. I was really peeved when I first went climbing and there were no dots on the crag marking the routes like the diagram showed! 

Then you need to try SOS (E4 5c) at Avon. There is or was a dotted white paint line up the route (maybe it's gone now, I haven't walked past it for a while)

 jimtitt 16 Jul 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

That's E4 now? Pushed my onsight grade up yet again!

There's a cliff on the Bavarian/German border where all the routes are painted on with huge white dashes. It's crap as well.

 deepsoup 16 Jul 2021
In reply to guffers_hump:

> I think An Teallach is less likely to get the same standard of people climbing it as Ben Nevis.

For sure, but the article mentioned it having a similar problem with Google maps and apparently it no longer does so maybe they are actually in the process of doing something about it.  The other thing An Teallach doesn't have that Ben Nevis does is a 'tourist path' to the top for Google Maps in its 'walking' mode to default to.

 AJK87 16 Jul 2021
In reply to elliptic:

Happy for people to correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that green line isn't an indication there is a proper path on the ground unless it is also accompanied by a black dashed path line.

I believe the green line on it's own is only showing a right of way, which following the CROW act is fairly useless information as the land is open access anyway.

The one you've shown goes through craggy ground but it does look like a passable route through the crag.

I agree these green rights of way that don't have actual paths on the ground are a hazard for less experienced walkers though as they will set out on a route fully expecting there to be a well trodden path.

Some of the green lines shown coming off great gable are good examples of these, and I bet they have been the cause of some MR callouts.

 profitofdoom 16 Jul 2021
In reply to jimtitt:

> That's E4 now? Pushed my onsight grade up yet again!......

SOS (E4 5c) at Avon used to be HVS if I remember correctly? Could be wrong. It seemed undergraded to us....

 dsh 16 Jul 2021
In reply to BuzyG:

> The joy of climbing a mountain like Ben Nevis is different things to different people. Personally I love our UK OS maps and the aerial photography of Google and the like, simply because they offer the opportunity to go and explore any route your up for, based on your personal experience, to the top of UK mountains.  The fact that the same resources also show popular trails that more or less any one can use to get to the same peak, on the right day, just means more people can enjoy the outdoors relatively safely.

> Google provide a quite amazing resource. The article reminded me of the old adage. If some one suggested you to put your hand in a fire what would you do.

I agree and it would be nice if those maps are available everywhere, but the UK is small enough to allow it. But I also don't really see an issue in marking the main route either.

The google thing is a non story, would anyone seriously think the driving directions are actually a path to the top?

Post edited at 18:03
 Ciro 16 Jul 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

> There are loads of businesses who would love to have carloads of lost and gullible punters delivered to their doorstep, it sounds like a bit of a missed opportunity.  There must be some way they could make a few bob out of it to offset the inconvenience.

Perhaps they don't want to make a living fleecing the lost and the gullible. People who do want to do that, tend to take a different path through life than settling on a remote farm....

 jimtitt 16 Jul 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

Haven't climbed it since 1969 but my memory is VS then, could be wrong though.

 profitofdoom 16 Jul 2021
In reply to jimtitt:

> Haven't climbed it since 1969 but my memory is VS then, could be wrong though.

I knew it in the 1970s. VS was surely a serious undergrading at that time if it was given that. It was technically hard with no apparent protection (using 1970s gear), I just toproped it a couple of times - like other people did

 Martin W 16 Jul 2021
In reply to AJK87:

> The one you've shown goes through craggy ground but it does look like a passable route through the crag.

I agree, from the aerial view it look likes the RoW passes through relatively benign-looking ground just off the south end of the east-facing cliff.

 fmck 16 Jul 2021
In reply to profitofdoom:

Grade creep does annoy me. I was soloing VS multi pitched routes  that I wouldn't dream of attempting without a rope back in the 80s.

 profitofdoom 16 Jul 2021
In reply to fmck:

> Grade creep does annoy me. I was soloing VS multi pitched routes  that I wouldn't dream of attempting without a rope back in the 80s.

Yes, it annoys me too, but IMO that example (SOS (E4 5c)) going up from VS or HVS isn't grade creep; to me it's definitely 5c and at least E3

 deepsoup 16 Jul 2021
In reply to Ciro:

> Perhaps they don't want to make a living fleecing the lost and the gullible.

I hope not.  I don't think there would be any need to fleece them.  Perhaps they could be perfectly ethically sold something nice.  Even something produced on the farm.  Lots of farms whose core business is still farming have diversified to make an honest bob out of passing tourists.

At the very least perhaps they could be offered some information, maybe a nice clear map, for where it would be better to go to enjoy their visit to Snowdonia.  Sold for a quid in the honesty box, and/or financed by charging the attractions they're being directed towards a modest fee for the advertising.

It's just a thought.

 elliptic 16 Jul 2021
In reply to AJK87:

> Happy for people to correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that green line isn't an indication there is a proper path on the ground unless it is also accompanied by a black dashed path line.

> I believe the green line on it's own is only showing a right of way, which following the CROW act is fairly useless information as the land is open access anyway.

> The one you've shown goes through craggy ground but it does look like a passable route through the crag.

> I agree these green rights of way that don't have actual paths on the ground are a hazard for less experienced walkers though as they will set out on a route fully expecting there to be a well trodden path.

> Some of the green lines shown coming off great gable are good examples of these, and I bet they have been the cause of some MR callouts.

Yes, your understanding is correct - the trouble is the ROW lines are so much more prominent on OS maps especially on 1:25000 where the black-dash paths are often barely visible.

Usually on enclosed land the ROWs match up well enough with an actual track on the ground, but on the open fells some of them were originally drawn in very approximately on the definitive maps and can't now be corrected without a complicated legal process. There's been a steady effort in the Lakes at least to sort them out but there's still plenty of examples left.

 AJK87 17 Jul 2021
In reply to elliptic:

Presumably the rights of way match up with paths in private land because that is the only line people are allowed to take, thus they remain trodden.

Whereas on the open access land people have the freedom to take whatever line they choose so many of the old rights of way stop being trodden.

Not a problem if you understand all this but to a newbie in the hills, what chance do they have if what appear to be very distinct paths on the map don't exist on the ground.

Surely the Rights of way on open access land can just be scrapped off maps now leaving only paths.

Maybe Harvey maps need to be strongly reccomended for beginners for these reasons.

 deepsoup 17 Jul 2021
In reply to AJK87:

> Surely the Rights of way on open access land can just be scrapped off maps now leaving only paths.

Open access land doesn't bring the same rights as a public right of way though, so even across access land they're still significant. 

For example the landowner can close access land for up to (I think) four weeks a year excluding the weekends just arbitrarily because they want to.  Closing a PROW (legally) is more difficult and there has to be a good reason for it.  (Usually on safety grounds, eg: while trees are being felled.)

 AJK87 17 Jul 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

> Open access land doesn't bring the same rights as a public right of way though, so even across access land they're still significant. 

> For example the landowner can close access land for up to (I think) four weeks a year excluding the weekends just arbitrarily because they want to.  Closing a PROW (legally) is more difficult and there has to be a good reason for it.  (Usually on safety grounds, eg: while trees are being felled.)

That makes sense then.

Suppose it would just be useful if OS adopted a more obvious way of marking true paths v untrodden ROW

 deepsoup 17 Jul 2021
In reply to AJK87:

> Suppose it would just be useful if OS adopted a more obvious way of marking true paths v untrodden ROW

That would be a herculean task though so I wouldn't hold your breath.  (Also for some of us it would dent the 'adventure', so I wouldn't bank on everyone agreeing with you that it's even a good idea.)

If you want to plan ahead and have that information to hand right now it's easy enough to compare your OS map to the Open Street Map (or Open Cycle Map) and the aerial photos.  (Google etc.)  Even the Strava Heatmap can yield useful info about where the 'trodden path' is on the ground.  There's nothing to stop you getting a pencil out and marking it on your paper OS yourself.

 AJK87 17 Jul 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

> That would be a herculean task though so I wouldn't hold your breath.  (Also for some of us it would dent the 'adventure', so I wouldn't bank on everyone agreeing with you that it's even a good idea.)

> If you want to plan ahead and have that information to hand right now it's easy enough to compare your OS map to the Open Street Map (or Open Cycle Map) and the aerial photos.  (Google etc.)  Even the Strava Heatmap can yield useful info about where the 'trodden path' is on the ground.  There's nothing to stop you getting a pencil out and marking it on your paper OS yourself.

OS maps as they are now don't cause me a problem. (Now I understand them)

The thread is about google maps being unhelpful to inexperienced walkers.

Even a more conscientious novice who actually buys and attempts to use an OS map runs the risk of getting into unpleasent terrain following some of these old ROW that they think is a 'path'.

Can see the argument for leaving them on maps and also we can't make the hills completely safe for people who lack skills and common sense.

That said, if unintrusive things such as tweaking maps can be done to make life easier and potentially safer for newbies then it may help.

Appreciate the mammoth task that would be though.

In reply to UKC/UKH News:

A route created on a device by linking straight lines then uploaded to a user generated content section on a popular mapping app, not Google, was a problem recently. Now removed. 

In reply to AJK87:

On the most up to date Lake District 1:25,000 maps the main trodden ways that are not PROWs are shown by thicker black dashes than other trodden ways. These are just as obvious as the green PROWs. Not sure about other upland areas. And that doesn't help with PROWs that are invisible on the ground!

Post edited at 19:10
 Lord_ash2000 18 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

Sounds mad that anyone would be stupid enough to try and navigate up a hill using sat nav but it does happen. I was once unloading my pads at the layby near the Bowderstone and another car pulled up and out got a couple of overweight people not dressed for walking who asked me

"Is this the parking or castle crag?" 

I was like, eer, no. They then showed me their phone where they had just typed in castle crag on google maps which in a similar fashion to the Ben Nevis map above just got them as close (as the crow flys) to the submit via road then had a dotted arc to the remaining distance.  I pointed out the river they would have to wade across to have any chance of getting there from this parking then directed them back to Grange, I do wonder if they ever made it to the top. 

 65 18 Jul 2021
In reply to planetmarshall:

> American individual "John Lewis" has made a career out of being mistaken for the department store on Twitter.

A double edged sword. c.15 years ago a retired American naval officer called Al Nino began receiving huge amounts of hate mail much of which was along the lines of, "Why are you doing this?"

Thankfully he had a sense of humour, (and considerable bravery) and responded online thus, "Just had a bad day, you know, when you get out the wrong side of the bed and just hate the world."

 Lankyman 19 Jul 2021
In reply to 65:

Just imagine if Cardinal Sin had survived into the social media age ....

 Blake 19 Jul 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH News:

I name it 'The Darwin Route'

 guffers_hump 20 Jul 2021
In reply to elliptic:

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4020639

Judging from this photo, I think the footpath actually follows that line correctly.


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