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Everything you wanted to know about GPX but were afraid to ask….

By Dave Roberts   

on November 16, 2011    No ratings yet.

Everything you wanted to know about GPX but were afraid to ask….

So you’ve fancied submitting a route, or downloading one, but you’ve no clue what these mythical GPX files are that we’re on about.

Basically a GPX file is a collection of information about a route that includes the location data, altitude and possibly time and heart rate information too. If you upload one of these, then it’ll create the cool maps and useful altitude plot that you see on all our routes. So that’s why we need them and why you can’t submit a route without one, so what’s in it for you? Well if you download the files you can make use of them either by opening them up in a mapping program such as Tracklogs or Memory Maps, and edit and add details to them or you can upload them to your GPS device and follow the route in the real world!

So where do GPX files come from? If you’re going to submit a route, then here’s how you can create a GPX route file.

1 – By recording it on your GPS device. This is the most acurate way of doing it. You can use a usual walking/biking gps or a running GPS also stores your route. How you get it off the device is another matter! You should get software with your gps that does this, or you can use the excellent sports tracker software from Zone software?

2 – Plotting the route in a mapping program. If you know the route quite well, then you can plot it on the digital map and use that. Remember that even if GPX is some sort of standard, most of these packages save in a proprietry format by default, so you’ll need to change that to GPX as you save You can also upload your route from your GPS into  any mapping software, edit it and perhaps clean up some rogue points before saving it as GPX.

3 – No GPS? No mapping? Ok, you’ve still got some options. If the route you’ve done is already on the site, we don’t mind if you download the file and resubmit it as your own route with your own pics and descriptions. You’ll lose your timing and so on, but you’ll have a map to illustrate the route you did today. This is a good option for popular paths such as the PYG or waymarked mtb routes.

4 – Most people these days has a phone and it’s quite possible that it’ll be a smartphone. Odds on that it’ll be an Android phone (yep – more popular than the iPhone despite what people seem to think) and you can use one of many apps available to turn your phone into a GPS. Viewranger is highly recommended, and at £25 you can have all the UK National Parks at 1:50k – that’s a bargain! If that’s too much then buy their open street map edition that costs a couple of quid and runs on Open Street Maps – the same maps that our routes open in as standard. How you get your route off the phone can be problematic though, and you’ll need to know how to transfer files between it and your computer. It’s also available for the iPhone and Symbian (remember them?)

5 – Finally, if all else has failed, we’d like to be able to say that we’d have our own route editor on the site. While it’s in the pipeline, we’re looking at implementing next spring, you can’t go far wrong using OS Maps where you can create and edit your own GPX files.

Keep an eye out for our own route editor – it’ll be free, you’ll be able to upload gpx and kml files and edit them before submitting, or create your own route and then download it – all that for free. Beyond that, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your routes in your account and see how far you’ve run, cycled or walked recently and share it with the community.

We will soon start a competition where the highest rated route and the most prolific submitters each month will receive a prize! That includes your reviews as well.

So go on – get submitting and you could be in line for  a prize! We promise you it won’t be big, it won’t change your life and it won’t be expensive, but it’s free so quit whingeing.

Note – all routes submitted before the competition opens will automatically be included in the first month’s competition. Routes submitted by the site staff are obviously excluded!!

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Dave Roberts

siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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