Want to scope out the North Downs Way from the comfort of your sofa? Well, thanks to Google, now you can.
The North Downs Way, an epic 153-mile hike across the chalk hills of Surrey and Kent, can now be explored on Google.
Yes, the internet giants have made it available on Street View after using Google Trekker equipment ( a backpack fitted with 15 lenses) to capture the route.
The 153-mile path takes around 12 days to complete | Fotolia.com
The path starts in Farnham and ends at the White Cliffs of Dover, which incorporates the ancient pilgrim route of Via Francigena from Canterbury to the English Channel, and typically takes 12 days to complete, taking in quintessential English countryside along the way.
The North Down Way is one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales, long-distance trails managed and maintained to a high standard. Others include the South Downs Way, Offa’s Dyke, The Pennine Way and The Thames Path.
The Google Trekker project will see all of them being made available on Street View, with rangers and volunteers currently recording the routes, a long and arduous process that involves carrying a 23kg backpack fitted with cameras and a computer through tight, tree-lined pathways and over stiles while keeping it absolutely upright.
The next walk to be made available will be the Cleveland Way, a 110 mile walk which combines the North York Moors with dramatic coastal scenery.
The aim is to increase accessibility to the National Trails. With entire routes available to view online, walkers can see exactly what the hike entails before they set off, enhancing their route-planning abilities.
The North Downs Way: Now more accessible | Fotolia.com
It will also give potential walkers a better understanding of what the routes entail, says Anne Clarke, of Walk Unlimited, a social enterprise that promotes the National Trails, which should result in hikers undertaking the routes.
She said: “These routes are really special and when people see them online they can’t help but be inspired. I think sometimes people think places like the Yorkshire Wolds Way are long-distance trails and are too hard. If they can see it, it will make them think ‘actually, it’s beautiful, I’ll give it a go’.”