Lonely Planet Writer

Google Maps seeks volunteers to capture North Downs

A new Google Maps project will be mapping the extraordinary beauty of the North Downs with the help of trail rangers and volunteers.

North Downs meadows
North Downs meadows Image by Glen / CC BY 2.0

Google has put out the call for people to walk the North Downs from the Pennine Way, the Cleveland Way and more, complete with the Google Street View equipment, in particular the super futuristic Google Trekker camera, in order to capture the beauty of the North Downs. The project kicks off on 17 March.

“We’re putting the best of the British countryside where it’s never been before – on Google maps,” Peter Morris, the North Downs Way trail manager told the Guardian. The rangers have already begun referring to themselves as trail “cyborgs” since they walk with a metal prong coming out of their back and quite a bit of equipment.

A person walks in the snow in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, as winter weather hits the Pennines.
A person walks in the snow in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, as winter weather hits the Pennines. Image by John Giles/PA Wire

The Google Trekkers contain 15 cameras each in the top sphere where they take a picture every two seconds for the panoramic views on Google Street View. However, the Trekker camera weighs 23kg and only works in dry conditions with a reasonable amount of sunshine so it can prove tricky for people to use.

This is the first project of its kind in the UK and it’s hoped that it will increase tourism to the Downs. Currently it’s thought that few Britons have done all 15 national trails which extend across England and Wales. Hopes are that the publicity of the Google Maps project will boost tourism to the trails. Once the actual images of the stunning landscapes of the Downs are uploaded to Google Maps and Google Street view they are sure to do so.

Devonshire farmlands.
Devonshire farmlands. Image by Jenny Brown / CC BY 2.0

The project was first carried out along the trails around the Grand Canyon in Arizona in 2013. Since then visitor numbers have increased by a million.