Google Earth Files
Files that can be opened in Google Earth
[Index of Walks]
Google Earth Download
Google Earth is available for FREE download from http://earth.google.com/. Because of the large volume of data downloaded when running Google Earth, it is only suitable for use with a fast internet connection such as broadband. It enables the user to zoom in to any part of the globe to view aerial photographs of the landscape in 3D. The imagery of most of the UK is of a high standard, though much depends upon the time of year when it was taken. Wales, much of which has recently been upgraded, is of a particularly high quality, having been taken in summer, whereas many parts of England have been photographed in winter, when the colours are less vibrant. Many remote parts of Scotland have only a low level of imagery, though this may be improved upon in time.
Mountain Tops of Wales
From the list of mountain tops over 2,000 ft in Wales, compiled by John and Anne Nuttall, I have produced a file, which can be opened in Google Earth, pinpointing all of the 190 summits. If you have installed Google Earth, just click on the file below to see all the mountain tops. Those over 3,000 ft are marked with white pins, those over 2,500 ft with yellow, and those over 2,000 ft with green.
Long Distance Walk Routes
When plotting out the route of a published walk, I have attempted to mark out the route shown in the guide book to the best of my ability. Where the route goes over open land with no clearly defined path, I have followed the nearest faint path that I can find, and, where nothing at all is visible, have just shown a straight line. I cannot vouch for total accuracy, but would be happy to receive any feedback about any mistakes that have been made. Please note that the walks have been split into convenient sections for display purposes only. It is not implied that these are suitable distances to walk in one day, though this may sometimes be the case. To perform a 'Fly-over' of the route, please read the Tips below.
Tips for using Google Earth
For those not very familiar with the facilities available within Google Earth, there is a lot of help available on their website, but the following are a few tips for use with these walking route files:
- The controls to the right of the screen can be used for zooming in or out, rotating the view, tilting the view etc. Zooming can also be achieved by rotating the mouse wheel. Tilting and rotating can be achieved by holding down the mouse wheel whilst moving the cursor up and down or left and right. The controls vary slightly depending on which version of Google Earth is being used.
- The blue and white rectangular icon at the top of the screen can be used to display or hide the sidebar panel on the left of the screen. This needs to be displayed in order to allow control of many of the functions that are available for use with the 'Route' file.
- The 'Places' and 'Layers' panels on the left sidebar can be expanded or contracted by use of the arrows: ► to expand, ▼ to contract.
- The amount of information displayed (place names, borders, geographic information etc.) can all be controlled by enabling or disabling items, or whole folders, within the 'Layers' panel on the left by ticking or unticking the appropriate boxes.
- Each folder can be expanded or contracted by use of the small + or - boxes to the left of the name.
- 3D views can only be seen when the 'Terrain' box is ticked in the 'Layers' panel, and the viewing angle tilted.
- In some places on the earth display, two or more items may be in the same position. To select one of them, first left click whichever one is visible. The two or more pin markers will then shoot out on stalks and the required one can then be clicked.
Walking Route Files
- The Walking Route file that has been loaded should appear under 'Temporary Places' in the 'Places' panel on the left.
- When a route file is loaded, all boxes are ticked to display everything on the file, but Individual pointers, or whole folders, can be hidden or displayed by un-ticking or ticking the appropriate boxes.
- Each Walking Route File consists of several folders, grouping together things such as Route (paths), Places, Mountains etc. These can be expanded or contracted using the small + or - boxes.
Flying over the Route
- First find the 'Quick Fly Route' folder within the required Walking Route and expand the folder to show its contents by clicking the + box.
- Left click on the section of the route that you wish to fly and then left click the 'Play' button (right hand arrow ► below). This should take you to the start of that route section and begin flying over the route. The image may be blurred for a while whilst more detailed imagery is downloaded, but should start to become clearer, provided that an Internet connection is maintained. The Speed, Height and Angle of Tilt are initially set to default values by Google Earth, but can be tailored to individual preferences as detailed below.
- The speed at which the route can be overflown smoothly is determined by many factors such as processor speed, amount of memory, speed of Internet connection, network congestion, number of other programs running etc. so it may be necessary to experiment with some of the Google Earth parameters to get the best results. Note that, if too many items from the 'Layers' panel are displayed, performance may be affected and progress may be slower and more erratic.
- To set different parameters for the 'fly-over', select 'Options' from the 'Tools' menu. Under the 'Touring' Tab are sets of flying options. The top section is mainly for the speed of jumping from one pin marker to another when playing folders full of pin markers, whilst the bottom section controls flying along paths. The best values for the latter are a matter of personal choice, but a 'Camera Tilt Angle' of 70 degrees allows the horizon to be seen (this varies a little with different aspect ratio screens). A 'Camera Range' of 1,000 to 1,500 metres is a good compromise for flying over most terrain, though where there are steep-sided, high mountains, as in Snowdonia and the Lake District, 2,000 metres works better. A 'Speed' of around 350 makes reasonable progress without being too fast.
- Whilst performing a 'Fly-over' along a path, the action can be paused with the ll button and restarted with the ► button. However if anything is done to change the viewing position on the screen, a restart is not possible, and the 'Fly-over' will have to be restarted from the beginning. Sometimes the 'Fly-over' stops for no apparent reason first time through, but generally works if it is restarted.
- Please note that the actual paths are defined in the 'Route' section of the file. The 'Quick Fly Route' section defines only a rough guide along the general direction of the path to make the 'Fly-over' smoother. The line of these 'Qick Fly Routes' is hidden from view, but can be viewed and/or edited as detailed further down.
- The 'Route' section of the file contains the set of individual path sections. These can be played in the same way as the 'Quick Fly' ones. However, the 'fly-over' from these path records is rather slow and erratic. This is because Google Earth is trying to follow every twist and turn along the path, so keeps changing direction all the time, which is why the 'Quick Fly' paths were generated.
- Other folders such as 'Mountains', 'Places', 'Landmarks' etc. hold lists of Pin Markers with the name of the feature and sometimes additional text. This information is displayed on the earth view whenever the pin marker on the main earth display is left clicked.
- It is also possible to 'Play' a folder full of Pin Markers by left clicking the folder and then the 'Play' button ► below. Each item will be displayed for a period of time before jumping to the next one. To set different parameters for the pause on each item and the speed of travel between them, select 'Options' from the 'Tools' menu. Under the 'Touring' Tab are sets of flying options. The top section of these is the 'Fly-To/Tour Settings'.
Modifying or Adding Items
- It is possible to modify items within the Walking Route file, either by adding extra items of your own, or by amending items that are already there. By right clicking an item, folder, or a pin marker on the earth view, a menu of options is displayed for deleting, saving, creating new folders etc. This allows things to be tidied up, personalised or reorganised. Items can also be dragged into different positions within a list, or dragged into a different folder (In version 4.3 beta of Google Earth, there are a few bugs in this and items do not always end up exactly where expected).
- One of the options available by right clicking an item is 'Properties'. This allows its details to be edited. In the case of a pin marker, it can be dragged to a different position on the earth whilst the 'Properties' box is displayed. The title and/or additional text can also be modified, as can the colour, type of pin marker etc.
- If the 'Properties' of a folder is selected, it is possible to change the properties of all the items in the folder. For instance, to display all the hidden paths in the 'Quick Fly Route' folder, first select the folder 'Properties' after right clicking the folder, then select the 'Style, Color' tab and change 'Width' from 0 to 1. Click OK and the routes should then all be displayed. If a folder contains items with different properties, you will be given the option to make them all the same.
- In the case of a path, when 'Properties' is selected, all the individuall points along the path will be displayed as small red squares with the active point in blue. The route can be amended by left clicking any point to make it into the active one and then dragging it to a different position. The active point can be deleted with the 'Delete' key, and a new point can be added, forward of the active one, by left clicking the mouse in the required position.
- New items can be added by clicking any icon with a + against it at the top of the earth view. The style of an item thus added will be the same as the last similar item whose properties has been 'OKed' from the 'Properties' menu. The item will be placed at the bottom of whatever folder is currently selected, though it can easily be dragged elsewhere as required.
Saving Files and Closing Down
- When closing down Google Earth, you will be asked whether you want the 'Temporary Places' items to be saved in 'My Places'. The file you have loaded will have been placed in 'Temporary Places', and, if you click 'Yes', it will be loaded next time Google Earth is loaded, otherwise it will be discarded together with any changes that you may have made. Items that are in 'My Places' will automatically be saved with any amendments, though this only happens on a tidy closedown and not on a crash or reload of the computer. However, beware of saving too many things in 'My Places' as this can increase the time taken to reload Google Earth.
- In addition to the copy of 'My Places' that is saved by Google Earth, it is possible to save a file, folder or item by right clicking it and selecting the 'Save Place As' option from the menu. Two file formats are available for saving: in the .kmz format the data is compressed to give the minimum file size, whereas the .kml format is a text format that can be viewed and edited, but produces a much larger file. Either file gives identical results when loaded, and can be saved again in the other format if required.
- Any changes to the naming of files should be done using the facilities within Google Earth, as this will change the name that is held within the file itself (this is the one displayed within the sidebar), otherwise the file will be displayed with a different name from its filename.
[Index of Walks]