Although it’s great to leave the screens behind sometimes, there are now so many great apps being constantly developed that you can use to enhance your outdoor experience and encourage you to get out more. Whether it’s challenging yourself to beat your time, finding a great bike route that someone has checked out before you or being able to identify that plant or bird that you have seen on your time out, apps can very useful and a great motivator for more adventures.
I’ve asked our Rockley Team what apps they use and like. We haven’t tested them all and are by no means experts, but these may be fun to try and could enhance your outdoor experience.
For recording routes
Strava was the most popular of all the apps for recording activities. Most of our team used the free version but you can get more stats with the paid one. You can link up from your fitness watches (Garmin, fitbit, Polar, wahoo, Tomtom and Suunto) to keep a log of all your outings as well as share, follow and give kudos to your friends, add notes and photos to keep record as well as join set challenges nationally. You can also create clubs on there with a leaderboard collating data of chosen activities. Our Education group are using this now to encourage a bit of friendly rivalry among our students to motivate them and improve their fitness and also great for their mental well-being too!
For navigation and following tested routes
For Navigation, the Education team use Oriento where you can download various routes in the local area to run or walk. You can challenge friends and there is a leaderboard to track your times too. This can be used to teach navigation and orienteering with various check points listed.
OS Maps, Ordnance Survey maps created by Britain’s national mapping agency are the front runner for providing access to national basic mapping for general hiking and walks. Although only one staff member happened to be using the paid version which unlocks additional maps and features. View Ranger was another app that helps you pick routes for walking, hiking and biking and said to be better for more advanced routes and also for abroad. Kamoot was recommended by staff especially for bike routes. You can filter by distance and difficulty to receive tailored options in your chosen area and also great for sharing routes with friends.
Go Paddling has a wealth of info to get you out on the water with maps showing the best spots to launch from and suggested routes where you can paddleboard or kayak.
Geocaching is another way to encourage the kids to get out and search for the tiny capsules that have been hidden all over the country. Download the app and navigate yourself using the maps and clues to see what you can find.
For the weather, wind and tides
This one is always tricky as many of us seem to have more than one weather app on our phones. The problem is when they differ, which one do you listen to?
Met Office and XC Weather, were the main ones used for an overall picture as well as the iphone weather appwhich I often use for sunset and sunrise and a comparison. For sailing and windsurfing, Windy and Wind Guru were popular and for surfing, Magic Seaweed was the favourite.
For tides, Tides near me, as well as Absolute Tides were used. This shows you the tidal times in different formats, on a graph as well as on a chart with arrows pointing to the direction of the tidal flow that can be really helpful visually.
For knowledge of the environment around you
To impress your friends with your knowledge, a few of these can add interest to what you are seeing when you are out and about. For plant identification, Candide and Picture this will identify plants by just taking a photo and uploading.Seek identifies birds as well as plants and also has challenges for you to go out and collect more sightings and create a library or try Smart Bird ID for identifying bird song. Finally, iGeology is great to identify the rocks beneath your feet using GPS to zoom into your location.
To keep you safe
What 3 Words is a free app that the Emergency Services urge for you to download before you set off for any adventure. It uses three words to identify a specific spot (3x3metres) that may not have an address. If you were in any difficulty and needed to be found while out in the wild, you can use this app to help the emergency services understand exactly where you are, making it incredibly useful and it could save your life.
All that's left to say now, is get outside, try out some of these new Apps and have fun!
Written by Sara Holt, Schools Advisor.