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GPS Data Sets - Version 3

Completely revised and improved (October 2007).
Available only by download.

The SMC GPS route files have proved very popular with hill-walkers as electronic navigation has become more and more normal. These route files correspond closely to the routes described in the two SMC Hillwalkers' Guides (Volume 1: Munros, Volume 2: Corbetts and Other Hills), and they are only available by download from this site. The original routes were painstakingly collated by Mr Gerry Bye, using the Hillwalkers' Guides and the O.S. 1:50000 maps. With a magnifying glass, Mr Bye went over each route and decided what points to mark. Mr Bye's routes have now been gathered into a more formal database, and extensively revised and corrected. Elevation data is also being added to each point (this is complete for the Munro routes, and in progress for the others).

In Version 3 we have decided to standardize on the now ubiquitous GPS Exchange Format (GPX), and we have redesigned the printable route cards to show more information about the route, and to provide more space for your own notes. We have also decided to distribute the new cards in Adobe PDF format, instead of Microsoft Word, so that they are accessible to a wider range of users.

We welcome your suggestions for further improvements to our route data. Our current plans for future versions include: further corrections and optimizations of the route data; consolidating segments of routes that are duplicated between the Corbett and Munro routes; completing the addition of elevation data to all the route points; adding maps to the route cards. Version 3 has been compiled by Mr Toby Thurston who like Mr Bye is a keen hillwalker. Any feedback may be easily made by using the Feedback form on this site.

System requirements

To use these data sets you need a computer capable of running the following software:

  • A utility to unpack zip files, such as Winzip, InfoZip, unzip, or the file decompression utilities built into most modern operating systems (including Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X). The main zip file is 6Mb in size.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader or any other utility that can read and print PDF files (such as Preview on Mac OSX, or evince on Linux).
  • A GPS interface program, like Garmin's Mapsource, to view the routes and load them onto your GPS device. Most GPS manufacturers supply such a program with your GPS device, but there are a number of other commercial and free products available that will do the same job.

When the GPX and PDF files are unpacked, they will occupy about 13Mb bytes of storage space on your disk. And, if you actually want to download the routes to your GPS device instead of just looking at them on the screen or printing the route cards, you will need an interface cable for your device. Most modern devices use a standard USB cable, and some even support a Bluetooth radio connection, but older models may require you to buy a proprietary interface cable. Very old models may have no interface at all.

Installation

The GPS data is delivered as one large zip file that contains three files: A "readme" file with some more instructions, a zip file with all the GPX files, and another with all the PDF files. The main zip file is 6Mb in size.

  • Unpack the main zip file into some convenient location on your computer
  • Read the "readme" file
  • Unpack files from the GPX and PDF zip files as needed.
  • Use your GPS interface program to work with the GPX files.
  • Use your PDF reading program to work with the PDF files.

Purchase and download instructions

Please read the following notes carefully. The data files are freely available for download, but they are password protected, so there is no point downloading them unless you are also going to purchase a password from us to unlock the files. The password is available to purchase through PayPal only. The price is £8.00.

Purchase with PayPal

Click the "Buy Now" button below to buy your password electronically. If you have not previously used PayPal you will be requested to supply an email address and some personal details for setting up your account. There is no charge for this and the SMC will not be able to access these details (except for the email address). Have your current credit card at hand. It only takes a moment!

Once you payment has been successfully processed by PayPal we will send the current password for the GPS Data to the email address you supply to PayPal.

Buy the password to use the SMC GPS Data Version 3 (£8.00)

Download the data

The files are available here: GPS Data (5.9MB)

To Download the GPS Data files, right-click on the link above and choose Save as / Save link as.

GPS Software links

We do not supply the necessary mapping software, only the data files. Normally the software is supplied with the purchase of the GPS unit, or bought as an optional extra. There are several good GPS software programs on the market and available as a download from the Internet. Their prices vary depending on what you get. The expensive part of all of them is usually the digital map data.

If you would prefer to have the route files in a device-specific format rather than the general GPX form, then you might like to investigate the GPSBabel tool that can convert between GPX and more or less any GPS data format. Please note that we do not guarantee that the gpx files available here will be compatible with your preferred software; however, we have tested the files on a wide range of readily available software and have been satisfied that they are compatible with all commonly available programs. If the program you use does not load our gpx files we suggest you contact the software company

If you are looking for general GPS management software we provide links below to several such companies.

One of the latest mapping products on the market is Quo GO This has innovative features, not least of which is that the software is free and they have an optional list of plug-ins, including the OS maps at a lower cost than most. Worth checking out. Click on the logo for more information.

Quo logo

Other easily available programs are listed below.

The more expensive commercial products (such as those from Anquet and Memory-Map) include Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 digital maps for the UK. While you can't download these to your GPS unit, you can display our GPX routes on your computer, with the OS maps underneath, which allows you to see exactly where we are suggesting that you go (and edit the route if you like). Some of the products also let you print detailed OS maps with the routes overlaid on them.

Products of particular interest include MapView from KAS Software Ltd., based in Fortrose, Ross-shire. KAS Software is a small Scottish company that sells a special package of digital OS maps covering all the Munros, Corbetts and other hills at a very competitive price.

Selected previews of the routes

A neat feature provided by Mapsource is the "view in Google Earth" option, although Google Earth can also load GPX files directly. Route M0213 (Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dothaidh) looks like this in Google Earth.

Here's what the same route looks like when opened in Mapsource, with the addition that the free contour map is also present

The route cards are in pdf format, with the same route shown below. Symbols are fully explained with the download files.

And click here to see the full size corresponding route card in printable PDF form as supplied with the GPS data set.

Health warning

There is no doubt that used electronic navigation is here to stay, but it does not replace the need for traditional map and compass skills. You should be aware that although GPS units can be extremely accurate in the right circumstances, they are subject to interference from other electronic signals, they may not work properly near large metal objects, and you may not get a usable signal in dense woodland or deep gullies. Please also bear in mind that our route data has not been collected in the field using a GPS unit, but compiled by hand from maps. And while each route has been carefully checked several times, and subject to a barrage of automated tests which have corrected 100s of minor errors that were in Version 2, not all of them have actually been followed in the field using a GPS unit, so you use them at your own risk.

You are strongly recommended not to rely on your GPS unit alone on the hill. Even if you are using your GPS unit as your primary navigation aid you are recommended to take all the relevant OS Landranger maps and a Silva-type compass with you as well. You should also take spare batteries for the GPS. You are also recommended to print out at least two copies of each relevant route card. Leave one card behind with someone to tell them where you are going and take the other one with you for use with the map and compass should your GPS unit fail.

On the sheet you leave behind you should write: the names of people in your party, your mobile phone numbers, the date and time of departure and the expected date and time of return. You should also note the main objective, and any possible alternatives or likely escape routes.

On the sheet you take with you, write down: the contact details of the person you are going to call to say you are safe; the weather forecast (including the likely wind force and direction, the cloud base, and the freezing level); and the time of sunset. You can get a good mountain weather forecast from most climbing shops or from the Mountain Weather Information Service. You should be able to get the time of sunrise and sunset from your GPS unit.

You are also strongly advised to look around you at all times, especially in poor weather conditions to make sure your GPS is not leading you astray.

The SMC make ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY that the routes provided are accurate or useful at all. You use these routes entirely at your own risk. The routes have been checked on maps by fallible human beings but not extensively tested on the ground. They are no substitute for developing your own navigation skills, using your common sense, and planning your walks carefully.

We welcome your feedback about how useful each route was in practice and we will try to incorporate your improvements and suggestions in future versions.

Free Contour Maps

Available Now: We are now making available, as free downloads, digital contour maps covering the whole of the UK plus Ireland. You can see an example above, with a GPS route overlying the contours as shown in MapSource. Below is a screen shot of the same route taken from an e-trex Legend GPS unit. (The contours look better on the unit! This image has been enlarged.)

For those who have a GPS unit with sufficient memory, this enables users to use our GPS routes with hill contours overlaid as a transparent file. At maximum zoom, contours are at 10m intervals, as in the OS 1:50K maps.

How can they be free? They have been compiled from the data made freely available to the public by the US government. The data comes from the NASA Shuttle project, which mapped the planet's surface. As public money was used for this, data is made available to the public. Nice system. A UK programmer, Dave Storey, compiled the data - thank you Dave.

Go Here for the page on free digital contour maps. Note that the zipped files vary in size from 5M bytes to 17M bytes and you may prefer broadband to download.

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