Monday, 2 September 2013

Computer Mapping Software – Advice Wanted

I have a problem and need your help and advice!  Actually I have lots of problems but I will send the others to Marjorie Proops at the Mirror or Dear Deirdre at the Sun.

I am just computer literate.  I can do the basic stuff but do not know any IT speak.  Thus, I do get a little confused when reading information on the internet, blogs and in outdoor magazines about computer mapping software for use in the outdoors.

Whilst faffing around writing this post I worked out how to capture a screen shot. I am so pleased with myself that I have inserted one here that does not relate in any way to the questions I have posed.
 Over the last few years I have bought various bits of software and hardware (you see I do know some technical terms!) piecemeal, and it’s all a bit of a mish-mash. I feel like I need to rationalise and sort it out – but without spending too much.  So I’d be pleased to receive advice on how best to do this and what systems work for other walkers and backpackers.
There are probably two main pieces of information I should share – what I want it to do and what I currently have.

What do I want it for?

I want to use it to help plan routes in advance of a trip, mainly to provide me with distance and height gained and lost. And possibly provide a route profile.
I want to use a GPS when I am out on the hill. Mainly just to check my position or to give a little extra confidence in poor visibility.  I always have map and compass with me. I am not that bothered about having the route itself on the GPS device but I want the latter to have OS mapping loaded on it.

What do I already have?

Laptop running Windows 7
Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Notebook (Android)
An oldish Satmap Active 10 with a couple of sim cards of the Lakes at 1:25k and part of Perth and Kinross at 1:25k.  I hardly ever use this now as I save weight by just taking my smartphone. Its map coverage would be insufficient for, say, the TGO Challenge.
Samsung Galaxy III smartphone (Android), loaded with Viewranger 1:50k OS mapping of the whole of the UK + The Lakes at 1:25k.  Even with a couple of spare batteries for longer trips this is still lighter than the Active 10.
Memory Map on my laptop with mapping of The Lakes at 1:25k, England and Wales at 1:50k and part of Scottish Highlands at 1:50k (roughly the TGO Challenge areas but not quite enough coverage for possible future routes). I find Memory Map is crashing regularly and the Scottish maps keep losing elevation data for reasons unknown.  But if I am to persevere with Memory Map I need to buy more map coverage.
In the past I tried Grough Route for planning but couldn’t be doing with the online route planning which I found very slow and cumbersome and I never really got the hang of it.
Any suggestions on how I could sort this out?


  1. You seem to have your phone covered with Viewranger, great app and very comprehensive. I would ditch the laptop software and install QUO mapping

    This works great for me and others I know, plan, draw and print routes/maps add pop's / routes to your phone, rock solid.

    If you need any help don't hesitate to ask.


    1. Hi Andy

      I had not heard of QUO mapping so will take a look....
      many thanks for bothering to advise.


  2. Have you tried planning your route at Just log in using your existing viewranger account. You can then download the route to the viewranger app wirelessly using wifi.

    1. Hi Anonymous!

      No, I have not tried this but will check it out. I really struggled trying to plan routes online with Grough, possibly because I suffer from very slow internet speeds living out in the sticks. But if it is good it would certainly achieve the aim of rationalisation given I am used to Viewranger for the phone. I think Viewranger in the field is first rate. The only problem is the phone screen in the sun is very hard to see, but of course when it's sunny satnav is rarely needed as navigation is usually straightforward.

  3. I know Andy's very satisfied with Quo, he's sent me stuff via t'interweb that looks the biz.

    Which version of Memory Map are you using? On the 2004 / 2005 versions elevation data is stored in the 1:50,000 data so you need to have the relevant maps on your machine even if you're using the 1:25,000.


    1. Hi JJ

      I have memory Map European Edition version 5.4.2.

      My Scotland map is 1:50k. It does have elevation data but every time I switch to my other maps eg Lakes and then go back to the Scotland Map it loses it and I have to re-link it. This process seems hit and miss and it sometimes takes 3 or 4 attempts. Do not have this problem with my other maps. They were bought on CD Rom; the Scotland map was downloaded.

      Also Memory Map has started fairly regularly to tell me it is "not responding" when I click on a route on the map to see the route properties eg distance and stuff and I keep having to switch the package on and off. So basically it is peeing me off with its unreliability. This is one of the reasons for this blog post as I always used Memory Map to plan routes at home; Viewranger or Active 10 out on the hill for navigation.

  4. It's so very infuriating that moving to a new mapping application means re-buying maps over and over again. I think in your situation I would probably first of all see how you get on with route planning on Viewranger on the Galaxy Notebook if that is possible (or via the Viewranger web interface on the laptop - though I find that the web app gets quite slow once you get above maybe 40-50 waypoints). Given you have already invested in Viewranger, using this for both desktop and outdoors makes the most sense.

    If that doesn't suit then you are probably faced with deciding which new piece of software to get for the laptop. I don't use Windows but most solutions are available for it: Anquet, Quo, Routebuddy etc. I think you'd be best getting demo/trial versions of these (which usually include a small area of OS mapping) and playing around to see which one suits best. Anquet in particular might be of interest as their product is available on Windows and Android so you should be able to transfer maps/routes easily.

    1. Thanks Nick. I will do exactly what you suggest in your first paragraph and see how this goes.

  5. I think Nick has probably given the same advice I would. If you have already paid for Viewranger maps, using the their online route planning is probably the best choice if connection allows.

    I used to use the older version of Memory-map that I had bought several maps for, still use it occasionally and have had the problem with the elevation not showing. I think this can be fixed by specifying the elevation file in the map properties, at least on the old versions. I can have a look when at home for the settings.

    If you don't like or don't want to use Viewranger online, you could try another alternative to Grough like
    it may be simpler but that can be a good thing. Make sure you register at walkhighlands, otherwise you wont see the OS Explorer (1:25,000) style maps. This is free unlike Grough, but doesn't have any fancy features, you can save to a GPX file and load up it into your phone.

    I wouldn't be advising to pay for another mapping program and buying all the maps again. This is exactly why I proposed a maps subscription service:

    For you android phone I have used Viewranger, Memory-map, AlpineQuest, MM-Tracker (sadly no more) and OruxMaps. If you have older style Memory-map map you can use those in AlpineQuest if you don't want to use ViewRanger, although you seam happy with that.
    There is also the option in both AlpineQuest and Orux where you can actually view Ordnance Survey maps I think they pull them from Bing, but how long that service will last I'm not sure. I would stick with ViewRanger if you are happy with it.

    I am considering writing up a couple of blog posts comparing Android mapping apps and PC desktop apps. There are so many out there and hard to decide which to use and which app/program has which features. Once you choose one you then get stuck with their map format and often a large investment.

    In Summary:
    Phone: stick with Viewranger or try your Memory-map maps in AlpineQuest (free version)
    Desktop: ViewRanger or WalkHighlands Maps if connection allows. Alternatively try to fix Memory-map

    1. Thanks for such a full response Steve. In first instance I am going with what you, Nick and Carl Mynott (via Twitter) have all suggested ie getting my Viewranger maps on to my Galaxy Notebook and will have a play planning routes on that. I guess an old dog may be able to learn new tricks with sufficient practice.

      I am finding the Viewranger technical support people excellent, by the way. Really prompt, and they will metaphorically hold the hand of an idiot like me.

  6. If you already have a Satmap 10 why not try their own Xpedition which does everything you mention. It downloads and uploads routes, takes screenshots, does the planning etc etc. Worth a look at. Like you i have tried numerous others and i have settled for Xpedition.
    If i just want to plot a quick route i sometimes use “Where’s the path”.

  7. Thanks Alan. Looks like I'm gong to extend use of Viewranger but will still check out Xpedition in case I want to have the more rugged Active 10 with me.

  8. Thanks Alan. Looks like I'm gong to extend use of Viewranger but will still check out Xpedition in case I want to have the more rugged Active 10 with me.

  9. Thanks Alan. Looks like I'm gong to extend use of Viewranger but will still check out Xpedition in case I want to have the more rugged Active 10 with me.

  10. Thanks Alan. Looks like I'm gong to extend use of Viewranger but will still check out Xpedition in case I want to have the more rugged Active 10 with me.

  11. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)

  12. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.