Using a Walking App for the First Time
So, you’ve booked your Macs Adventure Trip, and you’re keen to get started on the planning. You open your information pack and are met with funky looking black squares, rather like the one pictured below. What is it? What do you do? I hope that this little blog might go some way to reassuring you that you don’t need to be a technological whizz to get the most out of our app.
QR Codes will appear in your info pack
Here at Macs Adventure, we are becoming very familiar with these little black squares (or QR codes as they’re officially known) since the launch of our App. However, not everyone is sure what they are or how to use them; a fact that became very clear when I invited my mum along on our Best of Pembrokeshire walking holiday. I spent a good hour talking my mum through how to download the app, scan the QR codes & how to use the app. When I hung up, I thought ‘wouldn’t other people need this help too?’ – so this blog came to be. Firstly, I’d highly encourage you to watch the Step by Step guide to setting up the app. There are loads of helpful hints and tips for how to use the app, and where to get it. Secondly, check out the Frequently Asked Questions – if you’ve thought about it, it’s probably here. Lastly, let’s get to the meat of this blog – using it on the go.
Using the App on your Trip
On the route from Dale to Marloes
I set my mum a proposal while we flew down to Wales; would she navigate only using the app on the first day? This was a huge proposal for my mum as it was her first walking holiday, she’d never navigated on day hikes, and she’s been known to get lost in supermarket car parks! Throw in her Magic Finger (with a touch she seems to break all technology!), and you had a recipe for disaster. However, she agreed, on the condition that I would have maps and a guidebook, and I would correct her before she went too far wrong. All these seemed like sensible precautions and we agreed. That night we sat together and scanned the QR codes and went over the basics of the app. Day one, on the Best of Pembrokeshire, is a lovely 12-mile walk from Dale to Marloes, which passes several beautiful beaches. We set off around 9 am, and quickly met our first issue – should we follow the path, or take the stairs? Quite nervous about making the wrong decision only 10 minutes into the walk, my mum turned to ask me for directions. I politely reminded her, in my best robot voice ‘You are the Navigator!’ – a reference from one of her favourite films. Remembering that she had the app to follow, she pulled up her map and orientated herself. Once she did, we decided to follow the path (the correct way, as it turns out!). The second challenge came not 30 minutes later – a spray-painted sign telling us the path was off to our right. Now, on some trips, like the Camino Portugues, local people have spray-painted directions on the route, to have you walk past businesses in an effort to drum up sales. So, you’ll forgive us for being a little suspicious about this maker. Without prompting my mum whipped out her app, and told me we should continue straight forward…
Follow the official signs, if you are stuck, check the App
It was clear to me this was not the right way, so I asked her to look again. ‘The dot’s gone!’ was her response, so I suggested that the app may have just updated our position. A few seconds went by as she tried to locate us, and reassess our route before she excitedly pointed ‘that way!’ and we followed the spray-painted arrows. Following this wee hiccup, there were only a few times we needed the directions from the app, and waiting a moment for it to find our new position, it was easy. We made it to Marloes, a little sunburnt, and tired, but we arrived without having gotten lost once! This was a huge accomplishment for my mum, and we phoned my dad that evening to tell him the good news. My dad, who is my walking inspiration, was very impressed, not only had we made it, but we’d made good time! The only thing my mum had to complain about, was that she should have read the ‘What to Bring on my Trip’ blog more carefully – we should have had buffs to keep the sun off our necks! She surprised even me, by leading for the rest of the holiday. She set off confidently the next morning, remembering the Acorn markers we were to follow, and the app’s directions. Each day my mum relied less on the app, and eventually hit her stride as a navigator - We never got lost, we never needed the map, and we only used the guidebook for facts along the way.
Me and my Mum on the way to Skomer Island
Overall, my mum loved using the app, as it was ‘simple to follow our red line’ and ‘didn’t use my data’. The only thing she didn’t like about it was scanning in the trails at the beginning because the scanner was ‘too quick!’. She also probably got sick of my references to Flight of the Navigator, but I don’t think that should affect any other walkers on the route! I would feel confident letting my mum go on another one of the Macs Adventure holidays which have been loaded into the app, such as the Rob Roy Way or South West Coast Path, knowing she’d not get lost. I guess the moral of the story is, you don’t have to be great at navigating, and you certainly don’t have to know much about technology to make it work. Just take the guidebook as a back-up and you’ll do fine.