Archive for April 1st, 2014

April 1, 2014

Wild camping Ranger App

by backpackingbongos

I had the pleasure of testing a new app whilst out wild camping on Kinder Scout at the weekend.

One of the problems with wild camping within the Peak District National Park is that it’s prohibited. ¬†The area is often patrolled by National Park Rangers, with the risk of them moving you on if caught. ¬†Obviously this adds unwanted excitement to the whole thing. However a small company called Backpacking Solutions have come up with an innovative App for the iOS operating system (basically iPhone and iPad). ¬†This enables you to track the Rangers in real time whilst they do their rounds. ¬†This was initially done from a safety point of view, knowing where the nearest ranger is enables you to find help much¬†quicker when needed.

The real time tracking operates from the radios that the rangers carry with them. ¬†The radio waves are converted into GPS signals which can then be picked up by the app. ¬†The user needs to have some form of Ordnance Survey mapping already installed, otherwise the information you get is useless. ¬†The App itself is very simple, it places a red dot onto your map which shows the ranger location in real time. ¬†As they move around they leave a breadcrumb trail which enables you to see the route that they have taken. ¬†I really like this feature, however to benefit you need to leave the app running. ¬†If you switch it off the breadcrumbs disappear and are not saved. ¬†When the Rangers return to base and turn off their radio the red dot vanishes from the map. ¬†In theory it’s pretty clever. How did it work out in use?

I turned on the app as we left Hayfield, this enabled it to start tracking the two rangers who were on duty that day.  As we reached the plateau we noticed that the breadcrumb trail from each of them was heading towards Edale and Hayfield respectively.  Roughly ten minutes after reaching base the red dots vanished.  The following day we were walking past Kinder Downfall when the App picked up two red dots moving towards us.  As they got closer we saw two red dots in real life also moving closer.  The reason why the dots are red became more apparent as the rangers passed us.  They were wearing red fleeces.  That made me chuckle to myself.

So far the app only covers the Kinder Scout and Bleaklow areas.  Beta testing is now finished and the app goes on general sale at the beginning of June.  I have no idea how to do a screenshot from a mobile phone, therefore have a look at the developers site here.  It will retail at £7.99.

Backpacking Solutions hope to have two more similar apps up and running by the end of the summer. ¬†These will be called¬†‘Bothy¬†Bore’ and ‘Angry Gamekeeper’.