Hillwalker MAX - Mountains of Wales

Mountains of Wales version 6

Starting Point

This is a big program. It is a member of the HILLWALKER SERIES of CD-ROMs from ISYS. With over 300 features, the starting point is not obvious.

Certainly, the program aids planning by differentiating those hills which have or have not been climbed by you and up to 10 friends. Having selected an area, routes are described up every significant hill. The route can be viewed on screen on the OS Map. The authentic pronunciation of each hill is given by Richard Wyndham, well-known Welsh broadcaster. The program has over 250 photographs and 10 video clips. Many hills have more than one photograph but there is no attempt to have a photograph of every hill. On the top of the hill, the printed panoramas and tables show a schematic representation of the view, allowing distant hills to be identified. Finally, the days' experiences can be entered into the computer and printed. As the date is entered for a hill, the colour can change to show that it has been climbed.

Another starting point might be to ask, "What can this program do that a book or map can not?” There are four things:

The 457 hills include all hills over 400m with a drop of 20m or more and hills under 400m with a drop of 150m.

Become a Power User (by ticking a box) and access features not even mentioned here; just make sure your PC is powerful enough to handle it.


Routes

The routes in the program are from Tony Shaw, Gordon Pirie and Irvine Butterfield. There are over 100 routes, explained in detail, covering over 300 of the most significant hills.

The font size of the screen display can be varied. This is useful if discussing with a group when a large font is required. A small font gives much more information on the screen.

The routes can be printed and displayed on all formats of the program’s maps.


Photographs

The program has over 250 photographs, which can be accessed in 400 different ways. For example, a photograph of hill A from hill B can be accessed from either hill A or hill B. The photographs are quite stunning, most being by Dave Newbould, a professional mountain photographer. Apart from their beauty, they give a very good impression of the hills and the surrounding area.

All the photographs in the program are listed. You can search for a photograph by number, title or photographer.

If you have a photograph which you want in the program, you can add it yourself.


Slide Shows

All the photographs in the program can be shown as a slide show with accompanying music. You can even stop the show and restart at the same point later.

Alternatively, you can show the photographs in a random order.

Slide shows are available for individual hills whenever more than two photographs are available.

Each Vector Map has a slide show for all the hills on the map, ideal for a limited slide show, for example of Snowdonia.

There is even a slide show for each individual hill, although this is useful only for those hills which have several photographs.


Video Clips

While the photographs tend to be of the north of Wales, the video clips are of the south. Ten clips are provided, taken from a low flying helicopter. Together, these give an unprecedented appreciation of the terrain.


Panoramas

Panoramas can be calculated and printed from any point. The distant hills can be identified by clicking at the summit. The name and distance appear. The name can be heard. The bearing can to read from the scale at the top of the panorama. Any map point (lochs, railways, roads etc) can be clicked to reveal its name.

Where distant hills line up to create confusion, just as in real life, it is possible to rise above the hill and look down on the scene. The confusion sorts itself out and the groups of hills can be separately identified.

Panoramas can be saved to file.

You can fly through the virtual landscape under your control.

In Bearings Mode, The Bearing is drawn on the Panorama or can be set from the Panorama, providing of course that the panorama is drawn from the origin of the Bearing!


Map Positioning

One of the things that has always annoyed me about books is that a sketch map has an edge. So often I want to know what lies just off the map, what other hills are close by. The problem does not arise with in the Hillwalker Series CDs, as the maps are instantly re-sizeable and re-scaleable.

The program is full of nice touches. To print a map to fill A4 paper, the map must be the same shape as A4. This facility is provided. It would be useful to print so that the A4 sheet is exactly the same scale as a 1:40,000 or a 1:50,000 map so that the grid lines will match exactly. Again, this feature is provided.

Some pre-set starting points for maps are provided. Wales and the British Isles are the most useful. Others are provided for other programs in the Hillwalker Series. Fine-tuning is by incremental zoom and scroll buttons.

The program can work in several Modes:

Each mode is independent of the others; some work with the panorama as well as the vector and image maps.


Image Maps

All the OS Maps of Snowdonia and the Beacons have been concatenated, effectively to form one large map of the area. The image on screen is much bigger than on paper, allowing the last Grid Reference digits to be easily determined.

Walks and Bearings are drawn on the Image Maps and a continuous grid provides the grid reference of the cursor position, taking all the guesswork out of reading grid references.

Because of the amount of detail on Image Maps, these are typically drawn at a much higher scale than the Vector Maps, which will then cover a greater area. To enable the location of the Image Map to be easily determined, the area outlined by Image Maps is shown on the Vector Maps.


Bearings

The Bearings mode allows a bearing to be set from the Origin to the Target. The Origin and the Target can be hills or points. By default, the Current Hill is used as the Origin, but any point may be specified. Bearings are transferred among Panoramas, Vector Maps and Image Maps.

In Bearings Mode, a Bearings Window appears. This shows the Bearing Origin, Target, distance and direction. All are drawn on all Image Maps and on all Vector Maps, even if the map area does not cover the entire Bearing. The Bearing is also drawn on all Panoramas where the Panorama Viewpoint id the same as the Bearing Origin.

The Bearings Window also shows whether the next point selected will be used as the Origin or the Target. The Window allows this to be changed if you prefer. Origin and Target can be hills, map points or indeed any point. Selecting a point is subject to ‘fuzziness’ which can be set by the user. If you are within the fuzziness limit, the point is selected.

An advanced feature on the Bearings Window gives the horizon distance from both origin and target and the extent of the horizon overlap, allowing a guess to be made on intervisibility.


Selecting a Hill

A hill can be selected by clicking on it on the Vector Map or on an Image Map. If you know the name of the hill, it can be selected from a fragment of the name by using the Hill Finder or picked of the Hill List. The selected hill can be used as the Current Hill, the Origin or Target of a bearing or added to the LogLine or to a Route Card.

As the Current Hill, the Treasure Chest can be opened to reveal routes, photographs, video clips, paintings, further information or music, all associated with the hill.


Route Cards

A route consists of many legs, each with a start and finish waypoint, a distance and a bearing. A route can be created from scratch. It can be started from one of walks provided or even the user's own last logged route. Once entered, a route can be changed at will. Distances and bearings for each leg and a total distance are calculated. The estimated time is calculated for each leg based on parameters supplied by the user. Times are both clock time and elapsed time. The total time is then calculated. As many points as are required can be included and the finished route drawn on the map and printed. The route can be saved to file and recalled.

Points can be selected just by clicking a route on a map. Each click is subject to user specified fuzziness.

The Route Card will guess the height of a point if it is not provided. Also, it is now possible to add additional time for descent, similar to the additional time traditionally used on ascent.

The Route Card feature has proved to be a great interest to Duke of Edinburgh training centres and outdoor centres generally.


Expedition Planning

Route Cards are found in the Expedition Planning menu, as are Sunrise and Sunset times for all locations and altitudes. The Time of Day feature on Route Cards can be used with sunset time to ensure that you plan to be back at base before dark.

Enquiries about accommodation are provided within the program and it is planned to add data later.

Various predictable hazards are included such as the lambing period and Grouse, Stag and Deer stalking dates.


Log

The log is a chunky piece of code giving more facilities than any other program on the market. Even those programs that do nothing else except keep a diary are put in the shade by this part of Lakeland Fells.

First, the user selects the hills along the route his party has walked. If a hilltop is visited twice, to go out to and back from a side hill for example, this is handled. As the hills are selected, the route is drawn on the map. When the route is complete, the log proper can be entered.

The log data can be recorded under 10 different headings, most of which can be omitted if desired and one of which can be set to the user's choice.

Dates can be entered for all the party. The day order entry ensures that when printing climbed fells, the fells appear in the correct order. There is only need to key the date in once and it can be transferred as required to all the party for every hill. If some member of the party does not climb one of the route hills, the program caters for this eventuality.

A calendar allows dates to be picked rather than keyed.

When the entry for a hill is complete, clicking the Next button brings up the log for the next hill along the route. It also enables the Prior button so that the previous hill can be revisited.

The definition of Next and Prior can be set to define the natural order of number within section, alphabetical or height within section. Next and Prior can also move the hill along the LogLine; a sequence of hills defined by the user, often the hills traversed in a day's expedition.

Using the program one is very aware that the author has used it himself and that entry is made as simple and as foolproof as possible.


Maps

The outline position of every Ordnance Survey map in the Lake District is recorded and can be drawn on the computer vector map. This has the big advantage over a book that just tells you that for example Moelwyn Mawr is on Ordnance Survey Sheet 124 but not that it is right on the edge and that Sheet 115 would also be useful.

A three dimensional map of Snowdonia can be viewed from any height, direction and distance.


Climbed Hills

A hill is climbed if you have entered a date against it in the Log. You can define climbed to mean climbed by yourself or any of the ten 'friends' in the program. You can even define climbed to be some combination of any two friends or yourself.

A full set of statistics and pie charts are available to show hills climbed by category, friend or section.

You can list hills by date climbed.


Trig Pillars

All the Ordnance Survey Trigonometric Pillars are here. The position of all trig pillars is given to one metre, both horizontally and vertically. This accuracy is ideal for testing the accuracy of GPS instruments. Where the trig pillar is on the summit of a hill, the accuracy enables the summit to be located with a GPS even when visibility is severely curtailed.


Woodland

The program has details of all woodland greater than 2 hectares. The reference date of these data is March 2000 and so is much more recent than paper maps. Different types of woodland (coniferous, deciduous etc) are differentiated. The existence of these data allow routes to hills to be plotted with considerable confidence that it does not cross felled forest or ground prepared for planting. Both types of woodland are shown on the maps.


Filters

Several filters are provided, but perhaps the most useful is the Hill Filter. Unwanted hills can be filtered out, leaving only the ones of interest for the moment. Filtration can be by Section or Subsection, climbed or unclimbed or by Category (3,000 ft, 2,000 ft etc).

The hill filter can be used to select hills by within a band of height and within a band of drop. Selection can be in metres or feet.

The Sheet Filter can be used to restrict the type of map outlines shown on the Vector Map.

The Accommodation Filter will restrict the type of accommodation shown or ensure that the size of the accommodation is sufficient for your party.

Filters are saved across executions of the program so that you can start where you left off.

When the program starts up, you are warned if any Filters are active.


Pronunciation

The Welsh language Society was most helpful in determining correct spellings of hill names and their translation into English. The pronunciations by Wyndham Richards give the first insight into the correct pronunciation by those of us not fortunate enough to be native Welsh speakers. After using this program, you will be able to pronounce the Welsh hill names with confidence.


Quiz

For a bit of light entertainment, the user is asked to locate hills on the map. The user can select which hills he wants to be asked about using the Hill Filter feature. Locating hills by name is not as easy as it seems but it certainly helps you to get to know where the hills are.

There is a "Hall of Fame" for those who know the hills well.


Print

Many jokes have been made about carrying a computer up a hill, and these days it is feasible, but why bother when you can print out the route? Another nice touch in the program; you get the route author's signature at the bottom of the route if there is room on the page.

You can also print the panorama view together with White's Tables, the list of all fells and their bearings round from North through East, South, West and back to North. Armed with these you can identify all the summits which you can see. There is scope for humour here, but I shall resist the temptation!

Lists of hills can be selected by the Hill Filter and printed with alternative names or translations. Climbed hills can be printed in date or section order.

The print mode allows vector maps to be printed. Further Information can also be printed.


Help Menu

The Help menu contains the About Box which tells you which version of the program you are using; useful if you want to call Technical Support. The Incident Log records significant events which have occurred in this execution of the program.

Some meteorological information is provided, including a description of wind chill.

The most interesting feature by far on this menu is the Help File. There is an incredible amount of information in the help file, both on how to use the program and the words which make up the place names. The Help File covers all programs in the Hillwalker Series.

Further Information

Further Information is where all the little interesting snippets of information about a hill live. Examples include the current and past uses of Elidir Fawr to the origin of hill names.


Hill Lists

Hills can be listed by height, district, height within district or alphabetically. The list can be filtered to include, or not, categories of hill and / or hills of certain height or drop. The List facility can select a hill on the Map, or for inclusion in the Log or Route Cards, or as the start or end point of a Bearing.

Within the List Hills, there is a facility to search for a hill name by typing in a name or part of a name.

If we have missed your favourite hill, (it must be quite insignificant), you can add it to the program yourself. You can delete hills which you have added.


Advanced Features

There are features not normally used in the course of planning and recording your walks. These Advanced Features include calculating the radii of curvature of the Earth at all points, intervisibility functions and listing hills by method of survey.


More Features

Hill data can be exported for inclusion into programs such as Microsoft's AutoRoute Express. Having the fells in AutoRoute greatly enhances the use of this program for hillwalkers.

The foregoing covers most of the program but still omits the continuous grid on Vector Maps; a feature that displays the cursor Grid Reference position on the map. The usual attention to detail is displayed again when the cursor moves outside the area of the grid; the box is blanked. If the cursor moves into the area of the Irish Grid, the grid changes to the Irish format (a single letter and six digits) and the co-ordinates are shown in the Irish Grid system.

The format of the Grid Reference can be chosen. One option is the full ten figure reference, giving a Grid Reference to one metre precision.

Longitude and Latitude are also available with the continuous Grid, giving a continuous readout of Longitude and Latitude in the format chosen by the user.

The colours of the map can be changed. A default button restores the original if you forget what it was. The colour change is especially useful to distinguish Climbed and Unclimbed fells. When only a few hills have been climbed the Climbed hills can be set to be prominent but after some exercise on the hills, you can emphasise the Unclimbed variety.

The music was specially recorded for the program. Both traditional vocal and instrumental music is here. Anthony Griffiths and Annette Davies provide wonderful music and song for your enjoyment.

Much has been said about 'climbed' hills. Climbed can be defined as climbed by the owner or any of the other ten friends. It can also be any combination of any two of these combined in any way, for example Janet or John, Janet and not John, not John. The caveat in the program to keep the definition simple is well heeded.

The random hints cover the entire program and present snippets of advice to the user. These can be browsed at any time or left to appear randomly when the program is first started.

There are also hints, which describe the function of every button and box. These can be tuned off when you know your way round the program.

The selected hill can be placed at the centre of the map by either double clicking it or by pressing the Centre button. A Point Finder will search out any map point for you.

Throughout, buttons and features are enabled if the action is available and disabled otherwise. This technique drastically reduces the need for error messages and makes the whole appearance of the program user friendly.

The program can be integrated with other version 6 Hillwalker Series programs to give a single user interface with all programs purchased.


90 Days' Free Support

The package comes with support from Isys Computers - included in the price. It has been suggested that the support given for Windows alone is worth the cost of the package. Mountains of Wales ISBN 0-9540813-9-0 is available from ISYS Direct. Order by post or by credit card by telephone or fax on 0141-587-7748 or by e-Mail: sales@isysoutdoors.com

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