Social Hiking will be closing down permanently on 1 July 2021.

I regret to inform you that Social Hiking will be closing down permanently on 1 July 2021.

Ordnance Survey have announced that the OS OpenSpace service (that Social Hiking uses to display OS maps) is being withdrawn in August 2021 to be replaced by a new service.

Whilst the new service has a free tier which may be sufficient, costs, which are based on map tile downloads, could quickly ramp up and exceed any income we receive.

Implementing the new service is also tricky – we use a library which helps to switch between OS and Google Maps. This third party library has not been updated for 8 years and does not support the new service, so I would have to rewrite all the map integrations.

Ultimately we could just support Google Maps, but I am under no illusions that, whilst we have a number of non-UK based subscribers, the majority of subscribers use Social Hiking for the OS maps, and there are plenty of better alternatives that use other mapping products.

Ordnance Survey changing their API (APIs are how we integrate with other services) is just the straw that broke the camel’s back – the Flickr API has been broken since Flickr was bought by SmugMug, the Twitter and Instagram integrations are using depreciated APIs (ones that will get turned off soon), and it is only a matter of time before Garmin replace the old Delorme API and SPOT / Viewranger turn off their 10 year old APIs.

Despite best intentions and a burst of enthusiasm each time the site is rescued from closing, I need to face the hard truth that I do not have the space in my life to undertake even a fraction of the required development to keep the site going. I run a growing business, I have a young family and I need to keep on top of my mental and physical health.

Perhaps the hardest truth to face is that I no longer believe in Social Hiking. Social media is now a hugely negative influence on society, dividing us whilst carving up our likes and dislikes to better propagate inequality and difference. Our culture of sharing for likes and clicks is impacting on our collective mental health and distorting the everyday reality of all our lives. With hindsight, I am actually a little ashamed of the small part I played in this process.

There are still some echoes of a more positive past, and it is no coincidence that the majority of subscribers have been with us since the early days. You are wonderful people, many of whom have become friends. Watching you in the early days of the site interacting with each other on Twitter and becoming friends is perhaps one of the things I am most proud of. I am sorry to let you down, but it is finally time to call time.

A few practical details – anyone who subscribed after 31 June 2020 will get a full refund, and all other renewals will be cancelled so you can continue to use the site until the last day at no additional cost. We will also let anyone taking part in TGO 2021 (if it is able to go ahead) be able to use the site. All maps still have GPX, KML and raw data file download options (the latter can be used to recreate your map if you have some technical skills). I would not recommend using the self hosted map option as that will break when the OS change occurs. Please let me know if you have any other archive requirements and I will see what I can do.

2020 has been a shit year – if you have subscribed, are suffering financial hardship and have not been able to use the site, then please get in touch and we can arrange a refund.

Take care, stay safe and I hope to see you on a hill, mountain or Tor sometime.

Phil

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