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Ordnance Survey have announced that the OS OpenSpace service (that Social Hiking uses to display OS maps) is being withdrawn in August 2021 to be replaced by a new service.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

Should we stay or should we go?

Earlier this year I announced Social Hiking was going to close after 2018’s TGO Challenge in late May.  As you have probably noticed, the site is still up and running!

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Social Hiking to close on 27th May 2018

After 8 years of helping you share your outdoor adventures, both big and small, Social Hiking will be closing permanently on 27th May 2018.

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Setting up Social Hiking for the TGO Challenge 2013

Last year, for the second year, Social Hiking had a group map running for users on the TGO Challenge (view the TGO Challenge 2012 group map). The map displayed the progress of @lynseypooler, @locomountaineer, @bryanwaddington and @volpi live as they made their way from the west to east coast of Scotland.

I know there are several users who are on the challenge this year so, ‘back by popular demand’, there is a TGO Challenge 2013 group map. If you are new to Social Hiking but what to share your challenge, this post covers how to register, setup your location sources, link media accounts and create your map ready for your challenge. Although specifically for TGO Challengers, other users may find some of the sections useful.

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Top maps, peak baggers, track sharers and route uploaders of 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, I would like to thank everyone for supporting Social Hiking and for sharing their adventures, big and small, with the world on Social Hiking. It has been a great year, with over 100,000 km of hikes shared, and 2013 promises to be even better. I would like to wish everyone a happy new year!

As an end of year treat, here are the details of the top maps, peak baggers, track sharers and route uploaders of 2012 (using the publicly accessible stats on user profiles – private maps are excluded unless the user has chosen to include them).

[If you want to share your stats for the year, there is a twitter icon next to the stats on your user profile – please note the stats for the year get reset at 00:00 on 1st January 2013 – UK time!]

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Informal Social Hiking Meet: 18 – 20th May

As many of you know, the planned Webtogs / Social Hiking meet on Jurassic Coast has unfortunately had to be cancelled. As I know a few of you had already kept the weekend free and were looking forward to it, I have decided instead to arrange an informal Social Hiking meet for the same weekend.

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“Mobile Apps, The Outdoors and Social Media” at Innov-Ex 2012

Earlier this week I was at the Innovations for Extremes conference held at Lancaster University. The conference was fantastic – the talks were interesting and thought provoking, and it was a great opportunity to meet and chat with a range of people from the outdoor industry. I will do a more in depth blog post over the next few days, but I thought I would do this quick post to share the slides from my talk – “mobile apps, the outdoors and social media”. It was a great pleasure to be asked to do a talk, and I hope it was interesting and useful to those who attended (or who were watching the live web stream).

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Social Hiking – the next step… (and how you can help)

For those of you who may not know, Social Hiking started life as a personal project – I was walking Offa’s Dyke (a 177 mile path weaving between the English and Welsh border) to raise money for MS Society back in April 2010 and I wanted a way of sharing the experience with others. Thanks to a rapid deployment of an API from ViewRanger, the first ever proof of concept of Social Hiking was on 20th February 2010. Using it on Offa’s Dyke was a fantastic success, and thanks to the enthusiasm of the very early adopters, I was encouraged to take what I had created and open it up for others to use.

Social Hiking is all about you: our users and supporters – I cannot tell you how amazed I have been by your enthusiasm and support,  the initiative ways you are using the site (pushing the boundaries of what it can do), and how you are creating a community around it. You are all awesome!

Until now, the features on the site have grown organically based on some amazing suggestions and feedback (like the peak bagging feature, combi maps, better media support, improved map loading speeds and showing planned routes on live tracks) and selfishly for my own use (like @advbot). This organic growth has meant that some features are still a bit rough around the edges and there is still no user guide – so apologies for the learning curve required to get to grips with the site and some of the features (and thank you to everyone who has been providing adhoc support).

Over the last few months I have been watching how you have been using the site, reading your suggestions and mulling over the future direction for Social Hiking and putting together a short and long term development road map for changes and new features. This plan will not be published, but it includes features suggested by users and a few of my own including some innovative features I know you are going to love!

The aims of Social Hiking remains the same:

  • To help you share your adventure, big or small, with your online world and beyond
  • To make it as easy for you as possible to share out in the field
  • To respect your media content
  • To support the software and services you already use
  • To help foster an online community
  • To help inspire people to head outdoors on their own adventures

Social Hiking is a project I work on in my free time. Other than a case of beer 🙂 and some generous donations from users for a charity walk last year, there is no funding supporting the site. Costs are still relatively low (it costs around £50-£75 per month to keep the site running) but the biggest limiting factor is time – juggling paid-work, my own outdoor adventures and a home life means there is precious little time available for updates and support. As such the road map does include several means for future revenue to allow me to commit more time to it – however I want to reassure you though that I am completely committed to ensuring that the vast majority of features (both existing and new) are available to individuals free of charge and that any revenue source is not at odds with the aims of Social Hiking.

How you can help

Your enthusiasm is awesome – seeing you spreading the word about Social Hiking, offering to help out other users, and interacting with each other both on Social Hiking and beyond is really rewarding and helps motivate me to drive the site forward.

Although the road map for the future will be dynamic and will change as time progresses, it would be really helpful to hear your ideas and suggestions. If you visit our Customer Services Community you can flick through some of the ideas other users have had. If you like one please vote for it – the more votes something has the more likely it is to be included into the plan and implemented. Please also add your own ideas and suggestions – no matter how crazy, obvious or ‘out of the box’ you think they might be!

Finally I am also starting to put together a much needed help wiki to explain the features of Social Hiking, how they work and how to make the most of them. I would really appreciate the help of some volunteers to help me with the writing process (and in translation).

You can get in touch on Twitter, Facebook or by email.

Thank you everyone for your support and for sharing your adventures!

I would especially like to take the opportunity to thank: Karen, Sam, Phil, Tim, Chris, Jilly, Richard, Tookie, Gareth, Mike, Dave, Andrew, Martin, Dean, Karen, Colin, Andy, Basti, Jens and Steven for their ongoing support of and passion for Social Hiking (really sorry if there is anyone I have missed!)

Phil
Founder of Social Hiking

Introducing @advbot – Helping you Share Your Adventure

One thing that has always bothered me when out ‘Social Hiking’ is that most of my tweets lack context when published to the world. Whilst anyone viewing your map can see the location of your tweet in the context of your overall route (whether that is a short walk, a multi day hike or an epic global adventure), your tweet seems isolated amongst the general noise of a Twitter stream.

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