Walkers who fancy stretching their legs on one of England’s national trails can now get a visual preview of their route.
Volunteers used a Google Trekker backpack camera to record the route of the Cleveland Way through the North York Moors national park.
The images were released over the festive season and can now be seen on a dedicated site in the Google Street View format.
The entire 109-mile Cleveland Way national trail is now live following the mapping exercise using a special elongated camera and computer equipment mounted in the backpack as part of the Google Trekker loan programme.
It took volunteers from the Hardmoors ultrarunning team the equivalent of 13 full days within a seven-month period to walk the length of the trail carrying the 23kg (51lb) backpack.
Capturing the images took time as the team could only use the Trekker on fine, bright days and they needed to ensure the camera kit remained upright as they walked slowly along, even when faced with low branches and scrambling over challenging terrain.
The image sequence has since been stitched together to provide viewers with panoramic vistas along the Cleveland Way, which stretches from Helmsley across the North York Moors to Saltburn-by-the-Sea before re-entering the national park and then following the coastline down to Filey.
Part of the route will also be familiar to Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walkers, as the two trails coincide for some distance.
Jon Steele of Hardmoors said: “It is great to see the project going live especially as there were several challenging sections when we were walking with the Trekker including scrambling up the Wainstones and ducking down low enough under trees and hedges.
“However there were many lighter moments particularly when we were treated like celebrities as we walked through Scarborough to applause from visitors, after news of the Trekker project had been released.
“Plus there was the time when a group of children thought I was strapped to a rocket and about to fly. We have never had so many photographs taken of us.”
Malcolm Hodgson, national trails officer, said: “It is fantastic to harness the power of Google Street View in this way.
“Taking a virtual tour of the trail not only showcases the beauty of the Cleveland Way but it can also be a valuable planning tool, particularly giving reassurance to novice walkers when they’re looking to stride out on a section of the route.
“Local businesses can also benefit as they can use the images on Street View to help provide directions and information for visitors.”
The Google Street View images of the route include the moorland when its heather is in full bloom and it becomes a sea of vibrant purple. Visitors can also see images of the section of the trail that opened this summer, as part of the England Coast Path launch, offering a new vantage point of the fishing village of Staithes.
Other highlights are the scene out from Sutton Bank that author James Herriot claimed was ‘the finest in England’, the sandstone crags of the Wainstones towards the north-western edge of the national park, and the views from the highest point at 454m (1,490ft) of the North York Moors on Urra Moor. The historical sights of Rievaulx Abbey and Whitby Abbey have also been captured on the Google Trekkers.
The Cleveland Way runs for 175km (109 miles) in a horseshoe loop across much of the North York Moors national park between Helmsley and Filey. The coastal Cleveland Way follows part of the England Coast Path, which will be 4,500km (2,795 miles) long when it is completed in 2020.
The trail is managed by the North York Moors National Park Authority and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.
The Cleveland Way on Google Street View can be found on the National Trails website.