Getting your outdoors online

There was a new website launched the other day UK Hillwalking. It's sister site is UK Climbing. It's early days for it so I'm not going to pass any comment other than their front pages are very similar.
Years ago we didn't have these online resources. We relied on guide books, magazines and clubs to get our outdoor knowledge and meet people to get out on the hills with. Oh how things have changed. I look back at how I got my introduction to the hills. My first exposure was through school but it wasn't until I was invited to join the work hillwalking crew that I got properly into it first time round. The advice they gave me was based on their experience and the knowledge that they had amassed from the clubs they had been in, people they had walked with as well as from books and magazines they had read. 

Go forward a few years after a long break from all things hills and I wanted to get back into it. I started looking for info. It was 2003, we had the internet. My first stop was still to look for any clubs or groups at work but I was in London and at that time there was nothing near where I lived  and I couldn't persuade any friends to regularly join me. I started buying outdoor magazines to see what they were saying to get me up to date on the latest thinking. It was the chance comment of a friend who mentioned a website that had a lot of outdoors info and they had meets that I could go to if I fancied it. So I checked out Outdoorsmagic. I don't recall there being anything much else of a similar ilk available back then so after lurking on it for a while, getting my knowledge up to date, I took the plunge and started posting on the forum.

Here we are in 2011 and we have a very different picture. There are now a vast number of sites offering all sorts of information in all manner of formats. In fact when you do a Google search you are swamped with so many sites that you could spend weeks trying to sift through them.

But what is it that attracts us to certain sites and not other? I admit I have my favourites most of them are listed here on the blog so I wont repeat them. This is not exhaustive as I have many sites that I dip in and out of when I'm looking for specific things. For me one of the biggest things is the ease of use and pleasant look of a site as much as the content. I have given up on a few of the bigger sites, Live For the Outdoors being one, as they are just so frustrating to use. Others I love for the info they provide, such as Walk Highlands  and Scottish Hills though I must be honest and say that I don't tend to look at much more than the routes info. may be a list site but it's given me ideas for stuff I'd never considered before. Then there are the blogs - where to begin. PTC does get my top billing. He does it so well. I do find that I have to limit what I look at as before I know it the day has gone. It's my new version of the Sunday papers.    

In this ever competing market it's going to be really hard for any site to please everyone as we all have varying tastes and needs from our outdoors online media. And what about the print media? Who knows what the next evolution will bring. Suffice to say I wait with interest.


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