- Guided Hillwalking Across the Scottish Highlands

Central Sutherland Crater Walk goes live

by JohnKing
Ben More Assynt from the Crater Route

Ben More Assynt from the Central Sutherland Crater Walk and now viewable through Google Street View

In the past few weeks the imagery that I gathered using a Google Trekker backpack in February/March 2017 has gone live on Google Street View. The experience of walking the route and capturing the pictures was a real adventure but seeing the final images is very exciting and makes the effort of carrying a 22kg load around central Sutherland all the more worthwhile! For more details about the Central Sutherland Crater Walk and how to access the imagery for yourself, see the press release below…

Explore the Deep Time landscape of Sutherland on Google Street View

A route mapped by mountain guide John King (King Mountaineering) that circumnavigates a meteorite impact crater made 1.2 billion years ago is now live on Google Street View. Take a digital journey and explore the Deep Time landscape of central Sutherland from anywhere in the world.

1.2 billion years ago, a meteorite hit the earth, creating an impact crater with the village of Lairg in the Northern Highlands of Scotland at its centre. Approximately 200 km in circumference, it ranks as one of the largest known impacts on Earth, and is the first to be discovered in the UK. Now almost hidden from view by millenia of geological change and transformation, its discovery in 2015 was the result of a decade of observation and research that began with a thin section of rock under a microscope.

Inspired by this deep time event where the astronomical and the geological intersect, mountain guide John King mapped a route that traces the circumference of the meteorite crater. Extending from the vast peatland expanse of the Flow Country in the North, to the Dornoch Firth in the south, and from the rolling hills of East Sutherland to the rocky edge of Assynt in the west, the crater becomes a feature by which to explore the varied landscapes, land-uses, geology and wildlife that exist in northern Scotland today.

Working in collaboration with Timespan, a cultural organisation in Helmsdale, Sutherland, he then walked the route carrying a Google Trekker backpack in Spring 2017. Google’s Trekker backpack is four feet high, weighs 22 kilograms and is fitted with a 15-lens camera that takes 360-degree pictures every 2.5 seconds. The technology enables walking routes to be captured and digitised in the same way Google Street View enables users to see 360-degree images of streets and roads.

This imagery is now online, offering an opportunity to explore the route digitally. To view, people should visit www.bit.ly/CraterRoute. It is also hoped that it might encourage those who can to follow the route, or sections of it, on foot and there are plans to launch a guidebook for the route in 2018.

As John King says:

“Walking the crater route was a great adventure. It takes you through a vast area of remote countryside with a constantly changing assortment of wildlife and landscapes. There are woodlands where you can see red squirrels and pine martens, then moorland and mountains with red deer, ptarmigan and golden eagle, and rivers and lochs famous for their Atlantic salmon. As you travel, you transition from the more populated and agricultural lands of Easter Ross into the wildest parts of North-West Sutherland with a population density of only 2 people per km2. The walk also provided a great opportunity to explore the history of the area, right back to its geological roots, and try to imagine how the landscape has changed over millenia.”

The project is a collaboration between John King and Timespan, and forms part of the latter’s Deep Time programme, a year-long investigation into distant pasts and equally distant futures. Through varied projects, exhibitions, and events, the programme is revisiting the rich geological landscape of the North Highland region, exploring the vast peatland expanse of the Flow Country, and uncovering Helmsdale’s medieval history and former medieval castle.

The Google Street View Camera loan program enables pro photographers, travellers, and organisations such as tourism boards, non-profits, government agencies, universities or research groups, to share 360 imagery from places around the world via Google Maps.  The program allows people to access previously unseen or hard-to-reach locations across the globe online, from the comfort of their home. The Street View Camera Loan Program is also open to those wanting to promote areas of cultural and historical significance, as well as those wanting to photograph business interiors. For more information, please visit https://www.google.com/streetview/loan/.