Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A guided walk around Manchester

City Walk
What was the freebie? A City Walks App for Manchester
How? A competition win at Lindsey's wonderful Have Clothes, Will Travel blog

I've been looking forward to testing this prize for a while. Sunday was looming large and free and the sun came out to play so walking boots on, backpack on shoulders and on the train to Manchester to test the guided walks on this app.

The Hidden Gem
Manchester is my adopted 'home' city. I haven't lived in the city for some time but I've worked there for the past 25 years and love the place. I still get a thrill from exploring nooks and crannies and going back to spots I haven't been to for ages.

I used another freebie - the free bus, one for another post some day? - to get to the start point of the first walk. This walk is called the 'City Orientation Tour' and starts at City Walk before winding via Albert Square, Bridgewater Hall, Whitworth Street and ending at Piccadilly Gardens. 1.86 miles according to the app and a suggested 2 hours which allows for stopping and exploring some of the sites.

The app has GPS built in as you'd expect and it's very detailed. The suggested route uses footpaths, alleyways and canal towpaths that Google maps don't know.

Sunlight House - where I had my first job after university
Walking Manchester has great personal memories but I did learn a number of new facts such as the site of Manchester Castle (where Chet's School is now). I enjoyed the walk so much that after a stop for coffee and a pastry I walked back to the Opera House and started walk 2 - 'Historic Architecture' - that wound up to Cathedral.

Barton Arcade
At each stop I read the description and stamped the spot on the app. Flicking between the map with my little blue dot tracking me and the info does take it's toll on the battery but the app is used offline so you don't use all your data on the info, I used about 40Mb on the GPS for both walks. The only addition I'd like to see would be a chance to have audio directions rather than having to keep the phone out and using battery staring at the screen. I could have used Google maps like this but the app's routes are far more interesting if less direct, and as mentioned before it uses paths that Google doesn't recognise.


Manchester Central - my second (of 3) Blur gig

The app is free to download but you need to pay for the added content for each city. At just £3.99 these are a bargain and there are over 450 cities around the world available. I'll certainly be downloading others when I travel, starting with Munich this coming October.

A great prize, and a thoroughly recommended product, our kid.