Skip to main content

Google slammed over 'potentially fatal' mountain hiking routes

Ben Nevis
Walkers need to choose the right approach to Ben Nevis summit (Image credit: Getty Images)

We all know that not everything you read on the internet is true or accurate, but when Google plots a walking route the chances are many people will trust it.

Unfortunately, hiking experts have claimed that several Google Map routes on some of Scotland’s highest mountains would lead walkers to potential danger – and might even prove lethal.

Now the tech giant has reportedly been forced to amend routes for some of their hikes to the summits of the likes of Ben Nevis.

Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis is a popular tourist destination  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Reports of 'crow fly' routes to high mountain tops

It was a route on the slopes of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK, that alerted walking guides and mountaineering groups to the issue.

Two organisations, the John Muir Trust, which looks after the upper area of Ben Nevis, and Mountaineering Scotland, became aware of the Google Map mountain routes last week.

According to reports, some hikers had downloaded a route for Ben Nevis that directed them from car park to the 1345m summit as the crow flies. 

But JMT described the route as "highly dangerous, even for experienced climbers".

The trust also said they often come across groups of inexperienced walkers heading towards Steall Falls or up the south slopes of Ben Nevis, both of which are not the most straightforward “tourist” route on the mountain.

One of the routes was said to head through steep, rocky and pathless terrain. In cloud, which often shrouds the higher slopes o the Ben, it could prove fatal for those without map or compass.

Other popular Munros have also apparently fallen foul of the app, including An Teallach in the north-west of Scotland. Even experienced hikers would require careful route guidance and map reading skills on this mountain ridge hike. 

The advice is that anyone who would like to walk one of Scotland’s mountains should seek the advice of a qualified guide or source a route from a reputable guidebook or website.

Learning to map read is essential for many mountain walks in Scotland and there are plenty of providers. 

It's reported that Google has also reconsidered its route guidance and direction on some of the Scottish mountains since they were alerted to the issues.

Fiona Russell

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.