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As our projects are launched we love to share information about them with you. Our blog gives you further insights into each of our projects and a behind the scenes look at how we work. Our twitter page is also a place we enjoy to contribute to and share in the creative world of heritage interpretation. For our latest conversations, releases and thoughts please join us there.

 


Minehead Maritime Mile

Posted on June 14th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Tales and musings. No Comments

Discover Hidden Treasure

Visitors to Minehead who have downloaded the Minehead Maritime Mile app can unlock bonus content as they walk along the mile-long seafront. 3D models of some of Minehead’s iconic maritime history are brought to life with Augmented Reality, and archive videos reveal how Minehead used to look in yesteryear.

The App also features a quiz, with a prize for those who complete it, and souvenir selfie frames to share with friends, family and followers.

“Working with Dan from Audio Trails has been a pleasure. The Minehead Maritime Mile Trail App has exceeded expectations! … we are delighted with all features especially the augmented reality, it offers more interaction and interest for visitors to Minehead.”

Nicki Maclean, Tourism & Economy Officer – Energy Infrastructure of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

“The Maritime Mile showcases Minehead’s history and heritage and is … Read More »


Ayr Through The Ages app

Posted on February 2nd, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

‘Ayr Through the Ages’ is a location-aware trail through Ayr’s rich and colourful past.

The trail leads you from the 13th to the 21st century, guiding you to 24 key locations and points of interest around the auld town. Learn about poet Robert Burns’ home town and the stories associated with him and other historical figures such as William Wallace. Whether you wish to spend all day exploring and listening or just have half an hour to spare, this app will help you find the nearest point of interest to your current location, and offer you glimpses into Auld Ayr.

Souvenir selfie

At some of the stops take a souvenir selfie and share it with friends, families and followers.

The next version of the app will include audio files to listen to at seven custom made benches that are being designed and installed by … Read More »


Best walking apps 2018

Posted on January 4th, by admin in Heritage apps, Tales and musings. No Comments

Looking for iOS and Android apps that will get you walking and exploring new places? Try out these five fabulous free apps:

1) This is Gower

 

Gower is the beautiful peninsula near Swansea in south Wales, and Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The app features 17 easy-to-follow trails varying in length and theme – from a quick visit to the remains of WW2 defences on Mumbles Hill, to a wild ramble out to Whiteford National Nature Reserve.

More info and download.

2) Discover Derbyshire & Peak District

The Peak District was the UK’s first National Park and its paths are some of the most walked across Britain. The 24 walks within this app aren’t the usual run of the mill honey pot trails. Use this app to discover hidden gems across the region.

More info and download.

3) Heart of Teesdale

What inspired local artists, such as Turner … Read More »


Can some visitors be beyond interpretation?

Posted on December 19th, by admin in interpretive planning, Tales and musings. No Comments

This month I decided to re-read Freeman Tilden’s seminal work “Interpreting Our Heritage”. All these years later it still underpins how we approach heritage interpretation. Yet, something occurred to me whilst I was reading the book, and it relates to audiences; more specifically those who come to a heritage site or museum to build on their extensive knowledge.

As interpreters we are encouraged to think of our target audiences as ‘window shoppers’ who are receptive to ‘learning’ if it captures their imagination. Tilden himself states, “To capitalise on this mood, even if it arises from pure curiosity of whim, is a challenge to the interpreter.” He adds, “The visitor is unlikely to respond unless what you have to tell, or show, touched his personal experience, thoughts, hopes, way of life, social position, or whatever else.”

This second quote suggests interpretation can appeal … Read More »


Native of web app?

Audio Trails boast a rich back catalogue of location-aware native apps for heritage sites and tourist attractions. They have now launched a web equivalent. Creative Director Dan Boys explains the pros and cons of both approaches.

When it comes to software, location-aware apps are what we (Audio Trails) specialise in. For us, a location-aware app uses location (via a potential combination of GPS, mobile connectivity, wifi and/or bluetooth beacons) to automatically alert the user to relevant digital content (text, images, audio, video) within the proximity of a device. It will also tell you how far away you are from other content. This content may refer to a place of interest, an event or a walking trail.

For many years we have been building native apps – designed specifically for iOS and Android devices – on behalf of local authorities, charities and communities. … Read More »

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Derby Feste

Posted on September 25th, by admin in Case Study, Mapping, website. No Comments

Visitors to Derby’s biggest and brightest festival will be guided by placesandtrails.com this year.

Derby Festé is an annual festival of a wide range of street art, theatre, music and family fun. Every year the event attracts more than 30,000 people to the streets of Derby.

Feedback from previous years has suggested that visitors have found it difficult to navigate their way to the free events spread throughout the city centre from noon on Saturday 30th September 2017.

With a packed programme of diverse acts, Gravity Digital (who co-ordinate the market activities for Derby Festé) contacted Audio Trails on behalf of Déda Derby UK for a simple solution to this problem.

Audio Trails have been providing digital solutions for heritage sites and tourist attractions for more than a decade. Our location-aware native (iOS and Android) platform has been used to build apps for the Yorkshire … Read More »

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Beautifully chaotic oral history interview with Amanda Owen

Posted on September 19th, by admin in Audio Trails, oral history, Tales and musings. No Comments

During the course of my work I get to interview some wonderful people and get an intimate but short-lived window into their lives. My beautifully chaotic interview with the ‘Yorkshire Shepherdess’, Amanda Owen, has to rank as one of my favourites.

Driving to the Yorkshire Dales on a crisp early autumn morning brought back lovely memories of my time working on a moorland restoration project in the early 2000s. The uplands have a unique smell – a mix of fresh air, vegetation and peat – and my destination today was in the heart of the Upper Swaledale.

Amanda Owen, watched by millions on ITV’s The Dales, met me at the door with babe on hip and two young smiling toddlers in tow. She and her young family live a life that has almost gone in today’s modern world, a life ruled by her … Read More »


Ingleborough Archaeological app

Posted on September 8th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping, Tales and musings. No Comments

A location aware app with free Ordnance Survey mapping to help you discover the archaeology of Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales.

Ingleborough Archaeology Group (IAG) is based in Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales of England. Its focus is on the Ingleborough massif and the surrounding valleys of Kingsdale, Chapel le Dale and Ribblesdale.

The Group exists to further research and understanding of the historic heritage of its core area by archival research and archaeological investigation. It has been involved in a broad range of excavations.

Audio Trails were approached to create an app to showcase some of the groups finds along three archaeology walks in the National Nature Reserve on Ingleborough, North Yorkshire, England. The three walks are all approximately 5 miles long. Two depart from Ribbleside (one heading to Selside and the other to Great Douk and Southescales), whilst the third takes in South House, Sulber and … Read More »


When does graffiti become heritage?

Posted on August 21st, by admin in Case Study, Photography/Video, Tales and musings. No Comments

From cave paintings to modern day street art, humans have been leaving their marks on walls for tens of thousands of years. But when does ‘vandalism’ become graffiti? And when does graffiti become art, or heritage? Dan Boys from Audio Trails attempts to leave his own mark on the subject.

Graffiti, from the Italian word graffiare (to scratch), reflects someone’s urge to say something – to comment, to inform, entertain, persuade, offend or simply to confirm his or her own existence here on earth.

The earliest examples of graffiti can be found in Burgundy, France, dating back more than 30,000 years. Within the caves of Grottes d’Arcy, simple, yet fluid drawings of mammoth can be found on cave walls. In the Roman world graffiti was used to declare an allegiance and illustrate the vicious rivalry between Roman communities. And today, political messages … Read More »


Lead Mining Museum Matlock – audio production

Posted on August 3rd, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Museum, Tales and musings. No Comments

Step back in time and listen to Richard Trevithick explain how his new engine will transform a Peak District lead mine.

In the 1970’s there was great excitement when the Wills Founder Engine was discovered in a lead mineshaft in the field at the back of what is now Winster’s Cemetery.

The story behind Richard Trevithick’s engine, which now takes pride of place in the Peak District Lead Mining Museum at Matlock Bath, has been brought to life.

Audio Trails were commissioned to produce a short piece of audio, set deep down in the mine, featuring an interview between Trevithick and a reporter. As you listen to the audio in the museum, different parts of the water pumping engine are lit up, helping visitors to understand the machine and how it worked.

Testimonial

Working with Audio Trails – Our contact with you was by phone and email.  On … Read More »


A review of the Alcatraz Island cellhouse audio tour

Posted on May 8th, by admin in Audio Trails, Tales and musings. No Comments

Did the Alcatraz Island cell house audio tour live up to expectations? Yes!

When it comes to audio guides of international significance the cellhouse tour at Alcatraz has to be one of the most talked about. For years it has been on my bucket list and last month I finally got to visit the island where Al Capone and many of the USA’s most hardened criminals were held between 1924 and 1963.

Alcatraz Island is a popular destination for tourists and I made sure I booked tickets well in advance; getting them on the day is nigh on impossible. We opted for the 09.10 trip on the 1.5 mile boat ride across the choppy waters, but still the crowds were big. However, with only the early bird seafarers ahead of us the island had not swelled significantly in population and we were … Read More »


We’ll do the content ourselves…

Posted on April 28th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Do non-interpreters overlook the art, skill and time required to create good content? Creative Director Dan Boys argues that it may come down to growing confidence and shrinking budgets.

Over the last few years I have noticed something of a trend: more and more clients want to provide and curate their own digital content.

I don’t have an issue with this per-se; there are plenty of talented people out there who can write fantastic interpretive text and work wonders with a camera. Sometimes I am struck by the quality.

We’ve recently finished a project in the Forest of Dean. The client supplied a series of over twenty animated gifs for inclusion in the Hidden Heritage of the Dean app. The images seamlessly fade from historical photos (some 120 years old) to perfect modern day reproductions. These accurate match-ups took months to produce. Firstly … Read More »


Apps – Places and Trails

Location-aware (web and native) app platform for digital storytelling

We have three options to help you share your stories about places of interest and guiding visitors along walking trails. Are you looking for an audio-only option or do you have multimedia (text, images, audio and video) to share? Do you want a native (iOS/Android) or a web app? Select from the options below:

Location-aware multimedia web apps

Showcase and trigger multimedia PLACES AND TRAILS linked to ANY location, on ANY device with a web browser. Link it seamlessly to your own website. More…

 

Location-aware multimedia native apps

Native Apps are installed via the App Store or Google Play onto (and limited to) iOS and Android devices. Our native apps can be enhanced with plugins that make the most of the device’s functionality. More…

 

Location-aware audio trail apps

‘Listen’ is our GPS-triggered audio tour guide app. Press play and and put the screen away. The … Read More »

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Places & Trails – web app

Posted on March 1st, by admin in Digital Interpretation. No Comments

Showcase and trigger multimedia PLACES AND TRAILS linked to ANY location, on ANY device with a web browser.

Our Places and Trails web app is a website. It displays on any device with a web browser: desktops, smartphones tablets etc and will therefore seamlessly link with your own website.

Our innovative technology uses geo-location to display and trigger content relative to the user (this feature can be switched on and off). With no set up costs, you just pay as you go (minimum 3 month term). Web apps may not have the same access to a device’s native features, but they are a cheaper alternative to dedicated native (iOS/Android) apps, plus users can ‘favourite’ places and trails. Please note that strong 3G/4G mobile coverage is preferred for optimum performance.

Clients are given their own sub-domain and the site is tailored to your branding (see wembley.placesandtrails.com as an example. For more … Read More »


Audio trails & Oral history

An audio trail builds a story, guiding visitors from one point of interest to the next.

Our audio guides create a journey of audio discovery, brought to life by a narrator, oral reminiscences, sound effects, music and/or characterisation. They add a layer of magic to any walk, trail or hike.

Listen to a short showreel or browse our back catalogue.

Straight from the horse’s mouth

Audio trails are at their most engaging when they use the voices of people who know those stories best. Involving young people in the process is a very rewarding experience too.

Audio trails (you may called them audio guides or audio tours) are unobtrusive and provide stories without visitors having to look at a screen, booklet or interpretation panel. They are a perfect solution for visually impaired visitors. They are created as MP3 files – a universal music format – and are easily added to a website, app or museum/visitor centre hardware, ready to be enjoyed by visitors.

Contact us … Read More »


Hanging geology out on a washing line

Posted on January 30th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

How do you convey a sense of geologic time to the public? One option is to focus on the major events in the evolution our planet and its residents, and hang them on a washing line.

Most nonscientists are familiar with at least some of the major evolutionary events of our plant’s history. Virtually everyone knows about dinosaurs and that they lived a long time ago. But when did they live relative to the history of this planet?

Why not deploy a length of washing line, on which every inch (25.4mm) represents 20 million years and attached paper markers for all the significant events.

The origins of earth

Your washing line will need to be 18 feet, 11.5 inches (577.9cm) long. The first mark to be encountered on the rope denotes the origin of the earth; the oldest known rocks on the planet, from northwestern … Read More »

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MK Trails: Wolverton app – Milton Keynes

Posted on December 13th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, oral history, Tales and musings. No Comments

How do you learn about the world’s first railway town that has now been absorbed by the 1960s new town of Milton Keynes? Why, download the MK Trails app of course!

“Imagine a geometric pattern of raw, red brick, made up of long straight streets of terraced houses criss-crossing each other…the whole plumped down in the middle of gently undulating green fields and cornlands…and you have a rough bird’s eye view of my home town, Wolverton”

Greta Barker, Buckinghamshire Born

A town of modest red brick terraces, Wolverton is nevertheless unique as the world’s first ‘railway town’. It was built by the London and Birmingham Railway Company in the 1830s to house its workshops and workers.

Welcome To…Milton Keynes

Working with Milton Keynes Living Archive and Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council, Audio Trails have developed a smartphone app based upon their Welcome To…Native app software. The MK Trails: Wolverton app guides visitors and locals around some … Read More »


Softwood Interpretation Panels

Posted on December 1st, by admin in Case Study, panels, Tales and musings. No Comments

Low cost softwood interpretation panels from Audio Trails.

Derbyshire-based Junction Arts needed two low-cost interpretation panels for a community arts project in Brimington, near Chesterfield. None of the usual suppliers were able to supply anything within budget, but Audio Trails came to the rescue!

The two A2 softwood panels have fit snuggly into their new home. Printing, frame construction and install came in comfortably under the £1000 budget.

Testimonials

“I am very impressed with the finished product.  2 weeks from quote to install is amazing.  A councillor’s nightmare is that something will not be done in the time that you have told your constituents it will be done. In your case you were a week earlier which took the pressure off me. Well done.

I will most certainly recommend you to my colleagues and anyone else I come across.”

Tricia Gilby, County Councillor for Brimington, Hollingwood and … Read More »

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Highland Folk Museum GPS audio trail app

Posted on December 1st, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping, Tales and musings. No Comments

The Highland Folk Museum, Britain’s first open air museum, has many fascinating stories to tell.
As visitors explore the 30 buildings they get a flavour of how Highland people lived and worked from the 1700s up until the 1960s.

Now visitors can also join Alan Crawford and listen to his story ‘In the Land of the Glittering Wood Moss’ and go on a magical journey into the past to discover why Scottish ancient woodland is so special.

Each chapter of the story is played automatically to visitors mobile devices as they move through the 1 mile site.
How is it done?

The story is delivered using Audio Trails’ GPS Tour Guide app software for iOS and Android, which focusses purely on the delivery of audio. Accordingly, visitors don’t even need to take their device out of their pocket or bag to use it!

With no screen distractions, visitors can breathe in the … Read More »


Sprinting before you run

Posted on November 21st, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Developing app software, as you can imagine, is not a simple task. More importantly it can be difficult for clients – often on their first foray into the app development process – to visualise an app’s User Experience before it is built.

Accordingly, we’ve found that meaningful testing will only take place once clients have their own app to play with; even if it will potentially look and feel like an app already launched on our Welcome To app platforms.

Invest in stories

The process begins with a review of corporate objectives and end-user personas to create a vision. From this we develop a list of everything that the app could potentially do to meet those needs. As people think in narratives, we build this list of ‘stories’ using the INVEST mnemonic, i.e. each one is:

–  Independent – actionable and ‘completable’ on its … Read More »


Heart of Teesdale app

Posted on October 19th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Tales and musings. No Comments

A location-aware (iOS & Android) app taking you to the sites that inspired the creative talents of revered artists such as JW Turner and Sir Walter Scott.

The Heart of Teesdale (HoT) Landscape Partnership is a Heritage Lottery funded (HLF) project based in Barnard Castle in Teesdale and hosted by Durham County Council.

Features

Audio Trails was commissioned to develop an app that showcases:

– the cultural heritage of local artists, such as Turner and Cotman, and writers, such as Walter Scott

– modern artistic heritage through HoT’s Teesdale Viewmarkers project -12 modern viewmarkers placed in the landscape, and the rich (sometimes gruesome) history of Barnard Castle.

The app also contains:

– Maps and directions for 11 walking trails of varying distance and themes, with GPS tracking

– Fascinating information about historic and cultural places of interest that make Teesdale unique

– A focus on music and dialect and the importance of place … Read More »


This is Gower iOS & Android app

The Gower Peninsula in Swansea is a land of history, beauty and amazing variety.

The ‘This is Gower’ app has featured on BBC’s Countryfile and Radio Wales. Scroll down to watch/listen.

There are now several resources available to help you explore Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and learn about its natural and built heritage, its archaeology and lesser-known industrial history, together with past traditions and practices.

This is Gower app

‘This is Gower’ is a location-aware guide to the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

With over 80 places to explore, the app (available on iOS and Android) promotes popular locations such as Worms Head and Arthur’s Stone alongside other less well-known spots that appeal to both visitors and locals alike.

This is Gower also features 15 easy-to-follow trails varying in length and theme for users to explore – from a quick jaunt to visit … Read More »


Happy 15th birthday iPod

Posted on September 30th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Apple’s iPod is the cornerstone of portable digital music as we know it today. So how did it inspire music lovers, and heritage interpreters?

“With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go.” said former Apple CEO Steve Jobs when he introduced the iPod on October 23, 2001. “With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.”

It took 3 years before the iPod really gained traction, and like many of Apple’s products, it wasn’t the first of its kind. MP3 players had been around for a few years previous, but the iPod could hold more music and was complemented by iTunes. This software made transferring music much easier than anything before it.

When phones were for calls

Back in 2004 mobile phones … Read More »


Pitch@Palace

Posted on September 29th, by admin in Uncategorized. No Comments

Last week we had an audience with Prince Andrew The Duke of York, KG at Pitch@Palace 6.0 to demo our new product for 2017.

Along with 16 other entrepreneurs we pitched the concept of a web-based version of our GPS-triggered native apps to an audience of CEOs, Investors and Mentors at The AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre), Sheffield.

Entrepreneurs from Biotech and Medical Technology to Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality all had 3 minutes to win the hearts of the judges.

“The standard and passion of Businesses today was outstanding. We will support you with next steps.”

The Duke of York

Our pitch was to get introductions to key decision makers who run tourist attractions and heritage sites. Our new cross-browser web app uses HTML5 geolocation to trigger places of interest and trails, just like our native (iOS and Android) app software currently offers.

The website will come online in … Read More »


Forest of Dean Hidden Heritage app

Posted on July 22nd, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping, Photography/Video. No Comments

The Forest of Dean’s heritage is no longer a fading memory.

Through the power of amazing imagery, the Hidden Heritage of the Dean iOS and Android app reveals the area’s rich industrial past that was in danger of being lost forever.

In 2015 Audio Trails was commissioned by a group of passionate local historians with a life-long love of the area’s gritty past to develop an app. Bob Smith was one of those Foresters,

“As an eight year old I used to wonder around the Forest looking for signs of its mining and rail past. I felt strongly for the last 20 years that our real heritage was being obliterated, hidden and lost in pursuit of the Forest being turned into an adventure park.”

With the help of an interactive 1920s Ordnance Survey map, the GPS-triggered app guides visitors along the Forest of Dean’s ‘Family cycle trail’ – the former Severn and … Read More »


Pokemon Go for heritage sites and nature reserves

Posted on July 18th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Pokemon Go is not the first AR game app where the public seek to collect hidden characters.

A few years back we developed ‘Mission:Butterfly‘ for Caerphilly Borough County Council. The app uses a combination of ordinary technologies built into smartphones, including location tracking and cameras, to encourage people to explore a nature reserve, seeking collectible characters that they try to nab.

Sounds familiar? This game has many functional comparisons with Pokemon Go, but it goes to show it usually needs something rather momentus to push a concept mainstream. Augmented Reality has been found for some time now and we will no doubt see lots of variants of Pokemon Go in the coming months/years.

You may have read the positive (encouraging people to get out and explore their own and other communities) and negative (people being robbed, stabbed and shot!) news stories about Pokeman … Read More »


Perry Common and Me audio trail

Posted on July 5th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, oral history. No Comments

An audio trail celebrating community activism.

From a crime-riddled no-go area to desirable estate. That has been the transformation of Perry Common over the last 25 years – all captured in the Perry Common and Me audio trail.

In the 1920s Witton Lodge Farm became a housing estate on the outskirts of Birmingham. Residents from the cities back-to-back slums were moved to this idyllic spot. The new houses were built from an innovative design of steel and concrete that would prove to be their downfall half a century later.

Once these infamous Boot Houses began to fail in the 1980s, residents were told their houses would be demolished, yet they were given no assurances about where they would live. The community was about to be torn apart. The residents took action and took the lead in protecting their future. It was hard work, but their … Read More »


Ashdown Forest Explorer

Posted on June 21st, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping. No Comments

The Ashdown Forest Explorer iOS app is the essential guide to exploring the home of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Ashdown Forest is the largest public access space in the South East of England, attracting at least 1.5 million visitors a year.  On account of its heathland and populations of many rare species, it is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  It also lies at the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is ‘home’ to one of the world’s most famous fictional creatures, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Despite this, visitors often find it difficult to orientate themselves when they arrive at any of the 44 car parks located across the Forest’s 10 square miles.

The Ashdown Forest Explorer iOS app locates you in the Forest and offers ten walking trails to help you explore all corners of the Forest. Why not follow in the footsteps of Pooh, visit the Airman’s Grave or … Read More »

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Walking the Central Line

Posted on June 15th, by admin in Museum, Tales and musings. 1 Comment

The second in a series of walks following London’s underground. This time it is the Central Line.

In February I walked the line of the Victoria Undergound Line, overground. I’m doing it again, but this time the Central Line will be the inspiration.

So why am I not walking the full line? Firstly, it is 46 miles long in its entirety and reading between the lines, the east and western sections were a bit of a slog for Mark Mason who wrote ‘Walking the Lines’ my inspiration for these walks. Secondly, the reason I am in London is because I have a meeting in Stratford. In fact I have two, so it seems a sensible place to begin, and then head west. Having re-read the Central Line chapter in Walking the Lines, Mason hasn’t included as many fun facts for this line so I’ve … Read More »


Crossing the Peak District on the High Peak Trail

Posted on June 7th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Although I only live a 10 minute drive from the start of the High Peak Trail, I have never travelled its full length. In fact I realised there are some sections that I had never visited. It’s also longer than I thought too!

The High Peak Trail follows the route of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway that connected the Cromford and Peak Forest canals. It starts at High Peak Junction before heading steeply uphill – a rise of 300m over the first 7km.

This eastern end is a section I am very familiar with and it features in one of the trails on our free Discover Derbyshire & Peak District app – the Cromford Heritage Trail – it includes plenty of information about the railway and Sir Richard Arkwright – pioneer of the modern factory system. In fact, just a few … Read More »


Is Bryson the new Tilden?

Posted on June 2nd, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

In Bill Bryson’s latest book, the nation’s favourite travel writer spends quite some time giving his opinion on the museum world.

I’ve just finished reading Bill Bryson’s latest book The Road to Little Dribbling. Boy, he’s gotten grumpy! That’s not a criticism. It adds an edge to his witty quips and observations.

His sequel to Notes from a Small Island, the most successful travel book ever, sees Bryson re-explore his adopted homeland. Now, I’ve come a little too late to the table to offer a book review but I have been drawn to write about the museum visits he makes during the book, and his interpretation…of the interpretation.

Bryson, a former President of the CPRE, is a passionate fan of the British countryside and in my mind makes some valuable observations about museum visitors, and for one he represents one of the larger … Read More »


A weekend walk in Froghall in the Churnet Valley

Posted on May 24th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, oral history, Tales and musings. 1 Comment

This 5 mile walk commences with a sedate journey along the Caldon Canal from Froghall before rising out of the valley through lush woodland. Breathe in wonderful views before concluding with a walk down what is claimed to be the oldest official railway in the world.

It’s a May weekend and I’m staying at Foxtwood Cottages in return for writing this trail for the Discover Derbyshire & Peak District app. It’s the second time this year we’ve come to such an arrangement with an accommodation provider.

Today Froghall Wharf is a quintessential idyllic rural location, but in every corner lies evidence of a once bustling hub of industry.

Imagine the scene here in the 19th century. Small trucks laden with limestone would have continuously arrived down the incline from Caldon Low Quarry, three miles to the east. Loads were shunted around the yard … Read More »


A visit to Cromford Mills – the world’s first factory

Posted on April 28th, by admin in Museum, Tales and musings. No Comments

Cromford Mill, gateway to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, was the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill. Today the site is undergoing another transformation, with innovation once again at its heart.

As a member of Marketing Derbyshire & Peak District I was invited to a familiarisation day at Cromford Mills. This was an opportunity not to be missed.

This hugely historic site – the birthplace of the factory system and all that came with it – is a 15 minute journey from my door, yet I realised I still had much to learn about its history.

The aim of the event was to introduce Cromford Mill’s newly unveiled  Gateway and ‘Arkwright Experience’. We were welcomed with tea, coffee and cake – big yummy cake direct from their cafe – and a presentation by Chief Executive Sarah Mcleod.

Then it was on … Read More »


Rufford Abbey app

Posted on April 28th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping. No Comments

Walk through the centuries at Rufford Abbey.

Rufford Abbey is the best-preserved remains of a Cistercian abbey west cloister range in England, dating mainly from around 1170. It was later incorporated into part of a 17th century mansion, set in the beautiful grounds of what is now Rufford Country Park.

Use the iOS and Android apps to explore some of Rufford’s hidden history as you walk around the modern day country park.

You can play our Tree Trail iSpy game and take a unique souvenir photo of your visit using one of our special photo frames. The app also contains a timeline picture gallery.

“I was initially a bit nervous about commissioning a phone app to help visitors explore the history of our site.  I feared being confused by technobabble. To my relief, Dan didn’t overwhelm me with smartphone and developer jargon. He explained the development … Read More »


South Pennines Reservoir Trails app

Posted on April 27th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

The reservoirs and surrounding landscape of the South Pennines provide a fantastic place for recreation and wildlife. These reservoirs also have a fascinating history that you can discover when you download the FREE South Pennines Reservoirs Trails app.
UPDATE:

For 2016 the app has been given a visual overhaul and two new trails have been added.

Google Play review:

Excellent app, great to see support for these areas. I enjoy doing some of these walks around moorland reservoirs and this app is a fantastic addition to the experience and will also open up new area for me to explore. 5/5 top marks and thank you to the people with the vision to create this.

Earn Badges

Earn and share badges each time you check-in to a new Place.

Features

The app is based upon our Welcome to app software and includes an interactive GPS map, walking trails and … Read More »


Dinosnores sleepover at NHM

Posted on April 25th, by admin in Museum, Tales and musings. No Comments

It’s not every night you get to sleep in the shadows of the Natural History Museum’s most famous resident.

Late on Saturday afternoon, armed with sleeping bags and snacks, we joined a growing queue of onesie-wearing kids (and their guardians) at a side entrance to the Natural History Museum (NHM). We were here for Dinosnores, a special sleepover event at the museum.

If you’ve ever watched the Night at the Museum film series then your curiosity will have no doubt been piqued by exactly what happens at museums when everyone goes home. We were here to find out.

Our Team Leader lead us into Hintze Hall, the central hall where the fossil replica of Dippy the diplodocus currently stands guard over the main entrance. As one of the first ‘Red Raptors’ to arrive, we were given the option to select any one of … Read More »


Milford Haven Museum audio trail

Posted on April 15th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study. No Comments

Discover how the Pembrokeshire town of Milford Haven was created and has developed over the years with a new audio guide at the museum.

Having already produced two audio trails around the town on behalf of the Milford Haven Port Authority, Audio Trails were commissioned by the museum to record multi-lingual audio tours around the refurbished museum.

Milford Haven has been connected with a number of industries – fishing, Quaker whaling from 1790s, which led to the whale oil industry and more recently the modern oil industry. It has also played an important role during the two World Wars, when it was a convoy assembly point for mine-sweeping. The Museum collection reflects all of these aspects of the town’s history, but focuses particularly on the maritime history.

‘The Milford Haven Museum is embracing the 21st century with the new multi-lingual audio tour handsets they have to offer in 2016. Visitors will now be … Read More »


Archaeological Way app

Posted on April 15th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping. No Comments

The Archaeological Way is an 11-mile multi-user trail between Pleasley Pit Country Park and Creswell Crags.

The new location-aware iOS and Android Archaeological Way app lets you explore the history of a changing limestone landscape. The underlying geology of Permian Magnesian Limestone has helped create the landscape you’ll discover. Grasslands, farmland and woodlands are crossed by small streams which carved gorges and vales, such as Creswell Crags and Pleasley Vale. Disused railway lines and old colliery sites are transformed into trails and country parks. Shirebrook Wood, Poulter and Pleasley Pit country parks are now havens for wildlife.

Local Derbyshire firm Audio Trails worked with Bolsover Countryside Partnership and Limestone Journeys to develop the app, which features an offline map, audio interviews with local people and public artworks commissioned as part of the project. The app also includes a field guide to the areas flora and fauna, compiled by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

‘I’d like to … Read More »


Yorkshire Dales Lead Mining app

Posted on April 4th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping. No Comments

Walkers can now take a trip back in time to discover the industrial history of the Yorkshire Dales national park, thanks to new app.

For decades, lead mining played a massive part in the shaping of the landscape and the communities in the national park.

The free app, which has been developed by Audio Trails on behalf of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and mainly funded by Historic England, is an absolute must for anyone who wants to learn about the industry while they are actually walking around the sites. It’s like having your own personal tour guide.

The app contains archive images, site descriptions, plus pinch and zoom OS maps for the whole national park. Sites range from Grassington miners’ cottages to the Old Gang peat store in Swaledale.

There are also audio trails, walking routes, activities for children and useful visitor … Read More »


Cultybraggan Camp goes digital

Posted on March 24th, by admin in Case Study. No Comments

Cultybraggan Camp is one of the last remaining and best preserved purpose-built WWII Prisoner of War camps in Britain.

The Comrie Development Trust are embarking on an exciting mission to attract more visitors to this important piece of heritage.

Audio Trails were commissioned to advise how visitors to one of Scotland’s hidden gems could connect to digital content regarding the history of Cultybraggan Camp; how that content can be delivered on site; and what stories should be told.

Today, the remaining Nissen Huts provide a physical link to the stories of the people that lived and worked at Cultybraggan: Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess was said to be held here, along with the Black patches (the most ardent Nazis). The camp also boasts it own ‘Great Escape’, and a murder or two.

The Interpretation Plan provides supporting evidence for a large HLF bid that will not only see the … Read More »


Discovering shark’s teeth in south east London

Posted on March 24th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Tales and musings. 1 Comment

During two 2-day visits this year I’ve had the opportunity to explore some of south east London’s geological wonders. Do you know where in the city to find 55 million year old sharks teeth, and 6000 year old forests?

The answers are revealed in twelve geological time trails, available to download from the Green Chain website. Here’s a little more of what you can expect:

Geology can be a tricky subject to understand, but its influence on the land above is astounding. It is London’s strata that determined underground train lines could only be dug on the north of the Thames and not on the south side. For the experts that undertake this kind of engineering project you may find them at Gilbert’s Pit. This is a rare chance to see all of London’s geological strata and understand what problems the different … Read More »


Steelos Gallery Exhibition (Magna)

Posted on February 29th, by admin in Case Study, Mapping, Museum, oral history, panels. No Comments

Audio Trails were chosen to design and build a permanent exhibition (with a twist) that welcomes visitors to Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham.

Magna is an exciting journey into the world of steelmaking. The Templeborough steelworks (as it was called) was once the largest electric melting shop in the world and the site’s industrial history stretches back to Roman times. ‘Steel, Peech and Tozer’ was the company, but everyone called it ‘Steelos’.

Previously the concrete bunker through which visitors first entered Magna was dark and uninspiring. With funding secured through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Magna were able to commission Audio Trails to turn this dour space into a vibrant exhibition that reveals the 2000 year history of steelmaking on this site.

The interpretation panels provide a timeline and insight into the people that worked here. You can listen to their stories and read more about the site’s history on … Read More »


Walking the Victoria Undergound line overground

Posted on February 8th, by admin in Tales and musings. 2 comments

Ever wondered what it would be like to follow the London Underground through the streets? It may be a slower form of transport but you get to see a lot more.

After spending two days exploring the vertical layers of geology that south east London has to offer I now find myself on a train to Brixton. Why? I’m going to explore a different cross section of the city. This time a horizontal one from south west to north east; although once again, the geology has played an important role in this walks origin.

Today I am walking the Victoria underground line, overground; through its streets rather than its intended subterranean course. This journey is inspired by a book I picked up in a charity shop last year. Walking the Lines records Mark Mason’s journey walking all of London’s underground lines overground, … Read More »


Abbeydale Explorer app

Audio Trails were appointed to design and develop a multimedia tour for Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Sheffield; a unique eighteenth century industrial steelworks.

Abbeydale is a challenging site for visitors to understand and, in particular, to explore physically. Some key spaces are inaccessible for people with impaired mobility. The Abbeydale Explorer app provides an enhanced visiting experience for the wide spectrum of people that visit.

Features

Visitors can borrow iPads when they buy tickets or download the app to their own iOS or Android device. The app contains subtitled fly-through videos that provide a guide to inaccessible parts of the site. Engaging and informative text, plus audio commentaries and high quality photographs further allow visitors to understand the rich history of Abbeydale. Visitors can also use the app to create and send virtual postcards, follow story themes and partake in fun activities at each … Read More »


Discover Exmoor

Posted on December 10th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, Mapping, oral history, Uncategorized. No Comments

Explore, discover and enjoy the amazing landscape, wildlife and heritage of Exmoor with this official National Park Authority app.

Exmoor National Park, in south west England is a unique landscape of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland, shaped by people and nature over thousands of years. Rich in wildlife and history, Exmoor is one of England’s finest landscapes.

Hidden heritage revealed

The Discover Exmoor app iOS and Android apps offer fascinating, location-aware information on key sites throughout Exmoor, revealing hidden heritage through pictures, text and audio. Walking routes allow visitors to join these points of interest together and make the most of any visit. Once downloaded all the content (including zoomable mapping) is available to use offline.

Send a postcard/ask an expert

The app lets you send a virtual postcard to friends, family and following, and if you want to know the answer to a burning question about … Read More »


Discover Derbyshire & Peak District app

Posted on November 24th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps, oral history, Tales and musings. No Comments

Discover and explore 225 ‘hidden gems’ across Derbyshire and the Peak District.

The new ‘Discover Derbyshire & Peak District’ Android and iOS app features self-guided walking trails with historical photos from private collections and the public domain.

Discovering which suburb was built by a Russian wrestler, where Liquorice Allsorts were invented, how a duck made a lasting impression in a tree and why a social outcast had a hamlet named after him are just some of the stories contained in the location-aware ‘virtual museum’ app.

James Berresford, CEO at Visit England grew up in Derbyshire:

“As a local boy I was impressed by the range and depth of lesser known places and topics the app unearthed. It’s definitely not the usual run of the mill, to be expected content – well done!”

An innovative ‘superimpose’ feature allows app users to have fun taking their own … Read More »


Great Fen app

Posted on October 22nd, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

Discover the past, present and future of the revolutionary Great Fen project to create a living landscape for the benefit of wildlife and people.

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire wanted an interactive mobile app to act as an interpretative and way-finding tool to take people through the Great Fen landscape.

The Great Fen is one of the largest restoration projects of its type in Europe. With this new app, built using our Welcome To app software, you can explore this huge wetland landscape and learn about the unprecedented conservation benefits it has bought for wildlife, as well as building new opportunities for people. With fascinating information guiding you on your exploration, the iOS and Android apps brings together trails, species information, heritage conservation and social interaction features in one handy interactive guide.

Features:

Discover audio, film and stunning images as you … Read More »


Tring Heritage Trail App and Education Pack

Posted on September 29th, by admin in Case Study, Education, Heritage apps, Museum, Tales and musings. No Comments

As part of Tring 700 initiative – celebrating the heritage of 700 years of Tring as a market town – Tring Together wanted to create a Heritage Trail that introduces visitors to sites of historical interest around the town.

Audio Trails were commissioned to create an HLF-funded location-aware app for iOS and Android, and an education pack. Both the app and education pack contain information and fun activity points along the trails. The app includes our fun SUPERimpose feature – allowing you to take photos that match historic archive photos – creating your own ‘Then & Now’ collection.

The education pack can be used on its own or to complement the Tring app.  The pack supports curriculum planning and activity suggestions are relevant to a range of learning outcomes in Key Stage 1 and 2.

Audio Trails were chosen for the project because … Read More »


40 years of digital tech

Posted on May 11th, by admin in Photography/Video, Tales and musings. No Comments

A look at 4 decades of home computing, mobile phones, digital cameras and even YouTube…

“Why anyone would ever want to look at photos on a TV screen?” That was what bewildered company executives told the Kodak engineer who first proposed the idea of a ‘filmless camera’ to them in 1975. This concept was of course the first digital camera.

Thirty years later, I received a similar response from my contemporaries when I proposed a new approach to audio guides. Taken by my enthusiasm I was left to pursue the idea and develop the first downloadable audio trails in the UK. Until that time audio guides were limited to indoor locations and listened to on hired handsets/wands: In 2005 you could count the number of ‘audio trail’ Google search results on one hand – today there are nearly 60 million!

Fast-moving tech

Having set … Read More »


Writing an App Specification

Posted on April 1st, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

So you have an idea for an app and you’d like to know how much it will cost to build it?

Well, sometimes this can be like asking how long is a piece of string. Either way, for you to know as much about your idea as possible, and ideally have a specification document to go along with it helps everyone.

A spec can sometimes be a difficult thing to put together, so see below for some of the most important things we would need to know before providing a quote.

Aims & Background

Knowing exactly what you hope your app will do is important. Does it solve a practical problem? Does it have a Unique Selling Point? Not only will listing your aims for the project help us understand your app, it will help you to consolidate your idea and inform the rest … Read More »


The Archbishop’s Palace Southwell Who’s Who

Posted on February 5th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

The Archbishop’s Palace at Southwell Minster is layered with over 1000 years of history. Events that took place here have formed the fabric of the nation and altered its course.

Audio Trails were commissioned to design an interactive multimedia tour that provides a fascinating ‘Who’s who’ of the people that shaped the history of Archbishop’s Palace. It was here that Cardinal Wolsey spent the final months of his life at the Palace, trying to clear his name after failing to annul the first marriage of Henry VIII. King Charles I was brought to the State Chamber to complete the ‘paperwork’ of his final imprisonment.

The State Chamber’s portraiture and artefacts are visual markers for the rich content contained within the beautiful iOS and Android apps.

Testimonial

“It has been a pleasure working with Audio Trails to create our very own app for the Archbishop’s Palace. … Read More »


Places and Trails native app platform

Posted on February 2nd, by admin in Digital Interpretation, Heritage apps. No Comments

Our Places and Trails native app platform for iOS & Android is the gold standard for location-responsive, interactive visitor guide apps. It uses GPS and iBeacons to determine the user’s location and display nearby places of interest on interactive mapping.

With rich content and optional plugins, our Places and Trails native app software has been specifically designed to encourage exploration of the countryside, heritage sites, museums and tourist attractions.

Native Apps are installed via the App Store or Google Play onto (and limited to) iOS and Android devices. Once downloaded they are fully operational, regardless of mobile network coverage, as they support offline mapping. Users are notified when they trigger a place even if the app isn’t on screen (backgrounded).

 

Our high quality and modular digital visitor guide apps have all the advantages of a bespoke package.

Places and Trails features a sliding navigation menu that allows users to switch from … Read More »


Listen – GPS Audio Tour Guide app

Posted on February 2nd, by admin in Digital Interpretation. No Comments

Listen to awesome location-aware audio tours

Listen is a hands- and screen-free audio storytelling experience.

Listen knows exactly where you are and serves up audio exactly when you need it.

Listen frees up listeners to become more aware of their surroundings and immerse themselves in the experience.

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway

Press play, put the screen away and just listen.

Listen is available for iOS and Android. It uses geo-location to track the device’s precise location. When the listener enters a trigger zone audio will play automatically. Using creative storytelling we can guide visitors along a trail highlighting points of interest as they appear to the listener – call it real-time surprise. For example, “See that bench just up on your left? Why not take a seat for a while and I’ll tell you a tale about the … Read More »


Education and Learning

Posted on January 1st, by admin in Education, Our services. No Comments

We develop, coordinate and deliver a range of learning programmes to motivate and inspire. If you are looking to create or update formal educational materials or enhance your informal learning provision we can help.

 

We specialise in:

Devising education packages and creating learning materials and resources

Curriculum development to complement and extend learning across all subjects

Content writing, story and character development

Evaluating, reviewing and testing existing education provision

Planning and delivering training and workshops

Take a look at some examples of our work.


Native or Web app?

Posted on December 21st, by admin in Uncategorized. No Comments

Ultimately it depends what you want the your app to do, but if you are ready this page then you are probably looking for a location aware solution. We’ve been developing GPS-triggered native apps since 2010.


Cadw Castles Education Pack

Posted on November 17th, by admin in Activities, Case Study, Education, Tales and musings. No Comments

“It has been a pleasure to work with Ruth from beginning to end of the project. Her background in both education and interpretation has made the whole process a lot smoother with the addition of a ‘teacher’s eye’ to suggest additions and amendments to ideas for the education resource. It may also be her background in teaching which has given her the patience of a saint(!) and an absolute joy to work with both professionally and personally. Feedback from teachers has been really positive and we are really proud to have this new resource.”

Erin Lloyd-Jones, Lifelong Learning Manager (North Wales)

Cadw are responsible for some of the most significant sites in the world, helping people understand and care about their place and history – and the place of Wales in the world.

The bilingual education pack is directly linked to STEM and … Read More »

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The art of interpreting emotions and challenging subjects

Posted on September 25th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Last month I went to France with my family and during the last week of our holiday we explored the Western Front – the scene of horrific and bloody frontline conflicts during World War 1.

Firstly we went to Verdun. The village of Fleury, or at least its pockmarked remains, were very poignant. During the war it was completely destroyed and the land was made uninhabitable to such an extent that a decision was made not to rebuild it. The area was so contaminated by corpses, explosives and poisonous gas that no farmer could work the land. Today only stones mark the location of each building and the occupation of its owner.

Having headed west to the Somme I was moved by the massive crater we found at La Boiselle (feature image courtesy of Georges Vandenbulke © 2011). A mine had been … Read More »


Caring for God’s Acre Education Pack

Posted on September 8th, by admin in Activities, Case Study, Education, Tales and musings. No Comments

Burial grounds and churchyards are wonderful places to learn.

The bilingual education pack we produced for Caring for God’s Acre contains a host of activities, ideas and inspiration for the exploration of burial grounds of all kinds. It is available in Welsh and English and includes detailed curriculum links to support planning in a range of subjects including science, art and design, English and history.

 High Praise

It has been great to work with such a thoughtful and professional person, able to run with our ideas and work flexibly to ensure that the pack both reflects the ethos of our charity but is also a useful resource, linked to both the English and Welsh curriculae.

Everyone within our organisation is delighted with the finished product and we have been receiving praise for it since it went live.

I would definitely wish to work with you … Read More »


Mitcham Cricket Green audio trail

Posted on September 8th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Mapping, oral history. No Comments

Explore the Conservation Area around the oldest cricket ground in the world!

Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage – a small civic society in south London –  successfully applied for HLF funding to undertake a number of heritage projects, including the creation of an audio trail.

The Conservation Area boasts an array of interesting buildings and some fascinating stories: it is the site of the oldest cricket ground in the world, the oldest railway line and the oldest fair.

When the group approached Audio Trails Tony Burton stressed they were keen to develop new skills, “We are a small and inexperienced group and part of the reason for seeking an HLF grant is to help build its strength and capabilities. We are keen, therefore, to use the process to provide training for volunteers and not just to buy an ‘off the shelf product’.”

Support

Audio … Read More »


Essex Living Landscape app

Posted on September 1st, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

Fancy a day out enjoying the peace of the south-east Essex countryside? Discover the wildlife, the scenery and the history of the Belfairs and Daws Heath Living Landscape.

Explore the ancient woodlands of Southend-on-Sea and Daws Heath through walking trails, spoken histories, places of interest and a field guide. With interesting information guiding you on your exploration of the countryside and interaction for children, the iOS and Android app will help you easily discover the wildlife on your doorstep.

Features:
– Offline map of the Belfairs and Daws Heath Living Landscape, featuring 8 fantastic ancient woodlands
– Fascinating information about the different places of interest
– Sensory Scrapbook game
– Easy-to-use Field Guide with interesting facts about the wildlife you will see
– Audio snippets from the people who live and work in the area
– GPS tracking will alert you when you are near a place or … Read More »


Interpretative planning & project management

Posted on August 1st, by admin in interpretive planning, Our services. No Comments

Working with heritage organisations to develop creative and practical ideas to supercharge the visitor experience.

What is interpretation?

Interpretation is a communication process, designed to reveal meanings and relationships of our cultural and natural heritage, to the public, through thought-provoking first-hand involvement with objects, artefacts, landscapes and sites. [adapted from Interpretation Canada]

Interpretation therefore translates the technical language of experts into the informal ‘everyday’ language of visitors. It has an authoritative air, but goes beyond just providing information; it is revelation based upon any statement of fact. For the communication to be interpretative, it must improve visitors understanding and enjoyment through provoking interest, relating to their experience and revealing something new. The same communication processes are used to create powerful adverts for tv, radio, print.

What is an interpretation plan?

An interpretive plan provides the strategy to ensure that your site’s messages are truly connecting with, and being understood, by … Read More »


Old Glossop Trail

Posted on July 3rd, by admin in Activities, Audio Trails, Case Study, Mapping, panels, website. No Comments

Visitors to Old Glossop, Derbyshire can now easily discover the important role the village played in the early cotton industry.

Audio Trails were commissioned to produce a responsive website, an audio trail, a family activity sheet, four interpretation panels and a further 15 location-specific mini-interpretation plaques, putting a wealth of information at people’s fingertips.

Visit the project website – www.oldglossoptrail.co.uk – to learn about this fantastic village and download the resources.

 “I was most pleased to be able to work with Dan, from the early stages of the project when he was researching the possibilities for topics and places to include and when he required all the Old Glossop images which I supplied to be used in the various digital and signboard displays, and later contacting the Duke of Norfolk for permission to use his family coat of arms and also finding voices … Read More »


Forest of Marston Vale panels

Posted on June 30th, by admin in Case Study, Mapping, panels. No Comments

Visitors to the Forest of Marston Vale can now easily orientate themselves and enjoy a wide range of walking, cycling and horse-riding trails. Audio Trails were commissioned to produce one super-sized outdoor panel and two further indoor panels for the Forest Centre, which stands at the heart of the site. Furthermore, Audio Trails also supplied a self-powered audio post and downloadable trail PDFs for 8 trails around the forest.

‘Working with Dan at Audio Trails was easy as his product knowledge and enthusiasm was second to none, as was the quality of work produced.’

Darren Woodward, Forest Development Officer, Marston Vale Trust

To download the trail PDFs visit marstonvale.org


Design and print

Posted on April 1st, by admin in Our services, panels. No Comments

We design and build bespoke on-site interpretative furniture to engage visitors. We excel at devising unique concepts and bringing them to life.

Take a look at some examples below and get in touch to discuss your project.

Exhibitions

 

We tailor each exhibition design to the requirements of the client. Read about our Steelos Gallery case study to learn why it was a permanent exhibition with a twist.

More info.

Interpretation Panels

 

We offer a range of timber and metal interpretation frames to suit all budgets. And we design and print panels in all shapes and sizes too.

Read more.

 

Nature Feely Boxes

 

Custom designed and built interactive ‘nature feely boxes’ provide a multi-sensory experience for children and adults alike. Read our Old Tree Nursery case study for a Gruffalo-inspired woodland trail for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. Read more.

 

Mapping

 

Mapping is a fundamental part of our business. We use them in … Read More »


Interactive heritage trails

Posted on February 3rd, by admin in Digital Interpretation, Our services. No Comments

An interactive heritage trail combines traditional interpretation panels with digital content.

Let’s give you an example. On behalf of the Canal & River Trust we produced interactive heritage trails along the Burnley Canal and the Montgomery Canal.

We designed and printed small interpretation plaques. Each one was attached to a 4 inch/100mm wide post (or similar) along the towpath at key points of interest. Each visually stimulating plaque contains a short piece of text and an image so that visitors walking along the canal can read this soundbite and enhance their knowledge.

Interactive call to action

The plaques also contain a call to action to ‘Go Digital’ and discover more. They do this with their phone/tablet by either scanning a QR code or typing in the short URL which takes them directly to a rich content webpage. Here, more text, images, plus audio, video, PDFs (activity packs are popular) etc can be accessed and … Read More »


Charles Darwin audio trails – Bromley

Explore five Charles Darwin-themed audio trails produced on behalf of Bromley Council. The audio guides explore the countryside Darwin called his ‘landscape laboratory’ and celebrate how Charles Darwin formulated his amazing theory of evolution in the Kent countryside – a theory that rocked the deeply religious Victorian world, and even Darwin himself!

Each Charles Darwin-themed audio trail is accompanied by a downloadable map and a family activity sheet to help everyone delve into the world of Charles Darwin, and discover how he got to grips with ‘the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’.

Downe audio trail

Charles Darwin found school boring, thought his university years were a waste of time, and felt sick at the sight of blood! So how did he get to become one of the world’s greatest scientists? Find out as you follow this amazing audio trail … Read More »


Burnley Canal Trail

Posted on September 18th, by admin in Activities, Case Study, Education, QR/NFC, Tales and musings, website. No Comments

The Canal & River Trust were impressed with the Montgomery Canal Smartphone Trail project we delivered and commissioned us to create a similar one that helps to communicate the heritage of the Burnley canal in a lively and accessible way to visitors.

Working with Audio Trails has been a great experience. Both Dan and Ruth have listened really carefully to us about the type of trail we want to create and who our target audience are. They’ve created for us a bespoke product that is interactive, informative and fun.

Emma Bartlet – Canal Communities Officer, Canal & River Trust.

The 6 kilometre section of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal through Burnley benefits from a strong 3G mobile signal. The use of small interpretation plaques with links to online digital content has enabled visitors to understand the rich heritage of the canal. Each plaque … Read More »


It is better to have loved and lost…

Posted on September 12th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Kids love nature. Grown ups do to.

The thing with wildlife is that you never know when you are going to get that close encounter. When it happens it is usually memorable; very memorable.

Last month we spent two weeks in North Norfolk. The highlight of my youngest son’s holiday? Half an hour spent with a grasshopper. For those 30 minutes it crawled over his hands, arms and t-shirt. A bond was made; a strong one.

When the grasshopper finally took his leave the loss was strongly felt, but that close encounter with ‘Freddie’ will live long in his memory; longer than the expensive trip to a local theme park!

Our aim has always been to recreate that same ‘animal’ magic with our own interpretation projects.


Audio Trails win Creative Innovation award

Posted on November 16th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

Last night Audio Trails won the inaugural Creative Innovation award at the fourth Derbyshire Times Business Awards. The glittering ceremony was held at Chesterfield FC’s Proact Stadium and hosted by Derbyshire Times Editor James Mitchinson, Destination Chesterfield’s Peter Swallow and Tom Ingall of BBC Look North.

A total of sixteen awards were presented during the evening and Dan Boys, Creative Director at Audio Trails went on stage to collect the Creative Innovation award, sponsored by Creative Derbyshire. “We are absolutely delighted to be the first winners of this particular award. We were up against some formidable opponents on the shortlist and it is a real honour to be acknowledged in this way. It rounds off a great year for us.”

Mr Mitchinson added: “It’s fantastic to have everyone from our proud business community come together to celebrate their achievements in 2012. All … Read More »

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Cornish Mining World Heritage Audio Trails

Posted on October 12th, by admin in Activities, Audio Trails, Case Study. 1 Comment

A series of audio trails that reveal the rich past of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

Looking for fresh air, striking scenery during your time in Cornwall? Then delve into its mining past with a series of free Cornish Mining World Heritage Site audio trails. Narrated by miners, historic experts and actors, listeners are transported back to a landscape that told a very different story. The audio trails offer a unique window into the days of the mining boom in Cornwall.

At Poldice you can explore what was once the richest square mile in the world. Tread carefully as you explore the explosive past of the Wildlife Trust’s Kennall Vale reserve. Learn about the oldest china clay port in the world as you wander around the harbour with its impressive tall ships. And engine houses, chimney stacks, tunnels and adits await your … Read More »


Tourist apps for heritage sites and museums

Posted on October 1st, by admin in Heritage apps. No Comments

Visitors to heritage sites, towns or cities want to make the most of every minute of their visit. Tourist apps, powered by our ‘Welcome to’ software, bring places to life with powerful text, evocative audio and beautiful imagery.

Tourist apps for Heritage sites and visitor attractions

Our tourist apps use GPS to automatically trigger points of interest – presenting a wealth of useful information at visitor’s fingertips. Users can also easily browse content from the map or via the menu, using filters or the search function.

One potential banana skin for tourist apps is the cost incurred by foreign visitors having to pay high charges for accessing the internet when abroad. We embed our tourist apps with rich content so the user experience is not reliant on downloading data on site. This is further enhanced with offline mapping which blends seamlessly with the … Read More »


White Horse Hill audio trail

Posted on September 25th, by admin in Audio Trails. No Comments

Written and produced in 2006, this audio trail is still as relevant and evocative today as it was then.

“The tracks have stood the test of time and certainly include facts that I wasn’t aware of myself, what with being relatively new to post.”

Robert Sharman, the National Trust Warden – August 2012

No-one really knows how or why the 3,000 year old figure of the White Horse came to be, yet during this audio trail National Trust staff reveal what evidence they have uncovered to understand its origin. They also reveal many other myths and legends that engulf this site in mystery and intrigue.

If you live in, or are visiting, Oxfordshire or Berkshire you cannot miss a visit to the Vale of the White Horse to take in Uffington Castle, King Alfred’s Thorn and the Tom Brown School Museum.

Listen

Visit nationaltrust.org.uk to follow the … Read More »


School Audio Trails and tapping into untapped creativity

Posted on September 17th, by admin in Audio Trails, Tales and musings. No Comments

Creating school audio trails is a fun way of engaging children with nature.

When producing audio trails with school children you never know what the outcomes will be. You are surrounded by many creative minds, each with their own unique interpretation of the world around them and always with many questions.

School audio trails

We are working with three schools in Staffordshire. Each school has been ‘twinned’ with their local country park or nature reserve. My job is to create an audio trail with each group over four sessions.  The school groups never failed to amaze me with the amount of information they could recall when we returned to the classroom – the good stuff too.

However, the most satisfying part of these projects is the pupil’s creativity. With some guidance their untapped imagination can bring even the most testing points of interest to … Read More »

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Derbyshire Hidden Gems

Posted on September 10th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study. No Comments

Protestors who changed the national landscape, wartime tragedies and icons of the industrial age – these are just some of the stories revealing our cultural heritage as part of the Hidden Gems project. In total we produced 18 audio guides in our own corner of Derbyshire, on behalf of North East Derbyshire District Council.

“We have been very impressed with the way our audio trails ‘Hidden Gems’ project has been delivered – on time and on budget – by Dan Boys at Audio Trails.
This has been an extremely complex project involving production of more than a dozen audio trails. This has meant involved Dan liaising with multiple partner organisations and members of the public to develop trail scripts, maps and interesting audio content.
The result has been an excellent series of fascinating trails that explain the history, heritage, flora and fauna of our … Read More »


Green Chain audio trails – London walking trails

Posted on September 10th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Mapping. No Comments

A new series of London walking trails have been launched along South East London’s Green Chain – a 40-mile network of footpaths running through parkland and woodland.

Your very own tour guides

Parmjit, a Green Chain Walks Leader, and Gerald, a local expert, are ready to take you on three fascinating walks to explore some of the greener parts of South East London. Parmjit and Gerald are fictional characters devised solely for this project to create the feel of a real guided walk.

The audio trails were devised with help from a number of local community groups whose expertise and passion inspired the flavour of the scripts.

We were also commissioned to produce downloadable PDF watercolour maps to help guide visitors along each route.

“The Green Chain partnership have worked with Audio Trails on 3 audio trails to promote the Green Chain Walk in South … Read More »


Having a long-lasting influence

Posted on September 7th, by admin in Tales and musings. No Comments

I think we all wonder what and who had the biggest influence on our careers, and life in general. What made us who we are, and what experiences will shape us in the future? The question raised itself for me again when my Grandad recently died, at the ripe old age of 92. We shared a great deal of time together and I like to think I have moulded myself on his morals. My abiding memory, apart from his big, wrinkly dry fingers, were our walks together on the South Downs. He was nothing more than an amateur botanist, but in my eyes he was a walking nature encyclopedia. There is no doubt our time spent together sent me on a path towards conservation management.

Yet my Grandad wasn’t the only elderly gentleman who had a lasting effect on me from … Read More »


Get naked below the knees on a bare foot trail

Posted on August 17th, by admin in Uncategorized. No Comments

During our family holiday this year we inevitably took the opportunity to visit a number of heritage sites. These ranged from archaeological sites to a fantastic Chateau in Larochette, Luxembourg, all the while absorbing the creative interpretation ideas. However, what grabbed all of us the most was such a simple concept.

We stayed at a wonderful campsite which had a bare foot trail. As the name suggests you need to shed your shoes and feel the earth beneath your feet as you make your way through a forest. At various points there is a ‘station’ – the equivalent of a raised vegetable bed filled with various organic materials – intended to reconnect you with nature. The trails begins with a tentative squelch through wet mud. This is followed by further stations containing logs, pine cones, sawdust, leaves, mulch, pebbles, sand, stones … Read More »


8000+ Yorkshire Dales iPhone app downloads in 2 weeks

Posted on July 17th, by admin in Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

In 2011 we developed the ‘Official Yorkshire Dales National Park‘ app for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Symbian. In its first week the iPhone app alone was downloaded 1448 times.

On the back of that success the National Park Authority asked us to upgrade the iPhone and Android apps to include twice as many walking routes, cycling routes and places to visit. Nearly 8300 people downloaded the new iPhone update in the first fortnight of its release!

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has released a free iPhone app aimed at maxing out your enjoyment of the area and including a load of stuff including a selection of walks and cycling routes.

Click on the places of interest and a whole list of local attractions comes up, complete with text information and an image. If you want to know even more, there’s generally a link … Read More »


Long in the Blue-tooth – not just yet

Posted on July 16th, by admin in Bluetooth, Tales and musings. No Comments

Recent stats from a 2-year old project illustrate that Bluetooth interpretation still has a place, and reminds us to think carefully about how we cater for our visitors.

In 2010 we successfully applied for European Funding to develop a heritage trail around Clay Cross in Derbyshire. The outputs were an audio trail, iPhone app (the first on our ‘Welcome to’ software), a QR code trail and the installation of a Bluetooth and Wifi hub. Our aim was to offer a variety of media to appeal to a wide range of visitors.

We were keen to assess the effectiveness of Bluetooth hubs, as in theory they had the potential to offer visitors a simple way of accessing free content on their mobile phone when they arrive on site. Bear in mind this project was derived before mobile internet had really established itself. Bluetooth … Read More »


Montgomery Canal smartphone trail

Posted on July 14th, by admin in Activities, Case Study, QR/NFC, website. No Comments

The Montgomery Canal brings wildlife right into the centre of Welshpool. We devised a smartphone trail on behalf of the Canal & River Trust (formerly British Waterways) to help the whole family make the most of this exciting waterway.

Ten waymark discs, printed with QR codes and embedded with NFC chips (the same technology used for contactless payment), can be found along the 1 mile stretch of canal. Each waymark links to a mobile optimised webpage with fascinating information, images and audio.

The downloadable PDF activity sheet ensures children are also kept entertained.

canalrivertrust.org.uk/montgomery-canal-trail

“Audio Trails worked  on our trail, with short timescales imposed by funders. They rose to the challenge and provided more in the way of material than we initially asked for – seeing there was an opportunity to offer an illustrated children’s trail too. The project was handled well and to … Read More »


Heritage Trails – Rhondda Cynon Taf

Posted on July 3rd, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Heritage apps. No Comments

Heritage trails upgrade

Rhondda Cynon Taf Borough Council commissioned us to expand their Heritage Trails website. We were asked to transform three paper-based heritage trails into English and Welsh audio guides and create two new trails from scratch. We interviewed members of all the local communities and used short oral reminiscence sound bites to bring the story of four heritage trails to life. Further soundbites were compiled into an audio database for all the blue plaques in the borough.

A ghostly guide

We undertook a different approach for the Hirwaun heritage trail. Here, a fictional ghostly guide was created to reveal how this quiet village has changed since the huge ironworks was closed down. Illustrative PDF maps were created for each trail.

Heritage Trails app

All five audio trails, plus the blue plaque sites were embedded into a bilingual heritage trails app that is available to … Read More »


South Pennine’s audio trail and podscroll

Posted on March 18th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study, Podscroll. No Comments

Pennine Prospects initially commissioned us to undertake a series of oral history recordings for a ‘Watershed Landscape Lives’ DVD, which captured the passion of those who visit, enjoy or make their livelihood from the South Pennines.

Since then we have also produced:

– The Piethorne Reservoir Audio Trail is a story of people and water. More specifically: increasing numbers of people craving increasing amounts of water. This is also a story of dramatic change.

– The Reservoir Spotters Guide Podscroll helps you explore the South Pennine reservoir landscape and identify architectural features and some of the varied wildlife you might see whilst walking near an upland reservoir.

– The Sheddon Clough Podscroll will help you explore the unusual limestone hushings at Sheddon Clough on foot.

A podscroll is simply a digital booklet that can be downloaded onto your smartphone/iPod etc and viewed when you want … Read More »


Coed y Brenin audio trails

Posted on February 19th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study. No Comments

Since the 1990s, Coed Y Brenin has become a mecca for mountain bikers from across the country and beyond. But these are not the only ‘cycles’ to be found within the forest.

Join the ‘Birdman’ Iolo Williams – one of Wales’ most renowned nature and wildlife presenters – as he unveils the life cycles and strange habits of some of the Kings Forests more intriguing inhabitants, in the Afon Eden Trail.

If industrial archaeology is your thing then there is plenty here for you too. Take a visit to the Glasdir Copper Mine or search for gold at Tyddyn Gwladus. Do you like tall trees? Then make your way to Ty’n Y Groes and take a tour with Forester Aled Thomas and hear about some rather crazy foresters.

The four fascinating bilingual audio guides, produced by Audio Trails, can be downloaded from the … Read More »


Nevern Castle

Posted on February 17th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study. No Comments

The short and colourful life of Nevern Castle, in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, has been brought to life in a new MP3 audio trail for visitors.

During the 12th century, Nevern Castle stuck out like a sore thumb, proudly stamping its authority on the Pembrokeshire landscape.

Today, you’d be forgiven for walking straight past it. The stone and timber defences are nearly all gone, yet entombed in the earth are treasures: fragments of pottery and other artefacts that provide a window into castle life in the 1100s.

The audio trail, produced by Audio Trails on behalf of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, features locals, schoolchildren and archaeologists. It provides a guided tour of the remains of one of the earliest Welsh stone castles, built in part by the great Welsh lord, Rhys ap Gruffydd.

Using a map and an MP3 player, visitors … Read More »


Welcome to Clay Cross

Posted on January 16th, by admin in Audio Trails, Bluetooth, Case Study, Heritage apps, QR/NFC. No Comments

‘Welcome to Clay Cross’ brings the past to life.

As part of the regeneration scheme in Clay Cross we were commissioned to produce an audio trail that reveals the fascinating story of the town, told by local residents. We also worked with sculptor Peter Maris to interpret his sculptures depicting the history of the town.

The Clay Cross Audio Trail

Over-sized pepper pots and soap wrappers have played their part in shaping Clay Cross. This audio trail tells that story through 16 local residents who have seen their fair share of change over the years. During this 2 mile trail you will visit the town’s three former picture houses, the colliery rows and the rock from which the town takes its name, plus much more.

Some of the interviews were recorded as part of this project in 2010 and others date to the last century when … Read More »


Darwin and the Dinosaurs audio trail (Crystal Palace)

Posted on January 14th, by admin in Audio Trails, Case Study. 6 comments

The Darwin and the Dinosaurs audio trail takes you back to a time well before mobile phones.

The year is 1852. The Crystal Palace Company moves to Penge and commissions leading scientist of the day, Richard Owen to create the life size model dinosaurs for the park, with the aid of artist Benjamin Hawkins.

Join them during this audio trail as they bring the world’s first theme park to life, in what we now know as Crystal Palace Park.

Audio Trail files

01 The first theme park

02 Megaloceros

03 A giant ground sloth

04 Mosasaurus

05 If only they had known about T.Rex

06 Paxtons Bridge

07 Iguanadon dinner party

08 Old crocs

09 The beginning of time

10 A Hylaeosaurus eye view

Darwin_and_the_Dinosaurs_PDF map

“Audio Trails have brought Charles Darwin and … Read More »