Note - Some versions of Google Earth and the Google Earth plugin may cause problems with the terrain in the virtual tours on this site (the 7.0 beta for example). Installing the latest version of Google Earth or the plugin should fix these issues.

Using This Site

GreatTrails is really just a regular website with the exception of the use of the Google Earth Plugin to display the trails in 3D. Thus this page will concentrate on the use of the plugin to get the best out of the tours.

First of all you will need to have the Google Earth Plugin installed, for instructions on how to do this please go to The Downloads Section. Once you have the plugin installed and you click on one of the 3D tours you should see something similar to the image below.

Description of 3D Tour Window

The tour should start to play automatically (if it doesn't you may need to move you mouse pointer into the window) and no user intervention is required to view the tour. The tour gives a detailed and progressive description of the trail moving to each placemark in turn and displaying an information baloon. The tour will take over 30 mins to complete at normal speed.

You can speed up the tour by clicking on the double arrow button next to the Tour Play Control, each click doubes the speed.

Depending on the internet connection speed, the first time the tour is viewed there may be some lag in loading the images. This can be overcome by allowing the tour to play through once which will cache the images and then the lag should be removed in subsequent plays. Alternatively you can pause the tour after each balloon appears, to allow the image time to load, and the resume the tour when the image has loaded.

Using the tools and controls shown above it is possible to interrupt the tour and explore interactively. A brief description of the Tools and Controls is given below. Please note that these controls will fade out whilst the tour is playing but will return as soon as the mouse pointer is moved int he window.

Tour Play Control - This allows you to pause the tour using the play/pause button. The buttons to the left and right of the play/pause button allow the speed of playback to be varied in both the forward and reverse directions. The slider bar allows rapid interactive navigation to any point in the tour.

Orientation Tool - This controls the 3D orientation of the view. The up and down arrows control movement from between the horizontal and vertical plane. The left and right arrows control view direction. (Note:- Pressing the "n" key on the keyboard will automatically return to a North up view). The same operation can be achieved by golding down the Ctrl key and the left mouse button and dragging the mouse pointer in the Tour Window.

Pan Tool - This allows panning of the current view. The up and down arrows move control forward and back movement and the left and right arrows movement in the respective directions. The same operation can be achived by holding the left mouse button and dragging mouse pointed in the Tour Window.

Zoom Tool - This simply allows zooming of the current view, plus zooms in and minus out. The zoom leve can also be set using the slider. Please note that as the zoom leve, or view height, approached the ground the orientation will automatically change to the horizontal. Also as the view is zoomed out the orientation will return to the vertical. On a three button mouse with a scroll wheel the scroll wheel controls the zoom, in this case the zoom is more conventional and the view orientation will stay constant.

The tour is comprised of a series of numbered placemarks. Each placemark contains information about the trail at that position. The tour will navigate to each placemark in turn and display the associated information baloon. However it is possible to interupt the tour as described above, navigate to a particular position, and display the information baloon by left clicking on the placemark.


Numbered placemarks

With the tour paused left click on placemark to display information baloon