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Creating a route using Google Maps

The first step is to open your web browser and go to www.google.co.uk.   Once the site has opened click on the ‘Maps’ link (see Route Creation One).

On the next screen click on ‘Get Directions.

Type in your starting location in box A and your destination location in box B (see Route Creation Two).  The more precise you can be the less fiddling you will have later [you can even put in grid references].  Now click the Get Directions button.  A suggested route will appear within a couple of seconds, depending on the speed of your computer. 

You can now Click on the ‘show options’ link near the ‘Get Directions’ button.  Here you can select whether your route is shown in miles or kilometres and you can choose to avoid highways.  The latter can be very useful if you do not want to cycle on any major roads. 

In the example diagrams below, Route Creation Two shows a route from Plymouth to Ivybridge NOT avoiding highways (and in miles) whereas Route Creation Three depicts the suggested route avoiding highways (and in km).

You may be offered more than one suggested route.  (In Route Creation Two above there are two suggested routes.  Suggested route 2. is highlighted and shown on the map and the directions relate to that route.  In the Route Creation Three example there are three suggested routes.)  If you hover your mouse cursor over a different suggested route the map will automatically change.  Select the route that most closely meets your requirements by clicking on it.  The written directions will now change to match the route on the map.

You can now set about amending your route.  The first thing to do is check that the start and finish locations are correct.  To do this point your mouse cursor just below the ‘A’ flag and double left click.  This should zoom you in on the map with the flag in the centre.  You may need to repeat this process a couple of times to get sufficient detail.  Alternatively you can use the roller on your mouse to zoom in and out.  It will centre wherever you point your cursor.

If the start flag is not quite in the right place then drag and drop it to the actual start.  To do this, point your mouse cursor at the flag and click and hold down the left mouse button.  Whilst holding the button down, move the flag around the screen using your mouse.  A cross should appear under the flag to help guide you.  When the cross is in the right place on the map release the mouse button and the flag will bump down to create the new start.

Zoom out on the map using the mouse roller or the zoom scroll bar on the screen until you can see the finish ‘B’ flag.  Now repeat the above process to adjust the finish position.

You should now have a route with the correct start and finish points and a close match to your preferred route between them.  It is likely that you will want to make some adjustments to the route though.  With a bit of practice this is very easy.

If you hover your mouse cursor over the route line you will note that a small white circle appears with the words ‘Drag to change route’ (see Route Creation Two above).  If you grab the circle (by left clicking and holding the button down) you can drag it around the map.  If you hover the circle at any point on the map, after a couple of seconds you will see that the route line changes to show you what the route would look like if you were to drop the circle there.  (Essential you are telling Google Maps that the route MUST go to the point where the white circle is.)  Drag the circle around until you are happy with the route then release the mouse button to drop the circle.  It may be that you will have to repeat this process several times at different points along the route in order to get your ideal route.

Please note that there is a limit to the number of drag points you can use on any single route.  At the time of typing this it is 15.  Therefore, if you have a long route or it is particularly complex you may have to break it into parts and save each one separately.

Once you are happy with the route shown on the map you will need to copy the written directions.  To do this click (and hold down) your left mouse button at the top of the directions and then pull the mouse down (still holding the mouse button down) until all the directions are highlighted (see diagram 1).  Then release the left mouse button and point the cursor somewhere in the highlighted area.  Now click the right mouse button and select ‘copy’ from the drop down menu. 

Having taken a copy of the directions you need to paste them somewhere.  Personally I use MS Word.  Simply open a blank document, click the right hand mouse button whilst the cursor is somewhere in the document and select paste from the drop down menu.

Now save this document to a convenient location on your computer or a data stick (in a folder called ‘cycle routes’ or ‘end to end route’ or similar).  Remember to call the file something you can easily recognise, e.g. ‘end to end directions – Day 1’.  Once saved, you can return to the document at any time to make amendments (if required) and to print.

Now you have saved a copy of the written direction you can return to Google maps to save the route map.  To do this click on ‘Save to My Maps’ below the directions (see Route Creation Four).  Click on the arrow (see Route Creation Five), select ‘create a new map’ from the dropdown list and then click ‘save’. 

Once the route has been created click on the edit button and amend the title to something meaningful, e.g. ‘end to end - Day 1’ (see Route Creation Six).  Then click on the link for Directions to [placename].  A dialogue box with the route directions will appear.  Edit the title to be the same as you map title.  If you do not do this and later convert the map to a gpx file for your gps unit (see below) it will be called something useless like ‘line 1’.  You will not be able to amend this once the gpx is created and you could end up with several routes loaded onto your gps with the same (meaningless) name.

You may note that the directions no longer have any information about the distance between points.  If this information is present it may be greyed out and will not copy or print.  There doesn’t seem to be an answer as top why this information is lost when a route is saved to My Maps.  This is why it is important to copy your written directions and save them somewhere BEFORE saving the route to My Maps.

You can make your map public or private by clicking the relevant radial button.

Once you have amended your route click the done button and your Google My Map will be created.

You should now have a Google My Map and a set of amendable written directions (with distances) saved.
If you would like to transfer your route to a GPS device click the link:
How to get a route from Google My Maps to a GPS Device.

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