Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I can spend a lot of time "flying low" over the West Highlands and Islands in Google Earth seeking out abandoned crofts and lazy-beds and stuff like that and it's always a bit of a frustration when you get to the end of the high resolution photography.

But in the last few days, Bing Maps - Microsoft's answer to Google Maps - seems to have plugged this gap with a lot of new high res coverage not available on Google. Select "Aerial" and zoom close in - you can't get an overview of where there is high res on Bing (because it's not universal) like you can on GE but there are areas where it seems like Bing takes over from where GE left off.

For example, GE does the south of Raasay well and Bing does the north and Rona. GE also does most of Coll but not Tiree whereas Bing does vice versa. Alas, neither does Oban yet (which is verging on criminal in my book). Anyway, here's Breacachadh Castle on Coll casting long shadows courtesy of Bing never before seen on GE as a taster:-

And here's a picture of the castle courtesy of my friend Doogie Greer:-

A minor niggle about Bing is you don't seem to be able to switch off the road map overlay over the aerial photos as you can in GE (which I found frustrating in Scarinish) but I'll let them off with that (for now).


  1. Neil I suggest you take a look at http://www.multimap.com. This UK company blazed the trail of on-line mapping and aerial photograph. They are so good at what they do that Microsoft bought the company. Multimap feeds the Bing mapping engine so you get the same aerial photography plus you can flip across to Ordnance Survey mapping down to 1:25k (only recently added to Bing but available on Multimap for five years plus). There are other nice touches as well, including being able to turn off the map overlay on aerial photographs! Actually you can do this in Bing as well. Click on the "Aerial" menu item and uncheck "See labels".

    I've never understood why, compared to the UK, it has taken so long to get high-res imagery of Scotland on-line. It is not a technical issue or one of a lack of coverage as it has been available for years from GetMapping, the folk who perform the aerial surveys. The reasons are presumable commercial. Is Scottish air somehow better and attracts a premium when compared to the rest of the UK? :-)

  2. I knew someone out there would know how you switch off the road overlay! Thanks Roy.

    I was aware that Multimap had some high res aerial coverage GE didn't but I'd rather forgotten about MM because their OS 50k and 25k is a bit "low res" and not totally "grid north up" as it is on Streetmap.co.uk (q.v.)

    So when I'm out for a virtual helicopter flight (in Jura this afternoon, as it happens), I keep Streetmap open at 25k in a separate window (and the OS historical 6 inch - and/or 25 inch where available - open in a third window).

    There just aren't enough hours in the day!