Trekkers assured of help come rain or shine

When walking 100km non-stop across the rugged terrain of the Yorkshire Dales, you need all the help you can get.

Now, for the first time, participants in this year’s Trailtrekker challenge will be able to find out what the weather is likely to be like along the route, thanks to one amateur meteorologist.

John Livesley, who runs the website www.mylocalweather.org.uk, has been providing highly accurate weather forecasts for the past few years from his home, finding a popular audience with everyone from local farmers, to leisure operators to the Yorkshire Dales National Park authority.

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Now, Mr Livesley’s site is available on smartphones, allowing users to look at his weather forecasts from wherever they are via their mobile phone.

Established with just a handful of stations, his network is now so widespread that it covers much of the Yorkshire Dales and beyond.

And as such the site will cover the entire route of this May’s forthcoming Trailtrekker event.

The 100km day and night charity walk through the Dales, starting and finishing in Skipton, is now in its fourth year and being held with the support of the Yorkshire Post.

The route will take them through Malham, Ribblesdale, the Pennine Way, Buckden, Wharfedale, Conistone, Hetton and finally back to their starting point, all of which will be covered by My Local Weather.

Mr Livesley told the Yorkshire Post that the experience could be made slightly easier for those brave participants by knowing what conditions lie ahead, particularly given the fast-changing nature of the Yorkshire Dales’s weather.

He said: “It will be a great opportunity for anyone taking part to find out what is happening further down the dale and down the trail, especially on the tougher parts of the route.

“Anyone who knows the Dales will be aware that the weather can vary massively from area to area.

“That’s part of the reason that people rely on the website so much.

“It won’t be just rain they will worry about. The app will give information on UV levels too, so they know how sunny it is likely to be.”

On previous walks Trailtrekker participants have endured all kinds of weather, from blazing sunshine to heavy rain showers.

Arguably the most challenging section of the event comes when the walkers have to keep trekking through the night with only their head torch to guide their way.

No matter how warm it has been during the day the temperature will invariably drop when the sun goes down, meaning walkers will need to dress accordingly.

Mr Livesley runs the site from his home at Menston near Leeds but has weather stations set up at Wensleydale, Swaledale, Upper Wharfedale, Lower Wharfedale, Malham, Settle, Ribblehead and Dalby Forest.

The information from these stations is then relayed to his home computer to produce the forecasts.

And although he is technically classed as an amateur, his operation is anything but.

The weather stations utilise highly sophisticated equipment and software in the production of his website’s forecasts.

The website produces an updated weather forecast every 10 seconds.

On a good day it can attract an audience of thousands and has won the support of people and organisations across the region.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park links to the site from its own website, with various community and leisure groups around the region also actively linking to his website.

Run on a not-for-profit basis by Mr Livesley, who is retired, his forecasts are designed to be viewed in combination with the national picture from the Met Office.

“I now have eight weather stations, covering each of the eight main Yorkshire Dales,” he said.

“On a year-by-year basis we are probably adding an additional 50 per cent more visitors per year, it is just going up and up.

“It can be slow and laborious in terms of keeping it going. But is still has one of the best weather forecasts available for the Yorkshire Dales.”

Despite all the hard work and investment however, the site remains very much a labour of love for Mr Livesley – who has held a lifelong enthusiasm for weather forecasting since his childhood.

“It is just something that I have grown up with, ” he told the Yorkshire Post. “I have always had a fascination with the weather.”

He has now been branching out into the world of smartphones and says that he has already had a great response from cyclists who use the Dalby Forest predictor for planning out rides across the forest’s challenging trails.

“The app is looking fabulous, something I am really pleased with. It has proved very useful.”

The www.mylocalweather.org.uk website also brings together fellow amateur weather forecasters from around the region under one umbrella, providing links to other similar websites around the country.