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Virtual Tours of the Gaywood Valley

Researchers in ENV have created virtual tours of the Gaywood Valley using Google Earth as part of a project funded by the EU, Norfolk County Council and the Borough Council of King’s Lynn to help local people make more use of the natural environment of the area.

Dr Amii Darnell, Professor Andrew Lovett and Dr Jenni Turner have created three ‘virtual tours’ that can be viewed in the free Google Earth software and which provide an introduction to the key environmental features of the Gaywood Valley east of King’s Lynn in Norfolk. The tours have been created as part of the Sustainable Urban Fringes (SURF) initiative which brings together partners from five European countries in a number of projects to enhance the value of nearby rural areas for urban communities ( In the case of King’s Lynn one objective was to encourage local people to explore the valley and find out more about its history and wildlife.  The virtual tours have been produced to provide background information in an easily accessible form and to highlight sites that can be visited. Teaching materials are also being developed so that the tours can be used in local schools.The tours were constructed as sets of text, photos and map information that can be opened in Google Earth, provide instructions to guide the viewer to different landscape features and then display additional information about them (including links to websites). Each tour has a different theme, the first supplying a general introduction to the area, the second focusing on geology and past climates, and the third including details of possible walks and sites to visit. Some example screenshots from the tours are shown below.

Zipped files containing the tours are available to download below. In order to view them a PC with an Internet connection and a copy of Google Earth (Version 5, 6 or 7) is necessary. The next stage of the project will include evaluating the use of the tours so if you have any comments please send these to Professor Andrew Lovett (

Instructions for Use 

These tours have been tested to work on a PC using a Windows OS. Performance on a MAC or Linux machine is unknown.There are two sets of files available for download below. They contain the same content in terms of the three tours but have been set up to work with Version 5 (older) or Version 6 or 7 (current) of Google Earth.

  • If you do not have Google Earth (GE), download the current version from (at the moment this is GE7.0) and use the GE6/7 files.
  • If you have GE 6 or 7 use the GE 6/7 files
  • If you have an older version of GE, or are unsure of the GE version, use the GE 5 files.
  • You can query the version of GE you are using by running the program, selecting 'Help' and 'About Google Earth'.  The first digit represents the version of GE.

Some users have experienced problems downloading these files using Internet Explorer 8. If you have difficulties following the steps below, please Email

Google Earth Version 6/7 Files


Google Earth Version 5 Files


Viewing the Tours

To ensure the best viewing experience, please save these files to your computer hard drive or run from a USB stick. Some of the features (e.g. images in the placemark balloons) may not perform optimally if run from the desktop of a networked machine (e.g. at work or at school). The *.zip files are compressed archives of the files needed for Google Earth. The easiest way to view the tours is to first manually change the extension of each archive from *.zip to *.kmz and then double click the file. This should automatically start the tour in Google Earth. If you wish, the *.zip files can be uncompressed and the components viewed. These include *.kml files, images and Google Sketchup *.dae models. To see the contents of individual *.kml files open them in Notepad. The tours have been developed to require some interaction. Each tour will pause for users to read placemarks and interact with Google Earth. Users are free to navigate around and the tour will always return to its last active position. If the tour fails to move forwards after a pause, the user may need to hit 'play' twice. On older versions of Google Earth (e.g. GE 5) placemark balloons are open for a set time period only. The main placemark balloons have been set to appear for 15 seconds. If placemark balloons disappear too quickly, click on the placemark arrows. If placemark balloons do not disappear when the tour moves forward, they can be closed by clicking 'x' in the top-right corner.