Norfolk

The Broads 'duck's-eye view' published online

Screenshot of the Broadview website Image copyright Joe Rutland/Google
Image caption It has taken more than three months to create the first set of panoramic images

Miles of the Broads waterways are now available to explore online thanks to a pedal powered "duck's-eye view" of the nationally protected wetland.

Created by engineer Joe Rutland, 27, from Norwich, the images are captured using a bespoke panoramic camera mounted in a canoe-style pedal boat.

Mr Rutland, a pedal boat designer, said he developed Broadsview to "benefit tourism" in Norfolk and north Suffolk.

The website currently features 60 miles of the Broads' navigable waterways.

It has been funded by the Broads Authority, which coined the duck's-eye view description.

Mr Rutland started photographing images for the project in March with the help of "numerous volunteers".

Image copyright Joe Rutland
Image caption Broadsview, based on Google's Streetview, currently highlights 60 miles (97km) of the Broads' 120 miles (194km) of navigable waterways
Image copyright Joe Rutland
Image caption "I enjoyed rowing but designed the pedal boats as I wanted a way of getting out on the water that was less strenuous and could be done with other people," said Joe Rutland

"This project will give potential visitors the power to explore and plan their journey before they even leave their house," said Mr Rutland.

"It aims to increase use of the Broads as a source of enjoyment and exercise.

"So far, we've mapped half of all the navigable waterways."

Image copyright Joe Rutland
Image caption The images are captured along with GPS data and then "stitched together" to create the panoramas

The Broads, a national park in Norfolk and Suffolk, attracts more than seven million visitors each year. Home to than 10,000 species, it is recognised globally as an important area for biodiversity.

The panoramic images are captured using four cameras, mounted at 90-degree angles on a specially-designed tripod system that sits in the centre of a pedal-powered canoe.

"You have to be careful to pedal down the middle of the river and keep the boat very balanced, otherwise the picture would be all wonky," said Mr Rutland.

"We go out on the river at a quiet time of day as any faces we photograph have to be blurred out. So far, I've blurred around 10,000 faces.

"I plan to add about another 10 miles of images to the map about once a month now it's live."

Adrian Clarke, from the Broads Authority, said: "Joe has done a really amazing job of promoting the Broads in this way and helping people appreciate its unique and beautiful qualities.

"We're proud to support his work and can't wait to see the finished project."

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Media captionJoe Rutland has created a virtual guide to The Broads

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