What's Slow Ways?
Slow Ways is an initiative to create a national network of walking routes connecting all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages.
Using existing paths, ways, trails and roads, people can use Slow Ways routes to walk or wheel between neighbouring settlements, and combine them to create longer distance trips. It’s designed to make it easier for people to imagine, plan and go on walking journeys.
There are currently over 8,000 Slow Ways stretching for over 120,000km. This network of routes was created by 700 volunteers during the Spring 2020 lockdown, creating a unique Slow Ways map in the process.
The current challenge is to walk, review and verify them all – checking 120,000km of Slow Ways in the process.
Slow Ways aims to inspire and support more people to walk more often, further and for more purposes.
While there are thousands of miles of paths linking places across Great Britain, there isn't a comprehensive and trusted network designed to help people walk off-road between towns and cities. That’s what the Slow Ways initiative, with its distinctive geometric connections, is creating.
The vast majority of Slow Ways routes start and finish in populated places, with varied transport links, food and accommodation options. This makes it easier and more affordable to plan short, medium and long-distance journeys.
As people walk and wheel, review, rate, survey and create new routes this is evolving into a network of ‘verified’ routes, ones that can be used with confidence. Over time, this will help people with specific needs and desires easily find routes that meet their requirements.
Slow Ways is a positive and timely initiative. Walking can improve health and wellbeing, help tackle climate and ecological emergencies, save people money, improve our environment, create memories and bring joy to people's lives.
Slow Ways is a collaborative effort:
- 70 people helped test the idea at a Slow Ways hack day in February 2020
- 700 people helped plot a first draft of the network during the spring 2020 lockdown
- 80,000 people registered to help walk and review routes by winter 2020
Because of this scale of support, Slow Ways CIC was formed in 2020 as a not-for-profit community interest company.
All of the route information that’s collated will always be free to browse, search, view, share and download.
We plan for versions of the verified network of Slow Ways walking routes to be released under a Creative Commons license so that people and organisations can freely download, share and innovate with it.
Up for helping? To get started, sign up, then:
1. Choose a Slow Ways route
2. Walk, or wheel it
3. Review it
Benefits of Slow Ways
A large number of potential benefits have been identified by volunteers, partners and backers in developing the Slow Ways initiative.
These include, but are not limited to:
- sharing a positive, empowering, rewarding and inclusive project at a time of national crisis and recovery
- offering a source of community engagement, focus, identity and pride
- boosting the equity of use of path networks
- increasing the use of currently under-used paths – thereby keeping them open and valued
- improving health and wellbeing by encouraging physical activity for short trips and longer journeys
- helping to mitigate the causes and effects of Covid-19, being part of recovery plans, and offering public transport alternatives
- creating opportunities for people to connect with friends, family and colleagues
- reducing pollution and emissions through active travel options as an alternative to carbon-based transport
- contributing to the decarbonisation of local and national transport systems and helping to address the climate emergency
- connecting people to ‘nearby nature’, heritage, places and communities
- encouraging modal shift – supporting more people to walk more of the time, for more purposes
- providing safe, direct and enjoyable routes between neighbouring towns and cities
- linking active travel to public transport hubs
- promoting greater use of existing paths, trails, networks, and the connections between them
- saving people money by encouraging an inexpensive form of travel
- spreading economic activity by inspiring visits to, and stays in, more places
In the news
Here’s a selection of news stories about Slow Ways:
- “Walk this way: army of hikers will road-test new map of footpaths” The Guardian
- “Slow map: Mapping Britain's intercity footpaths” BBC News
- “Can the 'Slow Ways' project change how we travel?” The Telegraph
- “New national walking network gets thumbs up from town council” Frome Times
- “How you can help plot the future of UK walking – from a standstill” National Geographic
- “How the Slow Ways network could change walking in Britain” The Guardian
- “New network of 7,000 walking routes connects Britain's towns, cities and villages for the first time” Country Living
- “Britain’s all new Slow Ways to bring back the old ways” Times of India
- “Life after lockdown: one man’s plan to get the UK back on its feet” Positive News
- “New hiking network in the UK connects 2,500 towns, cities and notable spots” Metro
- “A new hiking network links thousands of towns around Britain” Lonely Planet
- “Can a network of 7000 walking routes transform the way we travel?” Euro News
Who's making it happen?
Hundreds of people have contributed to Slow Ways. Some have invested massive amounts of time and energy creating, sharing and checking routes. Without this incredible effort Slow Ways would not exist.
Slow Ways started as a simple idea. Since then, the scale of the challenge has grown rapidly. Fortunately, so has the level of support for the initiative.
The main organising and delivery team is spread across Great Britain.
Dan Raven-Ellison (founder), Darren Moore (web developer), Julian Lipton (chief operating officer), Saira Niazi (community stories), Hannah Engelkamp (culture and imagination), Lara Kramer (partnerships), Joao Soares (software engineer), Jane Taylor (network-making coordination), Andrew Mackay (network-making coordination), Cristie Moore (responding to enquiries), Charlie Peel at Urban Good (beautiful maps), and Toney Calvert at Colourform (design).
A sounding board has been formed to help shape and guide Slow Ways. This group includes people from across Wales, England and Scotland who have a range of interests and backgrounds, including David Lintern, Claire-Jane Carter, Rowena Macaulay, Kelly Tourle, Cherelle Harding, Kamalpreet Badasha, Mohammed Dhalech, Tim Simons, Rosie Watson and Yetunde Kehinde.
Slow Ways has had additional Geographical Information Systems support from volunteers at Costain, including Sophie Stouki, Georgia Roberts, James Cunningham and Monika Swiderska.
Slow Ways has kindly received funding from:
We would also like to thank our friends at Costain, ESRI and Ordnance Survey for advice and support.
Got a question or need help? Please visit our Help Centre and forum.
Going on a Slow Ways journey? Want to help make Slow Ways a success? We’d love to hear from you.
Our team is spread across the country, but we have a forwarding address in central London. Don’t try and visit as we’ll not be there. If you would like to post us anything please send it to:
Slow Ways CIC, 3rd Floor, 86-90 Paul Street, London, England, EC2A 4NE