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Here you’ll find Slow Ways stories, films, blogs and news. Things to browse and share, to be informed and inspired by.

We’ll put out requests for stories and images at regular intervals, and share collaborations that link Slow Ways with music, art, maps and other creative projects.

Share your own Slow Ways stories and photos - with friends, through groups and on social media using #SlowWays.

Slow Ways art #6: Irene Lofthouse

6th July, 2022 by Guest

Slow Ways in poetry: writer and storyteller Irene Lofthouse walked a Slow Ways route and performs a poem in response to her journey from Shipley to Bradford

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An interview with Slow Ways volunteer Nic Howes

6th July, 2022 by Slow Ways

We spoke to Nic Howes, a geographer, walk leader and Slow Ways volunteer based in Herefordshire

A former geography teacher and keen walker, Nic has walked many routes across Great Britain over the last 60 years, from Mersea Island in the moonlight to the rugged Dorset coast near Kingston. More recently Nic has walked and reviewed Slow Ways in the West Midlands, championing Slow Ways in Herefordshire, both locally and nationally. In this interview, he shares stories, experiences, advice and more!

Why do you walk?

I’m a geographer with a lifelong fascination with place; the best way to explore a place is on foot. Both urban and rural environments benefit from the greater understanding and more informed decision-making that comes from close encounters, and only walking can provide that.

How did you find out about Slow Ways?

I cannot remember accurately, but BBC Midlands Today had a report from Ledbury (David Sillito), and that was early in my contacts. I think Dan was at Hay Festival 2011 with a group of guerrilla geographers; coincidentally, I led an 'Edgelands' walk in Hay then as a fringe event. (I think I remember he was) interviewed on BBC Countryfile about making London’s green/ blue corridors a National Park.

How many Slow Ways journeys have you been on? What's been your most memorable journey?

Not counting, but somewhere between five and ten so far. I enjoy all walks and cannot rank them. I recently completed the trial of Slow Way "Orcher" Orcop HillHereford yesterday, and it went very well.

Photos from Nic's Slow Ways walk

(Shortly after) I went on to a gathering of more than 120 citizen scientists from all over the Wye catchment, beside the river at Hay; it was a display of strength, a further call to action and a social gathering. The Wye's plight is now regularly featuring in national media and the photographs of the event should be out there over the coming weeks.

Nic has left many reviews on different Slow Ways routes he's tried out. Have a read of one below.

Nic's Slow Ways Review of Cinmit One - Cinderford - Mitcheldean

"I walked this route on 8.5.2022 and found no problems or any need to suggest a better alternative. My direction was from Mitcheldean to Cinderford but since it's named Cinmit I have ordered my comments below from Cinderford to Mitcheldean. There is a great deal of variety in a short distance due to the route crossing several different rock types with distinct associated building materials, landscapes and wildlife habitats. Waymarking is best across Forestry Commission land and is patchy elsewhere and pretty much absent in urban areas.

Cinderford is an interesting town with a proud industrial heritage. Near Cinderford bus station you will find a mural celebrating the mining heritage of the Forest of Dean. Just up the hill from the mural is a functioning cinema with an old facade. Nearby is "The Fern", which lays claim to being "the only gastropub in Cinderford". North of Cinderford the route crosses a patch of heathland on which I fancy I heard a nightjar in broad daylight - probably wishful thinking. Further north you will pass among tall communication masts sited on the route's highest point, 279 masl; these masts are prominent in distant views for miles across the region.

On the descending track towards the A4136 crossing, look out for a boulder that blocks vehicle access to a branch track to the right. If you take this branch track and cross a stile into the enclosed area you can mosey around to see a quarry where the markedly steep dip of the sedimentary rock layers is exposed (photograph 4). Nearby - partly protected by a fence - is the concrete cap of Edge Hill mine shaft, sunk in 1837*. Timing the drop of a stone through the grating set into the concrete cap usually gives a time of 5 seconds before a faint final "clack" is heard deep below, indicating a depth of at least 400 feet (s=ut + 0.5 x a x t squared - long-remembered thanks to my Maths and Physics teachers).

Once off the concrete cap and safely across the A4136, look for a path left to view a very different habitat - a fine pond. Just before starting the steep descent to Mitcheldean, look out for the walled enclosure of "The Wilderness", a residential centre for Gloucestershire schoolchildren for more than 50 years. On the steep descent itself, it is worth pausing to take in the view of Mitcheldean in the foreground, with May Hill in the near distance and the Malvern Hills in the far distance."

Photos Nic took on a Slow Ways journey in Cinderford, a place in the Forest of Dean.

Do you prefer country walks or urban walks, and why?

I have no preference; I find interest on every walk. My approach to walking shares some principles with psychogeography – reflecting on places while walking through them; I’m definitely not a “flaneur” though – my walks have a purpose (e.g. trialling Slow Ways).

Web of Slow Ways from Hereford

Have you had any interesting encounters whilst out walking?

In 60 years? Oh yes! One of many interesting encounters: on a windy day in early spring my partner and I walked down to The Carracks from Wicca Farm, on the wild coast between St Just and St Ives on the Cornish coast.

I walked down to The Carracks from Wicca Farm, on the wild coast between St Just and St Ives on the Cornish cast. We met two inshore fishermen who were unable to put to sea and were checking their pots and buoys
from the cliff path.

We met two inshore fishermen who were unable to put to sea and were checking their pots and buoys from the cliff path. We had an interesting and informative discussion about the state of the UK inshore fishing industry – in a beautiful place where that industry has great significance.

Do you prefer to walk alone or with company?

I'm comfortable in both situations. Circumstances mean that my “modal class” of walking is alone but it’s not a preference. Walking Festival leader and DofE supervision are examples of group walks (I lead/ go on).

Photo credits: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

Do you have any tips or advice for anyone who is interested in long distance walking?

It’s not something that I’ve ever done, although I’ve probably walked more miles on my “little and often” basis than many long-distance walkers.

My advice to would-be walkers is to invest in good socks and to learn to read a 1:25000 OS map (I’m a convert to the OS map app, and it’s great for beginners and old hands alike). If you are keen to walk longer distances, I would advise using a pair of walking poles to take pressure of joints and prolong walking into later life.

Do you have any exciting journeys planned for the future?

The prospect of a walk is always exciting. I am trying to bring local and national attention to Herefordshire’s Slow Ways. I am particularly interested in diversifying the walking community and was impressed with the Slow Ways section of BBC Countryfile – in Warwick – recently.

Nic Howes

Nic is a geographer, former teacher, walk leader, conservationist and Slow Ways volunteer based in Herefordshire. Nic also volunteers at the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. Read his brilliant and informative blogs via the button below.

Categorised under Walking, QandA and tagged as

Seeing stuff is really good

28th June, 2022 by Guest

Swansea comedian Steffan Alun on what's so great about walking. Spoiler alert: seeing stuff, gossiping, and not having to get on the tube

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Mae gweld stwff yn dda iawn

28th June, 2022 by Guest

Welsh/ Cymraeg: Y digrifwr o Abertawe Steffan Alun ar yr hyn sydd mor wych am gerdded. Rhybudd spoiler: gweld pethau, hel clecs, a pheidio â gorfod mynd ar y tiwb

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A walk with Dima

21st June, 2022 by Saira Niazi

As part of Refugee Week, Saira joined Dima Aktaa, an amputee, runner and aspiring interior designer, on a Slow Ways journey from her home in Flitwick to Amthill

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Can we connect all our national parks in one ambitious monster-trail? We'll need your help!

17th June, 2022 by Dan Raven-Ellison

Help us create an ambitious trail connecting up all of Great Britain's national parks – a perfect mission for summer walking weekends or holidays in national parks

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Help Zoë and Falco mule-proof their route

8th June, 2022 by Guest

Can you help mule-proof their route? Zoë Bicât and Falco are walking from Oxford to Loch Lomond, raising awareness and money for the Stop Ecocide campaign

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Slow Ways art #4: Lydia Chouler–Tissier

8th June, 2022 by Guest

An early-morning Slow Way recorded in film, photography, ink and wax pastels, by Leeds-based visual artist and photographer Lydia Chouler-Tissier

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Tuning in to nature

31st May, 2022 by Guest

Audio: Immerse your senses in this beautiful wandering wildlife pilgrimage on the Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales, with wildlife photographer and naturalist Ben Porter, and a Little Egret, Curlew, Yellow Dung Fly, Blackcap...

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Bradford, Shipley & beyond: a Slow Ways journey

30th May, 2022 by Saira Niazi

Saira spent some time in West Yorkshire, walking Slow Ways and getting to know amazing local people and places in the process

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Wythnos o gerdded yng Nghymru

17th May, 2022 by Hannah Engelkamp

Welsh/Cymraeg: Tim Ryan sy’n hen gyfarwydd â cherdded pellter mawr yn defnyddio Slow Ways i gynllunio ei daith gerdded wythnos o hyd o Gaerdydd i Aberystwyth

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Walk a week in Wales

17th May, 2022 by Hannah Engelkamp

Long distance walker Tim Ryan has pioneered a version of the Cambrian Way on 19 consecutive Slow Ways, across spectacular landscape from Cardiff to Aberystwyth

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Roxy's first route: Bristol to Portishead

5th May, 2022 by Guest

Roxy filmed her first Slow Ways walk, from Bristol to Portishead, as part of the National Swarm weekend

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Slow Ways art #2: Ranya Abdulateef

4th May, 2022 by Guest

Wakefield textile artist Ranya Abdulateef walked a Slow Ways route. See her collaged response to the journey

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Slow Ways art #1: Rosie Wainwright

26th April, 2022 by Guest

As part of our Slow Ways art project, multidisciplinary artist and designer Rosie Wainwright walked a Slow Ways route and produced creative work in response to her journey.

"I walked a Slow Ways route from Pool-in-Wharfdale to Adel on the 26th March, which was a lovely sunny Leeds day. The walk took us through woodland, farmland, alongside roads and areas of water. All along the walk I was drawn to all the signage and wild type I found which I used in my piece, alongside other imagery from my walk, and drawings."

Rosie's final piece

Rosie Wainwright

Rosie is a multidisciplinary artist and designer who works across drawing, design, zine making and experimental textiles. She enjoys collecting imagery and ephemera as well responding to her surroundings in her work. Within her practice she is interested in found type and craft as well as our relationship with place, narrative and nostalgia.

Categorised under Walking, Photography, Journeys, Art and tagged as

Walking stories told through art

25th April, 2022 by Saira Niazi

Six artists illustrate their Slow Ways journeys in West Yorkshire through sewing, printing, writing, vlogging and collage

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Top tips for walking while fasting

20th April, 2022 by Saira Niazi

Spiritually-speaking the holy month of Ramadan can be a great time to walk, but a few tips go a long way when fasting from dawn to dusk

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Mudwalking with mother: what mudlands can teach us about how to live

12th April, 2022 by Guest

Mud is associated with death, disease and madness, despite being one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Kate Monson explores the swirling, inconstant, downright stinky mudlands of her family history, and suggests that mud can teach us to live well in tangled, troubled times

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Wanderers #1: Ali Pretty

12th April, 2022 by Saira Niazi

Welcome to our Wanderers series, an interview series that spotlights interesting walkers from across the UK and beyond. In the first episode, we speak to Ali Pretty, Artistic Director of Kinetika and architect of the Beach of Dreams, an epic 500 miles walk over 35 days along the coast of England.

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Canvey Island to Southend-on-Sea: a Slow Ways journey

11th April, 2022 by Saira Niazi

Finding treasure in the whimsical, warm and mysterious Essex estuarylands, from Canvey Island to Southend and Leigh-on-Sea

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Stop walking in circles

7th April, 2022 by Dan Raven-Ellison

'Circular walks are almost always for necessity or convenience, but I love the joy of arriving' Slow Ways' founder Dan on his love of A to B

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Six pioneers and their shears

10th March, 2022 by Saira Niazi

Slow Ways is honoured to have a bunch of supervolunteers – solo walkers who are putting enormous time and energy into reviewing routes. They meet up for a walk every so often so I joined them in the Midlands, on the overgrown Longbridge to Halesowen route

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Q&A with David Sanderson, who's now walked 500 miles of Slow Ways!

24th November, 2021 by Dan Raven-Ellison

To celebrate his century of Slow Ways routes, I reached out to David with some questions. I wanted to find out what makes him tick, what he's planning next and any tips he has for people who'd like to follow in his footsteps.

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The Listening Walk takes to the Slow Ways

15th June, 2021 by Darren Moore

In this article we take to Slow Way Woodwool with David Matthews who is walking 6000 miles to visit every Samaritans in England, Scotland and Wales.

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‘Slow Ways Voices’ captured in short films

7th June, 2021 by Cristie Moore

6 films of 1-2 minutes’ duration have been created by 2 film-makers to show people in different settings, enjoying walking and making use of Slow Ways for a variety of reasons.

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'Slow Ways Voices' blog - Mahroof Malik

7th June, 2021 by Cristie Moore

Mahroof joined the initial Slow Ways ‘hack day’ in January 2020 to help form its early thinking and start the process of creating a network of walking routes.He went for a walk with friend Belal and film maker Nico Hambleton to explore the idea of Slow Ways. It made sense to walk one of the Slow Ways routes, from Bishop’s Castle to Minsterley, taking in tea shops, Shropshire Hills tracks and trig points along the way.Here’s some of what they spoke about. And here’s the short film, part of a suite of ‘Slow Ways Voices’ films.

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