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Slow Ways: help map a network of walking routes

  • by JW

… looking for people to help walk, test, record and review routes …

‘Slow Ways’ is one of a number of efforts to get – and keep – increasing numbers of Britons walking.


Every year at this time of year, the Futures Forum blog looked at some aspect of being ‘slow’:

Futures Forum: Slow medicine @ Radio 4

Futures Forum: The Slow Movement

Futures Forum: Slow Food: “Pleasure, hedonism, enjoyment, tranquility, conviviality, richness”


Walking is certainly not only a slow way to get about – but good for us for all sorts of reasons, ‘slow’ being one of them.

In East Devon, confined under new restrictions as we are, we can still go for a good walk – and there are lots of paths to amble or stride along:

Great ideas for walks in the Sid Valley – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And of course we are being encouraged to do just that:

Boosting walking and cycling and supporting social distancing – Vision Group for Sidmouth


There is a national project hatched during these strange months:


Slow Ways in a snail shell

Slow Ways is a project to create a network of walking routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages.

Using existing footpaths, people will be able to use the Slow Ways routes to walk between neighbouring settlements or combine routes for long distance journeys.

During lockdown 700 volunteers from across the country collaborated to produce a first draft of the Slow Ways network, creating a stunning Slow Ways map in the process. This incredible effort has led to the creation of 7,500 routes that collectively stretch for over 110,000km.

While COVID-19 has forced millions of us to stay at home and indoors, that hasn’t stopped us from being collaborative, imaginative, creative and productive.

We are currently working on building a website that will host all of the Slow Ways routes and plan to launch that at the end of January.

All of the routes information that we collate will always be free to browse, search, view, share, download and enjoy.

Want to find out more? Read our FAQs.

Get involved

Slow Ways is a collaborative effort. Over a year of time has already been volunteered on the project.

We’re now looking for 10,000 people from across Great Britain to help walk, test, record and review all of the routes that have been drafted. In some cases we’ll need to design new routes too.

Up for helping? Please sign-up for the newsletter and we’ll update you as soon as we’re ready to get going!

Slow Ways – a network of walking routes connecting Great Britain


The Observer has just explored the project – and other efforts to look after and appreciate our many, many miles of footpaths:


Walk this way: army of hikers will road-test new map of footpaths

A website is calling for 10,000 volunteers to help walk and verify thousands of routes that were mapped during the lockdown

In January, Slow Ways will launch its website, asking 10,000 people to help walk, verify and review the 7,000 routes that their 700 volunteers drafted digitally during the spring lockdown.

The purpose of the project, says Raven-Ellison, “is to connect the places where most people are – so towns and cities – to where most people want to go to, which is towns and cities” via safe, direct and enjoyable routes. The country is criss-crossed with footpaths but, he says, “they largely go from countryside to countryside through countryside”. And there’s no comprehensive network: the current state of footpaths is, he says, “like a big pile of spaghetti”.

Slow Ways is one of a number of efforts to get – and keep – increasing numbers of Britons walking…

In February, the Ramblers launched its Don’t Lose Your Way crowdsourcing project. It is “about finding historical routes that have been generated over generations and putting them on to modern maps so people can walk and enjoy them,” explains Tom Platt, its director of advocacy and engagement. From 1 January there will be only five years left to add rights of way on to the definitive map (the legal record of rights of way) on the basis of historical evidence…

Walk this way: army of hikers will road-test new map of footpaths | Walking | The Guardian


There has been a lot of interest in the Slow Ways project over the year:

AWS Ordnance Survey Blog The Slow Ways project continues – AWS Ordnance Survey Blog

Slow Ways Project Connects 7,000 Walking Routes

How the Slow Ways network could change walking in Britain | Walking holidays | The Guardian