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Can we make the 50 least direct Slow Ways routes more direct?

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31 comments

  • David Sanderson

    I've got my eye on Rowold (Rowley Regis to Oldbury). At first sight it looks like the designer just aimed as green a route as possible and makes a massive loop round the west but ignores that there's a perfectly walkable and more direct canal to the east. But maybe that was for a good reason? I'm definitely up for this challenge!

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  • Lynn Jackson

    And I'll take a look at Lonbee One - that route has problems with it.

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  • Lynn Jackson

    So, I've had a look and can see the reasons for Lonbee One being the route that it is.

    Apart from a locked gate at the beginning it's flat, and the area south east of Beeston is made up of the Attenborough Nature Reserve, the route takes the long but very pretty paths of the southern boundary of the Nature Reserve.

    But it is long, and if people want to walk a quicker and more direct route I have created a route that follows the northern boundary and goes directly into Beeston. The new route is 4.5 miles, compared to the old route 5.9 miles.

    I could have gone more direct using the God-forsaken A6005 road, but as it is a busy, charmless path without a single redeeming feature I decided to ignore it.

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  • Paul Scholey

    I’m surprised Sheeck one doesn’t make this list. It’s 12 miles versus 8.2 on the quickest road route and the proposed slow ways route follows a number of major roads.

    I’m going to try to propose a better option as I’m sure there must be shorter and more pleasant routes through Eckington Park

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  • Lynn Jackson

    So I've walked and created a new Lonbee route. It's shorter at 4.5 miles. I'll add the survey and review over the weekend.

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  • Daisy Cairns

    I've posted a new version of the CatElt route mentioned in the blog. I posted the route before reading the blog as I live nearby and was thinking about reviewing it, and how not-fun that would be. Those busy roads are not just busy, but one of the busiest trunk routes on the least improved trunk roads in London. 

    Hi Lynn, I didn't think about reviewing a route that I proposed, somehow I thought it would be discouraged, is it ok then?

    After reading the blog I looked at another of these routes. Turns out that the super long SeaAlf route in East Sussex is actually one of three, all predating the blog. The very long one is 110% more than the crow flies length but the shortest is only 40% more. There is a still more direct route possible, using proper roadside paths and some permissive rights of way which seem to only show on the county council records, not on OS or OSM maps https://row.eastsussex.gov.uk/standardmap.aspx. I didn't add it though, 3 routes is plenty! 

     

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  • Daisy Cairns

    Added a much shorter route for NewMil (Newmarket to Mildenhall) in Suffolk. Old  “Crow Fly Difference” was 103%, new route is 38%. The problems with Newmil one may stem from the creator trying to include Kennet train station, but it seems all those trains also stop at Newmarket. Maybe they also prioritised Off Road over Direct? Footpaths are quite scarce round there, many paths on OSM look like private horse exercising routes on OS.

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  • Lynn Jackson

    Hi Daisy, it’s encouraged to write up a review. Reviews can show different or prettier aspects of the route that aren’t important to the survey. And 3 reviews are needed to verify a route so another 2 people balance things out. :)

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  • Daisy Cairns

    There are routes on this list which already had shorter alternatives preloaded (dated 7 April) which is before Michael Tormey's blog. Several on the "50 least direct" Waylist are numbered two or three, and I've looked at two others, labelled as one, which already have considerably shorter alternatives (Dincar one and Norsyw one).

    Should we tell him?

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  • Daisy Cairns

    Thanks Lynn!

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  • David Sanderson

    If I may add my twopenneth about whether to review your own routes. In addition to what Lynn says it's worth bearing in my mind that it's the route that's being reviewed, not you. If you're not honest, it will soon get picked up by the second reviewer! I've walked recently "improved" routes but if they're not reviewed I can only assume that I'm the first person to actually walk it. If you've designed a 5 star Slow Way and when you walked it it felt like 5 stars then give it 5 stars!

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  • David Sanderson

    Rowold two is complete and clocks in at 4km precisely, which is two thirds of the length. It's one fifth(!) of the climb of Rowold one. I've got to say I'm pretty pleased with it. It's been nice to get back to working on routes I'm not walking (although in this case I might do soon). It's a bit like getting back to studio recording after months of live performance! This has been a really useful exercise, thanks Mike! Compare and contrast! https://beta.slowways.org/SlowWay/Rowold/

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  • Daisy Cairns

    Good points about self-reviews David. I'm inspired to get out and do some live performance. And I agree it's been good to do the route planning again.  

    I'm having a go at an alternative to Wolcon one in County Durham. The landscape is high moorland with no prospect of a pub or post office near the direct path so perhaps length is because the author was aiming for an eating/sleeping place every 5km. Its curious though, the meandering course actually loops out around another Slow Ways hub (with at least 3 pubs and 2 cafes?!) and veers close to a fourth. 

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  • Daisy Cairns

    I've found a shorter route for Wolcon, only 125% of crow-flies rather than over 100%. But can't upload it yet, as the main site is down.

    Actually I've made two routes, as the shorter one goes over a grouse moor, which is Access Land, but has a Natural England permit banning dogs, until 2025. I'm assuming dog walkers are a good part of the natural Slow Ways target audience. The longer dog-friendly version is only 0.6km longer with 40m extra ascent. I was planning to upload both but, on reflection while I wait to upload them, perhaps that is needlessly complicated.

    Should I just upload one or the other? Any thoughts welcome. 

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  • Daisy Cairns

    Should read

    only 125% of crow-flies rather than over *200%.

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  • David Sanderson

    I'd upload both of them. I think the idea is to start "the more the merrier" (or is it "the moor the merrier" in this case?...I'll get my coat) and as more routes are walked and reviewed the better ones will rise and the others will fade.

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  • Daisy Cairns

    lol! Will do.

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  • Daisy Cairns

    I'm looking at Bunpuc in Hertfordshire

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  • Daisy Cairns

    BunPuc was interesting. Yes, the original route is long, but it is really dedicated to staying on footpaths or the smallest roads and not a bad choice at all. Difficult to make an off road route round there which is more than marginally shorter, and they are all on bigger non-pavemented lanes which may be quite fast. Pretty much every route crosses the A10 at some point and those planners really didn't care about pedestrians.

    I've submitted a compromise using half small lanes and half on the A10 footpath, not ideal but fairly direct and it does have multiple resting points. A route actually following the A10 footpath the whole way would easily be the most direct route I've come across yet: 6.81km vs 6.6km as the crow flies. I just mentioned it briefly in the other route's description. It's such a simple route that's all someone needs to know if they are really prioritising distance over a low-bar enjoyment level.

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  • David Sanderson

    Just has a look at Bunpuc and you seem to have done a good job of balancing directness with variety. Saying that I haven't walked it (ha)! You've definitely made it look more inviting!

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  • Daisy Cairns

    Thanks David. It's not really inviting, I hope I haven't over sold it! Although the farm shop cafe does sounds nice. There's an old closed railway line that runs very closeby and now I'm fantasising that Herts County Council will convert it into a beautiful pedestrian/cycleway. 

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  • David Sanderson

    https://beta.slowways.org/Route/Bovchu/9004 Bovey Tracey to Chudleigh looked really tough at first but after few looks the area's actually turned out to not be anywhere near as pedestrian unfriendly as I first thought. Down from 13km to under 10km and with a pub stop halfway. I'm quite pleased with this

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  • Dick Donovan

    looking at one of the least direct routes, Seaalf Two, there are already 2 other Seealf's listed, both of which are shorter with Seaalf One being the most direct and 33% shorter (8km vs 12km).   However, S2 is probably a) the most iconic for views over the Seven Sisters/Cuckmere Haven, and b) is dead easy to follow and footpath all the way.

    the alternatives are already there so take your pick!

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  • David Sanderson

    I think we are getting through the English routes at quite a pace. There are still quite a few in Scotland

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  • TC

    I looked at Achsal but to shorten the existing route you would have to walk down the single track A861, rather than the single track B8007, so it looks to me like the existing route is the best of a bad lot.

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  • Michael Gayler

    I'm familiar with both the Nottingham & Northampton areas although I live in neither. It looks as though Lynn has done a great job with the LonBee routes - there is a similar 'feature' with NorSyw which has two routes - the first highlighted in the blog (NorSywTwo) is very similar to LonBeeOne in that it seems to go out of the way to take the user though the park areas in Northampton, but it does have the redemption of having shorter route already planned (NorSywOne) which takes the walker through Northampton town - although most of that is along the Kettering Road which is (let's be polite) pretty dreadful.
    Both these routes are similar in that they are on the edge of a suburban / urban area with an  attractive parkland nearby. It seems sensible to offer alternatives in this situation.

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  • Daisy Cairns

    There was something similar happening on two city routes I did over the last week. One in Glasgow, the other in Greater Manchester. Both had made quite big diversions to follow meandering riverside routes, which are probably really nice to walk along. But both had further compounded the issue by adding in a loop or two that seem excessive, more suited to a lovely day out than part of a network of paths with purpose. I found two much shorter alternatives which still managed to go through small parks or along green footpaths beside much smaller streams. Part of me really wanted to submit more efficient versions of the riverside routes while the urban walker part wanted to show that city walking can be varied and pleasant if you put a little thought into it. And I've noticed that many of the routes leaving Cardiff have done something similar along the river. I lived there for a while and can confirm that the Taff Trail is particularly lovely.

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  • Daisy Cairns

    PS I had a look at MalLla in mid-Wales and although it is really long I think it is the best option. The paths through the hills just don't join and I couldn't
    find anything more direct, except a very long fast country road with no verge, or a series of meandering paths interspersed with long sections on the same road.

    Happy if someone else can do better though.

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  • David Giles

    I've had a look at Bonlar one (Bonnybridge to Larbert, about 9km). This is 5.5km along the Forth and Clyde Canal towpath (a tarmac cycle route that is significantly wider than a typical English towpath), then 2.5 along riverside footpaths and then 1km along the pavements of urban streets.

    Bonlar three is 1.2km shorter, but involves an additional 700m along the pavements of urban streets. But it does go past a local railway station, more bus stops and a number fo small local shops and cafes.

    Bonlar two is 3km shorter, but involves about 1km along a relatively narrow, unlit, lane with no pavements. When I walked it at the weekend there was some traffic, but I didn't personally feel intimidated by it. I've added a photo of the road to the route.

    I think it's all about making tradeoffs, so the important thing is to highlight the differences between routes. I will probably add reviews/surveys to these routes over the next few weeks.

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  • Mike Davies

    I have looked at the Rhyhun 1 route; I live in Rhynie at one end. I haven't walked the route as I am certain it would not be practical along its whole length as I know the area. It also leaves Rhynie along the A97 road which I would not regard as safe.

    I have suggested two alternative routes, both of which I have cycled so I know they are feasible. They are, however, not really more direct. Rhyhun 1 is 26km, Rhyhun 2 is 28 km and Rhyhun 3 is 26km. but they are all on tracks or use smaller roads where this is necessary.

    I would not be prepared to try to survey and submit a report on Rhyhun 1 as I think sections of it would probably not be passable and I don't believe it is worth the waste of time to end up stuck somewhere and having to return. I think this might apply to many routes here in Scotland, certainly other routes from Rhynie appear to be impractical for this reason.

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