Length of routes
I think the idea of slow ways is really good but I am frustrated by the length of most of the routes. I generally walk by myself and the maximum I can comfortably walk 10 miles but I find myself unable to do a huge proportion of slow ways. This is because not only do you need to be able to do the walk but you have to allow time to get back to where you started or where your base is via public transport.
I live in Milton Keynes and although reasonably well served by public transport most of the routes are too long for me. I recently was on holiday in North Norfolk. There was no one route I could do. Why are all of the routes so long? I think if additional towns/ meeting places were included and so the average length of a route shortened then the slow ways network would get greater use.
I really think the additional of extra towns would make slow ways more inclusive and would encourage more people to start walking. Nobody starts walking doing a 15 mile route. I'm at the other end of the scale, 20 years ago I could walk 15 miles but now I still really enjoy walking but 6 or 7 miles is where my comfort zone is.
Having shorter routes would not impact on people who can walk further, they could do 2 routes in a go.
This is very interesting. I find myself in the same boat, so to speak.
As a Slow Ways volunteer, I plotted / amended quite a few routes where I thought, "Could I do this myself?" and the answer was "Nope." Generally, 6 miles is my comfort zone; 10 miles at the most, if on the flat.
But, we were constrained by the 'node network', which in turn was driven by the vision of Slow Ways to connect settlements, rather than just nice locations. For urbanised areas of the UK, settlements are very close together. For more rural or wild areas, however, settlements can often be very far apart. It's just the way it is.
Maybe a later phase of Slow Ways could attempt a finer level of granularity of settlement nodes, but it would be a huge undertaking, I suspect.0
I suppose what I am suggesting is in less densely populated areas there should be more nodes. No more nodes are needed in densely populated areas like London where most walks are just a couple of miles. So where there is less population more villages should be nodes to reduce the average length of walk. In Milton Keynes there are plenty of additional nodes that could be added which would greatly reduce the average length of walk and enhance the network. Stony Stratford is a good example. Historically part of the local village network but not a node.
I think that unless the average length on walk is reduced slow ways will end up as a niche for the very fit not the fantastic new walking network which all can use.0
When I walk a route I also survey it. One of the survey questions is about the middle third of the route containing bus stops, stations, benches etc. I think information about how to rest midway, or do part of a route, where you can 'bail out' is important for those who want to do shorter walks for any reason.
I would encourage others to survey the route, or mention in the review, where 'bail out points are. I don't think Slow Ways are a 'niche for the very fit' if the surveys and reviews are done in accordance with the methodology (below) especially points 5 and 6. There is no rule to say you have to walk from node to node. There will, however, always be some routes, especially in more rural/remote settings, for those with long legs!
All Slow Ways routes should follow a set methodology. As far as is reasonable it should:
- be safe
- respect local codes and laws
- be accessible to as many people as possible
- be direct
- be off road
- have resting places to eat or sleep every 5-10km
- pass through train and bus stations
- be easy to navigate
- be enjoyable and beautiful
- use established routes (such as the Welsh Coast Path), but not be distracted by them!
You are right, of course Antony. I always put a bail-out for my walking route cards but I don’t make a point of mentioning them in my reviews and surveys - I will correct this in future.0
I'm really grateful for this thread and everyone who has contributed to it. Like Lynn and Philip I find some of my local routes rather long for me at around 11 and 12 miles, but as a local pioneer and Slow Ways enthusiast I've been keen to walk and review them in their entirety.
So I'm really pleased to have Antony remind me that Slow Ways are designed to have resting/bail out places every 5-10km and that of course people don't have to walk the whole route all at once.
This explains why an already long route (e.g. Cawyor) is made a bit longer by its short diversions into small villages! Rather than treating that as a disadvantage, as I have implied in my Cawyor review, I'm now realising it's a deliberate strategy to meet the Slow Ways criteria. (Maybe I'll go back and amend my review!)
Sorry, I meant *Liz* and Philip.0
I want to walk more, but am limited in how much I can do. I agree that shorter routes or even circular routes could be an improvement. I don't know how many people manage to complete a 20km route in a wheelchair, but I doubt it is very many!
Also, it seems that many of the routes near Chipping Ongar are alongside the roads rather than on the public footpaths that cross the countryside.0
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