diamond geezer

 Monday, May 03, 2021

There's a new long distance walking network in town... and in the city and in villages and snaking across the countryside. Wherever you are in Britain it ought to be somewhere near you.

It's called Slow Ways - an initiative to connect the nation via a web of interconnected walking routes. It was originally proposed by Daniel Raven-Ellison, perhaps better known as the man who dreamt up the dubious concept of National Park Cities (and, more impressively, convinced Sadiq Khan that London was one).



For the Slow Ways project hundreds of nodes were selected marking centres of population, usually at accessible locations like railway or bus stations. These were then connected by straight lines to create a lattice of routes across the country - approximately 7500 connections altogether. The idea was to find a decent walking route for each of these connections, not necessarily direct but pleasant and broadly accessible, via a major crowdsourcing challenge.

Over the last year thousands of people have explored their localities to suggest possible routes and these are now available on the Slow Ways website (free of charge, no logging in required). The next stage of the project is to review each route and provide some background information to provide confidence that the routes selected are appropriate. What's the geography like, are the paths of a reasonable quality, is there a better way to go, that kind of thing.



Each Slow Ways node has about half a dozen connections depending on local topography. Here's the node for Rochdale which links to seven towns and villages up to six miles distant. Longer walks can be created by chaining together individual routes, so for example Manchester is two links away (via Middleton). To review each section and confirm it's better than potential alternatives will require a lot of additional input, but it only requires a few Rochdale residents to take an interest and hey presto, a verified interconnected pedestrian highway.

Some Slow Ways cross fields, others traverse hills, some follow the coast and a lot wend through suburbs. But I don't have that luxury of landscape here in East London, so for my trial run I've chosen to follow a Slow Way that's rather more mundane.



This is Dalbet, so called because it runs between Dalston and Bethnal Green. It's just two miles long, very much at the short end of the Slow Ways oeuvre, and involves only 12 metres of ascent so is hardly tiring. But it's still a good choice for me to investigate because there isn't an obvious direct route, indeed I bet most Londoners would plump for private or public transport every time rather than try to negotiate the intermediate area on foot.

I started at Bethnal Green tube station and headed north. I immediately wanted to take a shortcut through Museum Gardens, which was considerably more verdant and blossomtastic than the 'official' route up busy Cambridge Heath Road and would also have cut the corner off. I suspect this is the kind of feedback the Slow Ways team wants to hear because at present Dalbet is simply one person's submission with no reviews as yet.



I had a lot more trouble when it came to taking the turning off Old Ford Road, because there wasn't one. The line drawn alluringly on the map instead passed through some railings leaving me to take a diversion round the foot of a tower block. I suspect this is the kind of feedback the Slow Ways team not only wants but needs. Things got better after that, following quiet backstreets and with a zebra crossing in just the right place to traverse one burst of traffic. It wasn't especially picturesque, nudging into a light industrial zone past taxi repair yards, but I wasn't complaining.

Next a problem of scale. It wasn't clear from the line on the map whether I was supposed to follow the Regent's Canal towpath or the parallel (quiet) street. This was partly because I couldn't zoom in close enough to distinguish between the two but mainly because someone had drawn the line much too approximately. This shouldn't be a big problem in urban Bethnal Green but a badly-drawn line could leave you badly adrift in a Bedfordshire field or the Brecon Beacons. The canal was lovely whicheverway.



The next section involved walking the full length of Broadway Market with its artisan cafes and bijou shops - precisely the kind of jewel you might have missed if you'd chosen the route yourself. Then came the full length of London Fields, zigzagging across the grass in a Way that was definitely Slow, and all the more pleasant for it. I was impressed that this Slow Way had now managed to be off-road for nigh on one mile (canal/pedestrianised street/park) which is quite an achievement for inner London.

Finally it was time to head west along Forest Road, a long residential backstreet which was appropriately quiet and required no additional navigation for the next ten minutes. I only had to remember to turn right just before the end into a long pedestrianised piazza and I'd reached my destination at Dalston Junction station. It felt like forty-five minutes that someone had thoughtfully curated rather than simply thrown together, so I'd chalk that up as a Slow Ways win.



I don't really need a Slow Ways network to find my way around East London but I imagine it could be very useful elsewhere in the country where I'm less familiar with the landscape. It could also encourage me, or you, to take an interesting route from A to B rather than hopping onto some less sustainable form of transport. But it all relies on input and accuracy, so there's a lot of work to be done before I could be sure that a Slow Way wouldn't leave me adrift and unable to continue.

Imagine if this really took off and a detailed network of Slow Ways crisscrossed the entire country. In the meantime the beta website is well worth an explore, and if you dipped in and offered some feedback it might be even better.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv