Making 'everyday journeys' more active, safe and sustainable is our mission here at Brightwayz. These tend to be fairly short trips on regular, urban routes... cycling to work, walking to school, taking the bus to the shops.
But what if, for example, you want to take a slightly longer trip on foot between towns or villages? Would you know which was the safest, easiest route to take? Thankfully, the team from the Slow Ways campaign are on the case and country-wide volunteers are already busy identifying and promoting such routes. Here's more about what they do...
About Slow Ways
Slow Ways is the new and ever-evolving network of routes connecting Britain’s cities, towns and villages. There are currently over 7000 Slow Ways routes in the system, all of which were developed during the 2020 Lockdown by 700 volunteers.
Geographer and explorer Dan Raven-Ellison came up with the idea before the global pandemic brought life to a halt. His vision was to create a network of accessible routes which can be used by walkers and wheelers to travel for work or to visit loved ones and reduce our reliance on faster, more polluting transport.
During the pandemic, an array of volunteers from across the country plotted routes to connect urban areas and remote settlements, which are now available on the beta version of the Slow Ways website. The project is still evolving, with more volunteers now needed to pick routes from the maps, try them out and then review them for others to explore.
Promoting Walking for Purpose
The concept is to promote the idea of functional walking (as opposed to rambling around the countryside to see some hills or stop at a pub!), which improves health and has positive environmental impacts. It is hoped that the discovery of a slower pace of life over the past year may inspire people to see this as an alternative to using fuel-powered motorised transport for some of their journeys.
Getting to Friends and Relatives
For example, if you usually pop over to see Auntie Doris or Uncle Mo five miles away on a Saturday, but it is a pain because the traffic is always bad and you want to spend a bit of time doing some fitness… well, let a Slow Ways route help you out.
Find your route in the planner and download the gpx file to your phone or print out the map, then off you go! You will get fit and visit your beloved auntie or uncle all at the same time (plus avoid all that irritating, polluting traffic!).
When you’re done, you can then go back onto Slow Ways and leave a review of the route, suggest an alternative and even discover more exciting routes right on your doorstep (or someone else’s doorstep!).
How Can You Get Involved in Slow Ways?
Visit https://beta.slowways.org/ and explore some of the routes close to you. Leave a review of the route on the website and perhaps have a look at some routes that go a little further afield. Routes can be downloaded into navigation apps, such as OS Maps, printed or memorised if a well-known and well-signposted route.
Slow Ways is a CIC (Community Interest Company) and relies on support from the public to keep its work going. You can donate via the website or visit their shop and purchase some Slow Ways branded merchandise to fund their future plans.
Here at Brightwayz social enterprise we are keen to partner with and feature other not-for-profit organisations who demonstrate 'active travel hearts and minds campaigning' and whose aims cross over with ours - promoting safe, active, sustainable everyday travel.
For more information please get in touch, and keep an eye out for our future articles.