Waychecks? Waylists? Routes? Snails? Find out what these terms and a handful of others mean in our handy guide to Slow Ways jargon
If you’re new to Slow Ways you may be a little confused about some of the terms used on the website and in the community. Here is a handy guide to keep close when navigating the web of Waylists, Snails and Waychecks.
Slow Ways is a project which aims to create a verified walking network between all of Britain’s towns and cities. These walking routes should ideally be accessible, as direct as possible and of course safe. “Slow Ways” usually refers to the project as a whole, the website and also the app.
A place refers to any town, city or other landmark which has appeared on the Slow Ways network map as a location to walk to or from. Places are the nodes of the network, and Slow Ways are the connectors.
A Slow Way is a virtual connection between two Places on the Slow Ways network. Each Slow Way may contain a number of Routes. The goal of Slow Ways is to make sure every Place is connected to another Place by a Slow Way. A Slow Way becomes verified once at least one Verified Route is in place. A Slow Way is named by the two places at either end, from West to East – eg. Hammersmith to Fulham becomes “Hamful” (even if you walked from Fulham to Hammersmith).
A Route is a possible version of a walking route between two places to create a Slow Way connection. Routes are submitted as GPX files, points that correlate to a map which give a path for wayfinding apps such as OSMaps to follow.
Each Slow Way may have multiple routes which may be quite different to each other, or may be the same walk with slight differences. Each Route uploaded has a number attached: for example, Caerphilly and Cardiff are both Places on the network, and the routes Caecar one and Caecar two are the two possible Routes to make the Slow Way connection of Caecar. If someone discovers an alternate path, they can upload it as Caecar three for other volunteers to try walking (Read how to submit a route).
Even if a Route is declared unsuitable (eg for safety reasons), the route and number will remain listed alongside later routes as an example of what not to do.
Volunteer / Review / Survey
Of course some people may like to just walk a Slow Ways route and that’s fine. For the network to thrive, however, we rely on volunteers who have registered an account and write Reviews when they’ve walked a Route.
Some volunteers can choose to go a step further and do our free survey training, which means they can submit a survey for the route as well, which looks at matters of safety and accessibility.
Pioneer / Snail / Verified
To pioneer a route is to be the first person to walk it and then write a review. To snail a route is to verify it; to be the third person to give it a positive review, whereupon it is marked with the snail logo. Once a route has three positive reviews, it usually becomes verified, although this does depend on what the negative reviews say (if there are any).
Just like a Playlist of music, a Waylist is a share-able list of routes curated by a Slow Ways user, which they or someone else would like to walk. For example, we have a Waylist based on the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which takes the walker from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed. They don’t have to be through-hikes though: they can be a circle such as Darren’s Yorkshire Dales route, or thematically connected but geographically seperate, like Saira’s collection of sea walks.
Seperate from Waylists, Slow Ways also has a Routing feature. So for example, if you search for a route between Hayes and Hammersmith, you’ll be lucky enough to walk through four verified (snailed) Slow Ways routes that pass through Southall, Ealing Broadway, and Acton. There’s also an option to save the routed walk as a Waylist, which you can then tweak to your satisfaction (for example, if you want to hop on the Tube for part of that journey).
Swarm / Waycheck
In 2022, we held Swarm events where volunteers got together for meet-ups across the country to verify as many routes as possible over a weekend. This year, our every move is the new tradition as we start the Great Slow Ways Waycheck, which we hope will become as loved as the old tradition of beating the bounds. Waychecks will be opportunities for people to come together over a shared love of walking and ensure all their local routes are still as good as they were to walk the previous year (read more about Waychecks).
If you’re ready to pioneer, review and verify (or snail!) a route, create and share a waylist or even undergo survey training, sign up for Slow Ways here, and join our community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.