Who’s up for an epic summer holiday walking challenge?
We’ve had an idea that we’d really like your help with.
We love creating routes that people can follow. We also love our national trails and national parks.
So we got thinking… what if we used Slow Ways routes to create a mega-trail that connects all of Great Britain’s national parks? Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing to design and, maybe, for people to follow? So, let’s have a go!
The trail will connect all 15 national parks, Great Britain’s first National Park City (London) and numerous Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Scenic Areas. Once completed it will likely be over 3,500km (2,100 miles) long. That’s a long way – and what an amazing hike it will be! Walking and checking routes through and between the most beautiful parts of Scotland, England and Wales? What a perfect mission for summertime weekends, long days off, or holidays in national parks.
It could look something like this:
Such a trail could go many different good ways, and we’d love to know which way different people think it should go, especially where they have local knowledge or experience.
Up for helping?
The Slow Ways National Parks Trail will use the Slow Ways network. This means the trail will benefit from the Slow Ways methodology, we will be able to rapidly design the network and the website will help people to walk, check, review and improve routes.
Here’s the step-by-step plan and how you can help:
Step 1: Where should the trail connect?
Do you have good knowledge or experience of one or more of Great Britain’s national parks or the stretches in between?
1. Scroll down and take a look at the trail possibility maps below. Do you know of a better way? Perhaps a way that is more enjoyable, sensitive, accessible, safe, has better transport links or fits the Slow Ways methodology in another way.
This is a game of dot-to-dot to decide which places should be connected by the trail. We are not asking for feedback on where individual routes should go, but deciding where in the network should be connected to create the trail.
Please create separate waylists for each national park or each section between national parks – that will make it much easier for us to analyse everyone’s suggestions and comments. Make sure the Waylist is set to “public” so we can see it.
3. Submit your waylist of suggestions through this simple form.
All suggestions should be with us by midnight on Sunday July 3rd.
Step 2: We’ll re-draft the trail
We’ll look at everyone’s suggestions and draft a new trail, based on where most people think the trail should go, and levels of local knowledge and experience.
Once drafted, we’ll contact everyone who’s submitted ideas for any final comments.
Step 3: Hiking and checking
Hiking and checking – this part is very important and very ambitious! Every route in the trail will need walking, reviewing and verifying. In some cases new route options will need to be added to the trail and they will need to be ground-truthed too.
In all, there are likely to be over 200 routes that will need checking. Some will be under 5km, but as the trail will go through some tough open country, a few may be over 50km.
You might check one small section or be up for walking 100km across an entire national park. It will all count.
Step 4: The grand prize!
Once done, we will have collectively created one of the longest and most incredible trails in Great Britain. Whether you plan to walk all or part of it yourself, it will be a wonderful thing to have created and gifted to the country… and just possibly, we could have designed, walked and checked it within a single summer. A super-ambitious, 2000-mile, 3500km, brand-new, crowd-sourced monster-trail. That’s the length of the Appalachian Trail! Or the England and Wales coast paths put together!
Possibilities possibilities possibilities!
The maps below show a set of possibilities for where the trail could go.
Click on any of the maps to see their waylist maps on the Slow Ways website.
If you are creating a waylist of better ways, please start/finish the routes on the same sides of the national parks as we have. You don’t have to use the same settlements, but if we are showing that the trail will connect into a National Park from the north, south, east or west, please do the same so that we can make it all join up!
Start/finish sides: Brecon Beacons (East/West), Broads (North/South), Cairngorms (South/Any other), Dartmoor (North/South), Exmoor (East, South), Lake District (North/East), Loch Lomond and The Trossachs (North/South), London National Park City (South/North), New Forest (West/East), North York Moors (West/South), Northumberland (North/South), Peak District (North/South West), Pembrokeshire Coast (North East/South East), Snowdonia (North/South), South Downs (West/North) and Yorkshire Dales (West/East)
This is a really exciting project. Please do contribute by sharing knowledge or a walk and let’s see what we can make before the end of the summer!