We were joined by the BBC’s Countryfile for a wet and wondrous walk from Warwick to Leamington Spa! Read on for a quick-start guide to joining Slow Ways (rain optional!)
Despite the relentless weather, Warwick-Leamington Spa was a five-star route. The group of dedicated route-reviewers – Mary, Lynn, Kelly, Ingrina and David, plus the Countryfile film crew – reviewed the route after we’d all got home and dry, and unanimously considered it worthy. See the episode here; we’re 10 minutes in.
By the end of the day the route was verified, which means that it had three positive reviews (and more!), and a snail badge of approval. It is now considered a trustworthy part of the Slow Ways network. A satisfying result!
Trustworthy, and beautiful too. The route took us through the picturesque streets of Warwick town, offered a hazy glimpse of the castle turrets from prim parkland filled with a myriad of old trees, and along the beautiful river Avon. Despite the pouring rain, the group were taking photographs, vlogging, sketching and surveying along the way.
See the walk on the BBC!
After the film crew left us we continued on to Leamington Spa, passing by an aqueduct, a field of sheep, an international bowls match, and a whole host of other interesting sights and sounds. Our day together was filled with laughter and joy, connection and discovery.
People all over the UK are walking an average of 137km of Slow Ways every day (!), peer reviewing, testing, amending and bringing valuable local knowledge to the routes. Together these many hundreds of volunteers are well on the way to having created a fully verified national walking network connecting all the towns, cities and national parks in Great Britain.
Sound like your sort of thing? Read on below to find out how you can get involved.
Your guide to getting started with Slow Ways
Through the series of videos below, Cristie will talk you through the process of signing up to the site, choosing and downloading a route, and leaving your first review (they really needn’t be long!).
Step 1: Sign up to Slow Ways! It’s free and easy
Having an account allows you to create waylists (route collections for future plans), leave reviews and track the numbers of routes you’ve walked!
Sign up here, or watch the video for help with signing up.
Step 2: Find and download the route
Find a route, download the GPX file and open it on a navigation app like OS Maps, Garmin Basecamp (laptop app), Viking (laptop app), Outdoor Active (mobile app) or Locus map (Android only). You can also go old-school and either print the map via Inkatlas or simply draw it onto an Ordnance Survey map.
You can use the Slow Ways website to search for a route in your local area or futher afield. If you’re just getting started, you can try walking a route that’s already been reviewed so that you know what to expect! Feeling bold? Be the first to pioneer a route that has no reviews.
Step 3: Walk the route!
Now for the fun bit – plan and walk a route! During your journey you can take some photos and make some notes. You can add these to your review later on.
You don’t have to walk the whole route in one day – for most routes there are points every 5km where you can jump off. You can easily break a route into a number of sections and then post a review when you’ve completed all of them.
Step 4: Leave a review!
It’s easy to leave a review. Simply find the route you walked, scroll down the page and click ‘review this route’. You can then give it a star rating and add a review.
It can be as long or short as you like! Is it a viable route? Did you enjoy it? Did you face any challenges? What was the weather like? Did you have any interesting encounters or discover any gems along the way? Share them with the next walker!
If you find that a route isn’t possible to walk, you can upload a new gpx file via the ‘Suggest a Better Route’ function or write about the issue in your review so that others know how to get around it.
Step 5: Create a waylist of your dream routes and journeys and plan them using Slow Ways! You can make your waylist public to share it with others too
Part of the fun of using Slow Ways is planning purposeful adventures. You can do this by creating waylists that feature some of your dream routes. Recently I have created a number of waylists which I have given names like Sea Dreamer, Edgelands, Multicultural Magic, Pastoral Visions, and my personal favourite ‘You Will Get Lost!’
Each of my waylists consists of routes in different parts of Great Britain, but yours could be a holiday plan, a hit-list of routes in your local area, or a gauntlet to share with a friend. Click the button below for more in-depth how to guides from Cristie to help you on your Slow Ways journey.
Welcome on board, and happy walking!
Slow Ways has kindly received support from the National Lottery Community Fund. Thank you National Lottery players!