Mike’s Top 20 adventures!


As Mike Tormey, Slow Ways star reviewer, Marshall Scholar, transport planner and all-round amazing person, moves back to the US we look back at a ‘wildly joyful’ journey through his top 20 adventures

Mike is a force of nature; bright, fun, daring and a total joy to be around!  Since he started checking Slow Ways routes in the summer of 2021, Mike’s adventures (more than 200 of them!) have taken him all around the UK – from Chedder Gorge in Somerset to Alnwick on the Northumberland Coast.

We’re super sad that Mike’s days of walking Slow Ways are numbered (at least for now) as he moves back across the pond, to Denver, Colorado where he will start an exciting new job at the National Park Service. Ahead of his looming departure, I had the pleasure of catching up with him on a walk from Richmond to Kingston. We enjoyed a fun (and bittersweet) day walking beside the river and through unlikely green spaces whilst checking Jane’s stand-out route, catching up and eating ice-cream.   

During our walk, Mike showed me his super cool tattoo of a snail he recently got in Liverpool, his favourite city in the UK. He told me the snail is a symbol of going as slow as possible as fast as possible. For me, it captures the spirit of Mike: warm, goofy, determined, always speeding ahead with positivity and purpose.

Mike has explored more towns across the UK than many of us ever will, through checking and reviewing Slow Ways, creating walks for Go Jauntly and through his own personal ‘unhinged adventures’ – a personal favourite of mine was his recent visit to Gloucester to watch the Cheese Rolling races – that’s right, CHEESE ROLLING! Others include a spontaneous visit to a Crab Museum (see t-shirt in above photo, a worthy souvenir) in Margate and a cider mill in Axbridge – the list goes on.   

And so as we wandered together on that sunny day trading stories, I thought, what better way to celebrate Mike’s incredible achievements than by sharing his top 20 adventures! Without further ado – here they are – Mike’s personally chosen top 20 Slow Ways walks together with his reasons why they made the cut!

Mike’s Top 20 Adventures

Glasgow – Kelvindale

This was one of my early Slow Ways routes, and I loved how it showed off this really cool side of Glasgow. Following the River Kelvin shows off these awesome bridges and viaducts, but keeps you in a green corridor snaking your way through the city around you. It’s a rad route.

Edinburgh – Currie

For similar reasons to above, I love the way this route takes you out of Edinburgh on a lovely green and blue corridor. There’s an awesome tunnel that’s a total highlight of the route, as is the walk out of Edinburgh city centre, which is great for showing off a lesser known connection.

Berwick – Alnwick

Not much to say on this one. Best walk I’ve ever done. Five star adventure. I cried tears of joy arriving into Alnwick on day four. The Northumberland Coast is so beautiful. And my 100th route!

Yorkshire Dales

Another epic factor set of routes! There was a moment on day 1 when Mary and I descended from this highland plateau into a valley below, and looking back up, it looked like we had come from a mysterious wilderness. The feeling of having crossed this gorgeous landscape on foot was so exciting. And of course, the company was great! It felt like a true community moment – Mary joined me for the weekend, and we walked a route that Dave had plotted for us!

(Settle to Kettlewell, Kettlewell to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Horton to Ribblehead and Horton to Settle)

Liverpool – Garston

I love Liverpool, of course. What better way to experience this city I love so dearly than by arriving into it on foot? Along the gorgeous Mersey River? Wildly joyful.

Madeley – Baldwin’s Gate

This route was the middle of three I had joined up to form a marathon day. The first and third routes of the day were… okay… but I had to fail both of them. Miraculously, this route was perfect. I have fond memories of this route for the excitement of discovering it was perfectly walkable and pleasant, in contrast to the routes around it!

Burton on Trent – Melbourne

The first group gathering! I remember the excitement and nerves as I hopped on an early EMR train up to Long Eaton and continued my journey on two different buses to get to Melbourne on time. I was so nervous I hid in the public bathroom in the town until just before the meeting time! Of course it went swimmingly. We had a lovely day together. The first of many to come!

Ely – Littleport

I was so stressed about my dissertation and feeling just so tired and worn out. Remembering how much I liked Ely the first time I went I decided one morning to abandon all responsibilities and spend the day in the city. It was goofy – there was a full string of verified slow ways routes between Cambridge and King’s Lynn except for Ely – Littleport. So I figured I’d try it out. Starting in Littleport, I had to fail the route. I spent the afternoon exploring Ely on a beautiful day. Feeling up for it, I decided to map a new version on the fly and walk back to Littleport. It was hardly a ‘proper’ rest day, but it was so pleasant to spend the day in Ely and to walk in the countryside.

Yatton – Axbridge – Wells

A great adventure! This was a perfect example of Slow Ways being utilitarian in a way. It’s so tough to get around the Cheddar Gorge area by public transport, so I got there by walking. I also wanted to go to the Thatcher’s cider mill, which just so happens to be located actually on the Slow Ways route! A perfect collection of tourist attractions linked up by Slow Ways. A great two days across the Mendip Hills.

(Yatton to Axbridge, Axbridge to Wells)

Frome – Maiden Bradley – Bruton

The worst day of Slow Ways walking I’ve ever done. It was so hot. There were so many overgrown paths, locked gates, cows in fields, navigational issues, and more. It was an exercise in patience for sure.

(Frome to Maiden Bradley and Maiden Bradley to Bruton)

Romsey – King’s Somborne – Winchester

My frst two Slow Ways routes ever! I knew the areas from cycling, but had never experienced them on foot. There were gorgeous hilltop vistas, blooming bluebells, rolling fields of flowers. It was a super fun day trying out this new thing. I was amazed by the final approach into Winchester – every time I thought the path wouldn’t exist as mapped, it did, and it navigated me into Winchester creatively and totally without issue!

(Romsey to King’s Somborne and King’s Somborne to Winchester)

Saltash – Torpoint

This was a goofy little route I did on a whim. It’s a real mixed bag; there’s some good features and some less good features. It shows off the hilly residential districts west of Plymouth city centre, so there’s not like a lot going for it for a big chunk in the centre. That said, it starts from Torpoint with the chain ferry, which is fun. It ends on the Saltash side with a walk over the Tamar Bridge, with a great view of the Royal Albert Bridge. I love getting up close and personal with great bridges, and I loved getting an ice cream on the water in Saltash, in the shadow of the bridges.

Isle of Wight

An epic adventure. There are so many moments on the Isle of Wight when you round a corner and you’re struck by the most beautiful countryside view you’ve ever seen. At one point, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of the view and exclaimed, out loud, “OH MY GOD!” Little did I know, there was someone coming up just behind me, and I definitely startled them! About midday on day 1, I was on top of a hill with a great view over one of the seaside towns. Almost immediately, the clouds rolled in, and I spent the next day and a half fully engulfed in the clouds. It created this surreal and otherworldly effect to the walk. It was epic. At one point, I took a wrong turn and was too stubborn to turn back; this led me to trudging up a hillside, fully shrouded in mist, surrounded only by the sounds of sheep baa-ing in the distance. Arriving into Yarmouth as the sun came out was an incredible feeling. An EPIC adventure!

(Ryde to Bembridge, Bembridge to Sandown, Sandown to Shanklin, Shanklin to Ventnor, Ventnor to Yarmouth)

Hampstead Heath – Wood Green

One of the coolest London walks I’ve done! It’s amazing – it goes from green space to green space almost the full way. You’re in London but you’d hardly even know it, staying in quiet green spaces almost the whole way.

Canary Wharf – Greenwich

My first London route! I met Dan in person for the first time ever at Greenwich on my second day in London and we walked all the way to Wood Green together. This route is pretty cool, showing off the Greenwich foot tunnel and the docks of the Isle of Dogs before entering into the heart of Canary Wharf. A whirlwind of a route!

Richmond – Kingston

Duh 🙂

Monument – Liverpool Street

There’s no better city in the world for walking than the City of London specifically. I love walking in the City. There’s so many alleys and passages and cool views of cool buildings and it’s so quiet and pleasant for walking and there’s so much to discover along the way and it’s just so fun, every time. The experience of adventuring and discovering is excellent. This route is the perfect introduction to the joys of walking in the City!!

Thank you Mike, for every adventure and subsequent route reviewed! We look forward to seeing your adventures in the USA! Click here to follow Mike on Twitter.

Inspired? Why not sign up and walk slow ways? Mike’s five star routes waylist is a great place to start. Alternatively, check out Mike’s full list of walked routes for a greated and more varied selection of walks.

Saira Niazihttps://www.livinglondon.org/
For as long as she can remember, Saira's loved wandering around, discovering new places, talking to strangers and recording her adventures. When she was in school she would often bunk off and end up exploring markets, museums, city streets and suburbs. She leads wandering tours, writes, and is Slow Ways' Community Story Lead.