New year challenges via Slow Way

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Looking for a walking challenge to complete in 2023? You’ve come to the right place!

In this post I’m going to share a bunch of ideas for Slow Ways walking challenges. Some are micro-adventures and others are fairly epic.

I love a good walking challenge. As well as enjoying the planning and the journey itself, I love the feeling of accomplishment when a journey is completed. 

If you regularly enjoy 10-20 km circular walks on weekends, you can turn those loops into rewarding adventures by unravelling them into a challenge.

The reward of completing a challenge can be enriching, especially when the walk has purpose. Sometimes the reward can simply be arriving somewhere, but walking challenges can also be powerful for:

  • raising money for charity
  • drawing attention to a cause
  • developing relationships
  • reflecting on life and loss
  • improving health, fitness and wellbeing
  • growing knowledge, understanding and skills
  • connecting communities
  • improving the accessibility and diversity of places
  • creating memories and stories
  • being inspired and getting creative
  • feeling a great sense of achievement
  • inspiring others

By channelling your efforts through Slow Ways you’ll help to create a national walking and wheeling network at the same time. In turn you’ll help to inspire and support others to complete rewarding walking challenges too.

So, if you are planning to walk in 2023 why not #GiveAHike for Slow Ways and help to make something extraordinary in the process.

Walk a route

Not walked a Slow Ways route yet? Enjoy your first in 2023! Most routes are between 10 and 15km (6-9 miles) long, but many are under 5km and a few are over 40km. Challenge yourself to bag your first.

See how far you can go in 2023!

Steps and walks quickly add up. Walk a Slow Way a week and you could clock-up between 500 and 1,000km – a perfect way to add to Country Walking’s 1,000 Mile Challenge or one of Go Jauntly’s distance-based challenges

Train for a marathon or an ultra 

Training for a long-distance event? Why not explore your local Slow Ways at the same time?

Walk somewhere important

Pick a distant place that’s significant to you for some reason. It could be an hour, a day or a week away. Walk there! 

Walk two towns over

Walk not to your closest town, but the next one over again.

Connect two places in bite-size pieces

In 2022 David Sanderson walked from Brighton to New Brighton (Wallasey) using Slow Ways. David didn’t cover the 532km (330 miles) in one go. Instead he walked the 54 routes over lots of shorter trips, using public transport to make all his connections. Which two distant towns, cities or national landscapes could you walk between?

Pioneer a route

Many Slow Ways routes have not been walked, run or wheeled by anyone yet. While most routes people have suggested get positive reviews, we also know that roughly 1 in 4 have some kind of an issue. The first people to check a route are Slow Ways ‘pioneers’. These people are willing to be adventurous and problem-solve. If you use wheels to get about, you may be up for pioneering a route that has been surveyed and graded but nobody has wheeled yet. Will you pioneer a route in 2023? Your experience and review is such a service and kindness to the next person.

Bag as many Slow Ways as you can 

Did you know there are currently 6,693 Slow Ways and 8,582 routes? Bagging Slow Ways is a fantastic way to explore the country, discover new places and get to know a region. In 2022 lots of people have walked 25, 50 and even 100+ Slow Ways routes. Review each route and enjoy the key stats of what you’ve achieved on your profile page.

Walk your local Slow Ways web

A web consists of the Slow Ways between a town and all of its neighbouring towns, like spokes. Further routes also link those neighbouring towns to each other, like the wheel. Walking all these routes is a fantastic way to get to know your local area. Every town, city and village in our network has a web, ready and mapped. Take a look at this example for Bristol. Are they the best way to get from each place to the next? They need to be walked to find out!

Grow your web further!

Lots of Slow Ways volunteers who completed their local webs have gone on to explore beyond their local areas and are creating webs across their regions. Like walking 10-20km in a day? You may be surprised by how much ground you can cover when walking and piecing together Slow Ways over a few months. 

Hike (and sail) from Hugh Town to Haroldswick

Move over Land’s-End-to-John-o’Groats, hike from the Isles of Scilly to the north of Shetland instead! That’s about 2,000km (1,243 miles), with a chunk being at sea. Via Slow Ways the distance is divided across roughly 110 routes.

Hike (part of) the monster National Parks Trail

Imagine if there was a trail that went through all of Great Britain’s National Parks and many of our other great national landscapes! Wouldn’t that be an epic hike? That’s what we are working to create, with 250 Slow Ways routes that stretch for over 3,800 km (2,360 miles). Averaging 20km a day, the trail could be travelled in 200 days.

Combine your challenge with creativity or a cause

You might well want to simply enjoy walking a route (or fifty) without any fuss. But you might also want to combine your Slow Ways challenge with something creative. You could record or share your journeys through photography, words, film, sound or podcasts. You might also want to support an important cause through fundraising or a campaign.  

Wherever you go with Slow Ways, please do take the time to post a review for the people who follow in your footsteps. It’s these reviews and surveys that both shape and strengthen the network, giving other people confidence to use the routes that we are creating together. 

Dan Raven-Ellison
Dan Raven-Ellisonhttp://danravenellison.com
Dan is Slow Ways' Chief Exploration Officer and Founder. Dan's a Guerrilla Geographer, National Geographic Explorer and lives in Exeter.