All in all, lockdown is not exactly something we are happy about. No one likes to be trapped inside for several weeks, months even. It is pretty easy to get bored and if that was not enough, a lot of people are left without a job because of it. But sometimes you have to look at the positive side of things. That is exactly what geographer and explorer Dan Raven-Ellison did when he gave life to the ‘Slow Ways’-project. His aim? To put all the local British walkways on the map and to encourage people to walk their daily commute instead of taking the car.
“Historically, footpaths were created for walking to work, visiting relatives or trading, but many routes have been forgotten. We want to reimagine them for use today,” Raven-Ellison told The Guardian. “People walk for fun, of course, but we’re also interested in the idea of functional walks – walking to visit people often takes less time than you’d think.”
How to start mapping the footpaths of an entire country? Evidently, Dan could not do this on his own. Therefore, during lockdown, he gathered a team of 700 volunteers who together mapped no less than 7.500 routes. All in all, that is about 110.000 kilometers of walkways. All that information is now being bundled and will later on be tested by another set of volunteers. Once everything is sorted out, a website will give walkers an overview of all the different footpaths, which will hopefully encourage more people than ever before to leave their car at home and walk for a couple of kilometers a day instead. Or why not make a hike out of it? Whatever you do with the information, walking is not only good for the environment but for you mental health too. An issue that cannot be neglected, especially now that we are stuck at home.
2. Walking at home or a hike far away
“We have fantastic national trails and long-distance paths, but they tend to go from rural place to rural place, can be technically challenging, and often places to stay along them are expensive. A lot of circular countryside walks feature quite exclusive pubs, too. With Slow Ways you can easily plot triangular walks, staying at different towns or villages with options for all budgets – or you might just do a section and get a train back home”, as Raven-Ellison explained to The Guardian.
At the moment, the website has not gone live yet. If you are living in the United Kingdom and you want to help or if you want a bit more information about the project, you can have a look at the temporary website though.