A Web of Footpaths Links Thousands of UK Towns

From the West Highland Way to the South West Coastal Path, Britain’s famous walking routes have something for everyone.

Now a new web of pathways has emerged. The network of 7,000 walking paths covers over 100,000km across the UK and connects 2,500 of Britain’s cities, towns, and villages.

The Slow Ways map. Image: beta.slowways.org


Daniel Raven-Ellison, a geographer and National Geographic Explorer, started the project. He had been pondering the idea for a year, and in the first three months of the UK’s lockdown, he created Slow Ways.

Raven-Ellison wants to encourage people to walk between the places they might otherwise drive to. By removing the need to plan intercity routes, he hopes that people will embrace a slower, greener, healthier way to travel. The project is also bringing life back to historic but forgotten walkways.

The South West Coastal Path. Photo: Shutterstock


Though Raven-Ellison began Slow Ways, it is by no means a solo endeavor. During the first lockdown, he put out a call to walkers across the UK. He wanted them to help create walking routes using online mapping tools.

Within a month, the project had 700 volunteers. “We had about a year’s worth of time volunteered in a single month,” Raven-Ellison told the BBC. “I couldn’t believe how many people signed up, and how much time they were willing to invest in the project.”

The volunteers used existing paths to map 7,000 Slow Ways. Every route logged by a walker added to the ever-growing Slow Ways map. By 2021, the project had over 80,000 volunteers. They are now walking, reviewing, and verifying all 100,000km of mapped walkways.

You can access the maps and route planner here.