Walking from Falmouth to London
People often ask whether it's possible to walk the route of The Trafalgar Way. Since the route commemorates a coach journey along turnpikes of old, most of which are now either busy trunk roads, single-track lanes or chaotic town centres, the answer is regretfully, 'No, not really, not safely'. Until now...
However, as of 2021, we have great news for walkers! There's no need to sit and painstakingly plot the entire length of the Way from Falmouth to central London using OS walking maps, because we have an alternative approach to suggest. Someone (or rather some people) has already done it for you!
Introducing Slow Ways
During lockdown 2020, a charitable organisation called Slow Ways was created, with the aim of creating a network of safe and mostly-offroad walking routes linking hundreds of towns and villages all around the UK. With a team of volunteers, the organisers behind Slow Ways set about researching which nodes could be linked using known footpaths and public rights of way and plotting them on a digital map interface. The purpose of the initiative is to remind people of the simple joy of walking from A to B. The routes are not circular. They are intended to replicate old trails and droves linking population centres in the same way that roads do today. This makes Slow Ways a great walking mirror for The Trafalgar Way, which also links population centres about 10 miles apart, but via road.
The resulting network of UK-wide footpaths is now in beta stage, and available for anyone to engage with. The benefits of Slow Ways are described as environmental, health, transport, economic and community benefits, and the initiative has received a great deal of coverage in the press and media.
How does this affect walkers considering exploring The Trafalgar Way?
We have been busy working out the closest fit of prescribed Slow Ways to The Trafalgar Way official route. As you are aware, The Trafalgar Way measures 271 miles along roads which map extremely accurately to the known coach journey of Lt Lapenotiere in 1805. Using Slow Ways' website, we have identified a Waylist of the most likely linked footpaths to enable a walker to get from Falmouth to central London. We can't match our coaching route exactly, there are some large detours: the overall distance is 361 miles, so the footpaths route is considerably longer than the road route. Eventually, we'd like to plot some sections which more closely hug our historic coach route, but for now, here is what we have.
We are open to suggestions for improvements!
- If you identify an existing Slow Ways segment that is a better fit than one of these, please let us know.
- If you would like to suggest better Slow Ways, or new connections between nodes, please contact Slow Ways themselves - they are very keen to build their community of testers and stock of identified safe walking routes.
How can you help or join in?
Slow Ways are still in the testing phase. They are seeking reviews of every single Slow Way in their network in order to verify those sections as safe and pleasant to travel. We would LOVE our Friends of The Trafalgar Way to have a go at trialling one or more sections along the Waylist!
All you have to do is
- register on the Slow Ways site (https://beta.slowways.org/register),
- inspect a route from our Waylist (https://beta.slowways.org/user/waylist/The%20Trafalgar%20Way/429)
- download the GPX for that Slow Way and load it to a walking or mapping app of your choice. Then leave a review on the Slow Ways site for that specific segment. You can also upload photos and give it a rating.
Once a Slow Way has been reviewed and approved sufficient times, it will become verified. You can also take part in deeper route surveys, adding the the fund of knowledge about route details, such as barriers and obstacles, features, gradients etc. Using crowdsourcing in this way, we can work with Slow Ways to 'prove' and improve all the sections which make up The Trafalgar Way. You can also join our Facebook group, Friends of The Trafalgar Way, if you would like to discuss our Slow Ways walking project and share your experiences, photos and tips for other walkers.
Have fun and stay safe!