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The Freedom Of The Redways

The Freedom of the Redways

While Milton Keynes is often seen as the city of the car, the planners didn’t forget about pedestrians and cyclists and the result was the Redway network. We have over 200 miles of paths dedicated to walking and cycling, covering most of the city estates with some extending out to connect to the older towns like Stony Stratford. Punctuated at intervals by bright yellow bollards, the Redways are generally three metres wide with a red tarmac surface.

Redways were intended to show for the first time on a city-wide scale how travel for pedestrians and cyclists can be made convenient, safe, and pleasant.

An original plan for Redways proposed a secondary grid throughout the new town, passing through the centres of estates and bisecting the primary grid of main roads. The corners of estates would also be linked to those adjacent. In practice this strategy has hardly ever been implemented. Instead, most of the original Redways were constructed as a maze of largely indirect local paths, which need to be linked for the purpose of making through journeys and most of locals used them as a leisure facility rather than as a serious transport system.

Complaints about the indirectness of paths, and recognition of the increasing number of cyclists who preferred to use the grid roads, led to the introduction of cross-city Redways in the late 1980s, which generally run alongside the main roads. Another trend since the mid-80s is the routing of most other Redways alongside estate roads. This is largely in response to public fears about using more isolated paths, but has led to significant problems of its own, particularly as cyclists here encounter many more crossings of side roads and driveways than a cyclist using the estate road itself.

A network of 13 Super Routes criss-cross the city creating direct routes for cycle commuters. These routes closely follow the grid roads and link residential areas to key destinations such as employment areas, train stations and CMK.

In ordinary times I think the Redways are brilliant, not least for the variety. They pass through residential areas, industrial areas, passing shops, taking you through parks, winding past rivers, lakes and through woodland. You see sides of MK that you would never see from the road.

But as things stand, I’d go further and say they’ve been a bit of a sanity saver in recent months. Regular readers will know that we love walking. This area is very heavy clay and when it gets saturated (as it has been for some months) the ground takes forever to dry out. So, walking across the fields has been impossible until quite recently (unless, of course, you don’t mind taking a mud bath).

The Redways allowed us to get some daily air and exercise even in the worst weather when all rugged up, we sallied forth. It was with slightly gritted teeth at times, but sally forth we did.

spring flowers

Now that spring has sprung, we’re seeing a little nature along the way. The hawthorns which line many of our walks are looking beautifully soft and demure, belying their underlying thorns. A galaxy of daisies and violets – both white and purple – grow in the grass along Watling Street and cowslips can be seen against the warehouses of Kiln Farm. We’ve even seen butterflies crossing the paths on some of our warmer days. At this time of year, we are also surrounded by daffodils. I think the original planners must have got them at heavily discounted prices back in the 70s because there are whole armies of them across Milton Keynes, radiating charm and cheerfulness.

A complete map of the Redway network can be seen on an interactive map or you can download the Redway Map in full.

Stony Stratford is a wonderful place to escape to for staycation or work! If you’re thinking of staying in Milton Keynes and you want somewhere characterful, historically fascinating, and tranquil, with some fascinating city walking thrown in, do get in touch.

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