What the World's Longest Pub Crawl Looks Like on a Map

A team of mathematicians has calculated the shortest possible route between 24,727 pubs across the UK. Who said maths wasn't cool?
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
October 24, 2016, 1:59pm
Image courtesy University of Waterloo.

Pub crawls may not bring to mind numerical equations or careful calculations, but it seems there could be a mathematical formula for the perfect stumble between boozers. Working for two years, a group of mathematicians has figured out the shortest possible route for visiting 24,727 pubs across the UK.

Using every boozer listed on Pubs Galore, a forum that reviews British drinking holes, mathematicians led by Professor William Cook from Canada's University of Waterloo set out to answer the so-called "travelling salesman problem," which plots the shortest route between different locations before returning to the original starting point.

READ MORE: What Happens When You Let Your Phone Take You on a Bar Crawl

The 45,495-kilometre tour takes in each pub on the website (which, as the Guardian points out, ends up being longer than the circumference of the Earth) and marks it out on an interactive map. A red balloon shows the spot of each boozer, while a blue line connects each one. The pub crawl route is circular, so you could, theoretically, begin your night with a casual pint at one pub and end up back there—nearly 25,000 boozers later—for a nightcap.

And who said maths wasn't cool?

The interactive map plotting the shortest route between 24,727 pubs across the UK. Image courtesy University of Waterloo.

The mathematicians claim the average distance between each pub is an hour, while the longest is a 50-hour trip from the Sango Sands Oasis pub in Durness to the Bells But, and Ben in Shetland. They did point out, though, that this journey includes two ferry rides, on which beer would probably be provided.

But before start plotting your evening's drinking plan, it might be worth noting that the mathematicians say their map isn't intended for real-world use.

Instead, Cook explains that the project is a "means for developing and testing general-purpose optimisation methods, which have wide applications in science, industry, and commerce. We did not set out to improve the lot of a wandering pub aficionado."

Maybe just stick with Yelp, then.