Historical Archives of the First Circumnavigation of London

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First Circumnavigation of London

This was a series of walks done, IIRC, in about 2001/2002. The idea was I would take a train out to the last station in zone two, then walk round to the outermost zone two station on the next line. So dividing the walk into a series of a couple of dozen stages round London. some only a few hundred metres (I tended to go on little excursions in that case) the longest being only a few hours walk, so they could be fitted in to an evening after work (followed by a quick pint in whichever local pub seemed nicest), or a Sunday afternoon stroll and still be back in time for the 6.30 service.

It started by taking the first train up to town from Lewisham (which went, not surprisingly, to London Bridge) then getting on the first tube train out of town, which took me to Willesden Green. So the first walk was something like Willesden Green to Kensal Green, the next Kensal Green to Kensal Rise and so on anti-clockwise (in tune with the natural rotation of the earth, the solar system, and the galaxy 🙂 ) until I found myself back there a year or more later.

The pattern of walks tends to break down in the southern part, Herne Hill to Brockley is a longer stage than I wanted to do, and goes almost entirely through streets I have walked all over before, so I diverted down through Dulwich for variety. And it also breaks down in the downriver section where you need to go all the way to Woolwich to cross the river on foot and the stage ran (before the DLR extension) from Greenwich to Silvertown because you aren’t supposed to walk through the Blackwall tunnel. Though I walked past both ends of it.

Not that I would want to walk through the Blackwall tunnel. I’ve both walked and cycled through the Rotherhithe tunnel and its not recommended for the asthmatic and bronchitic. Or anyone remotely scared of playing with traffic. Its a bit like being trapped in a smelly dirty hole in the ground with a couple of hundred cars and a few dozen big diesel lorries, all belching fumes. In fact it IS being trapped in a smelly dirty hole in the ground with a couple of hundred cars and a few dozen big diesel lorries, all belching fumes. Its worse on the bike. You can’t use the narrow walkway so you have to share the road with the motors. And its a lot longer than it looks on the surface (I have no idea where it goes under the river but it certainly isn’t straight across ), and whichever way you go the second half is continually uphill for about half a mile, straining your lungs while being forced to cycle in the path of the motor vehicles whose drivers are getting angrier and angrier.

Anyway, like I said, time to buy a new book and set off for new journeys. The map books are all coloured now, which is fine for almost every likely use EXCEPT marking where you went by filling in streets with yellow pens. It was all so much simpler when you could still buy a black and white A to Z.