Completing the Ring around the Underground

Having set out from Upminster in January 2020, and having had a year’s break because of Covid, I have at last reached Upminster again.

Beam Valley Park

The final section, from Epping to Upminster, took three days to beat out: the first day ended at Stapleford Abbotts accompanied by stings, scratches, skin punctures, and rank agricultural waste from the knees south. Everyone was suddenly keen on social distancing on the Tube home that day! Back to the map, then back to Epping, with a new route via Abridge. Still challenging, but I arrived at Noak Hill with all limbs attached, and took a reviving pint before the bus/train/tube/bus trip home (almost three hours, and all within London). The last part from Noak Hill, which I had smugly pigeon-holed as “suburban”, had plenty to occupy me: in particular, a bridge was out and no directions for an alternative southbound route.

Uxbridge High Street

But that was just the final section: looking at all 22 sections, there was a diverse mix of suburbia and what would pass for wilderness in and around the capital. Throughout the urban stretches, there was always a park or a piece of woodland coming up. The rural sections in the north and north-east held diversity, from the Chess Valley (almost manicured in places) to the unshaven final section. The total came in just over 300km, with a little over 2700m of ascent (two Ben Nevis climbs and a couple of Hampstead Heaths thrown in). The sections which strayed into Hertfordshire and Essex need careful transport planning, as does any interaction with the 375 bus (one every 90 minutes six days a week) in Havering-atte-Bower.

Central Park, Harold Hill

The entire route is now written up — happy Tube-ringing!

Repurposed “tin tabernacle”, Chandler’s Cross, west of Watford

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