Length — 242km (walk completed 2016)
If the Capital Ring matches up with the North/South Circular, then the Loop is the walker’s M25. Much more rural in many areas than the Ring can be, the Loop strays beyond the London boundary at times. I particularly enjoyed the path through Hainault Forest, the area around Selsdon, and the northern fringe from Scratch Wood to Forty Hill, but there are more urban settings of interest — the canal from Cranford to Harefield, for instance. The Loop is at approximately the same radius as the Coal Tax boundaries of the 1860s, and several Coal Tax posts may be found en route. These posts form the basis of another Lwalk, the Coal Tax Circuit.
The gap between Purfleet and Erith may be sewn up by extending the riverside walk to Tilbury and Gravesend: there are challenges for those seeking sylvan beauty, but linking up with the ferry (and with Pocahontas) makes for a more satisfying circuit. Note that the ferry does not run on Sundays, nor on public holidays.
In most areas, there are plenty of options to use public transport, though in a few spots, you may need to be a little more careful (particularly on Sundays). If you are planning the entire circuit, it is a good idea to start by thinking of the longer sections, then subdividing the intervening bits to make your own best-fit days.
The London Loop’s TfL site delivers excellent maps and directions, but for extra information (and armchair reading), I also recommend walkers to buy The London Loop, by David Sharp and Colin Saunders (Aurum, 2017; ISBN 978-1781315613).
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