The Dutch walkers’ organisation, Wandelnet, has started devising routes from central points of their towns and cities (usually the main railway station) out to points on the outskirts which link to the national network of footpaths. I decided to explore the same idea for London. Of course, London is much bigger than, say, Amersfoort, so these walks are longer than their Dutch equivalents. Like the Dutch routes, though, they are designed to be joined at intermediate points close to home.
There is a radial route for each of the eight main points of the compass running out of London, but of course I ended up with nine routes: the eastward direction has one route on each side of the broadening Thames (but these two may be linked using the ferry between Tilbury and Gravesend). Each route starts at Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
The routes have now been worked out, written up, and placed on this site, but I always have my eye on one or two variations which may improve the experience. As the routes are walked and re-walked, the documentation will be uploaded and linked from the home page for the relevant route.
The destinations and skeleton routes are given below. Including both Sevenoaks alternatives, this brings the total distance to a touch less than 550km — the equivalent of walking from Trafalgar Square to the Scottish border at Marshall Meadows, north of Berwick-upon-Tweed … or, in the opposite direction, to Metz. The total ascent is a shade short of 5300m, just a few rocks less than four Ben Nevis climbs from Fort William.
You are encouraged to read the introduction to the routes first: it gives overall recommendations and explains the conventions in the main texts.
The maps (linked from the individual walk pages) will show on a plain map; subscribers to OSMaps Online (a no-brainer investment for any walker) will be able to see the route on proper OS maps at 1:50000 and 1:25000 scales.
East (north of the Thames) — Southend-on-Sea (97.87km; 483.9m ascent)
Via Tower of London, Limehouse Cut, Three Mills, Beckton, Dagenham, Elm Park, South Ockendon, Chadwell St Mary, Tilbury, Coalhouse Fort, Corringham, Pitsea, Benfleet and Leigh-on-Sea.
North-east — Epping (36.29km; 333.5m ascent)
Via Aldwych, Smithfield, Hoxton, Stratford, Wanstead Flats, Snaresbrook and Chingford.
North — Hatfield (46.73km; 505.3m ascent)
Via Angel, Clissold Park, Finsbury Park, Highgate, Mill Hill, Barnet and South Mimms.
North-west — Hemel Hempstead (51.46km; 622.7m ascent)
Via Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath, Welsh Harp, Barn Hill, Harrow Hill, Pinner, Oxhey Woods, Cassiobury Park and Kings Langley.
West — Maidenhead (60.74km; 355.5m ascent)
Via Hyde Park, Holland Park, Ravenscourt Park, Gunnersbury Park, Boston Manor, West Drayton, Iver, Langley Park, Stoke Poges, Burnham Beeches and Cookham.
South-west — Guildford (60.65km; 484.2m ascent)
Via St James’s Park, Battersea Park, Clapham Common, Wimbledon Common, New Malden, Hogsmill Valley, Ashtead Common, Leatherhead, Effingham Junction, Clandon and the Wey Navigation.
South — Gatwick (61.72km; 891.3m ascent)
Via Parliament Square, Kennington Park, Brockwell Park, Dulwich, Penge, South Norwood, Lloyd Park, Sanderstead, Coulsdon Common, Merstham, South Nutfield, Outwood and Smallfield.
South-east — Sevenoaks (50.82km with 675.9m ascent, or 51.28km with 596.1m ascent via Darent Valley alternative conclusion)
Via Elephant and Castle, Burgess Park, Peckham Rye, Honor Oak Park, Beckenham Place Park, Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Farnborough, Knockholt Pound, Dunton Green and Riverhead.
Darent Valley alternative conclusion (26.75km; 337.3m ascent)
From Chislehurst via Swanley, Lullingstone, Otford, Dunton Green and Riverhead.
East (south of the Thames) — Gravesend (51.80km; 599.5m ascent)
Via Hungerford Bridge, Bermondsey, Southwark Park, Deptford, Greenwich Observatory, Oxleas Wood, Welling, Old Bexley, Joyden’s Wood, Sutton-at-Hone, Southfleet and Rosherville.
I have now started developing a route to link all of these endpoints in a huge loop around the Home Counties. This is a work in progress, called the Circumcardinal Walk.
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