A very warm welcome to “Peter’s Green Tube Walks”.
The aim of this site is to help you to:
– Use the London Underground railway network (i.e. the ‘tube’) as a gateway to the English countryside
– Explore footpaths and little-known byways where you may find fresh air, bird song and sunshine
– Walk for your health and happiness. The countryside is the best place to de-stress after a hard day in the city
– Let veteran hiker Peter Turner be your guide. Each walk is outlined by easy-to-follow instructions, and has been assessed for health and safety aspects as well as its suitability for people with reduced mobility
These walks are suitable for residents of London and visitors alike
All the routes I describe are on public rights of way, I don’t endorse walking on private property
No boots, maps or compasses are required on any of these walks, just a bag for your lunch and a drink (and a print-out of the instructions for the walk you have chosen.)
I hope you enjoy these walks as much as I did.
Hi, I’m Peter Turner and here are some more details about this blog and how it works. I’ve written “Peter’s Green Tube Walks” because I want to share my knowledge of London’s green spaces with you. (That’s a selfie I took in Regents Park on one of the walks.)
Ever since I was a kid I have liked walking in the countryside, either with family and friends or on my own. I enjoy the exercise, the birdsong and the sun on my face.
London is a superb base for exploring the countryside because of its excellent transport network. As a pensioner I find that it is also very cheap – with a senior rail card and a Freedom Pass I can get from North London to the North Downs for less than a cup of coffee.
I have limited this footpath guide to those paths accessible by tube, and there are literally dozens of them which I hope to visit and describe over the next couple of years.
It all started when a friend said to me “Why don’t you write a book of walks so other people can visit all the places you know?”
Well, a book of walks, or a blog in this case, needs a unique selling point, like it stops at pubs or tea shops on the way. I have two u.s.p.’s.
(1) Every walk starts and ends at a tube station. (For those of you living on Mars that means a station on the London Underground network!)
Occasionally a walk finishes at an overground station or a bus stop, but clear directions are given as to how to return to the nearest tube station.
(2) Every walk takes the needs of the less mobile into account. By that I mean a spectrum from reasonably fit pensioners like me to people in wheel chairs and babies in push-chairs/baby buggies.
This doesn’t mean the walks are not suitable for fit young people too.
Each walk has the following features included in its description to make it clear what’s involved, and to facilitate access:
Time it takes to walk the walk. It’ll probably take less in practice because I timed it while stopping to take photos, look at the map and write notes.
Distances are shown in miles and kilometres.
Pedometer reading. Some people use a step counter or pedometer to set themselves fitness targets like “I will walk 10,000 steps a day”. This is for their benefit. Of course my pace may not be the same length as yours, so don’t expect your final total to be identical, this is just to give you a rough idea.
[Downhills Park walking route, Haringey]
Refreshments. I carry my own: it’s cheaper; but if you do want to graze your way round the green belt, then this guide will help you do it!
Access: I hope this helps if you’re not very mobile, for whatever reason. I have not personally pushed either a wheel chair or a push chair round any of these walks, but have made a fairly good estimate, I hope, of potential problems. No way can a wheel chair get through a kissing gate or over a stile. You don’t have to be in one to realise that!
Toilets get more necessary as you get older… Using the bushes is all very well, but many of these walks are within sight of houses and roads at times. So I’ve mentioned all the WCs I found en route.
Surface doesn’t matter so much if you’ve got a comfortable pair of waterproof shoes on. (I get mine in T.K.Maxx clearance section for around £30 a pair). There are no crags or screes near to tube stations, unfortunately! So there’s no need for leather mountaineering boots. After rain the ground gets slippery, so whether it is mentioned in the individual walk page or not, play safe and take a stick. I use one of those collapsible ‘trekking poles’ that fits in my rucksack when I don’t need it.
Gradient. There are some steep bits. If they’re likely to be a problem for you, read the text of the walk first and if it sounds a bit tough choose a different flatter walk instead. Always check with your GP before undertaking unaccustomed exercise. If you’ve been given the green light, start with short walks first and build up to the longer ones later.
Benches can provide a welcome break. Somewhere to sit while you have your sandwiches. I never do even a short walk without a few breaks along the way. You get less tired that way.
Maps. I decided not to put maps or compass bearings in this blog. Get them on your mobile or tablet if you want them. The hope is that my written directions are so crystal clear and unambiguous that it would never occur to you to get a map out even if you had one in your pocket! Tell me I’m right! (When writing this blog I used a street map atlas that covers all of outer London, and Ordnance Survey Explorer maps with a scale of 1:25,000, that’s about 2½ inches to a mile – perfect!)
Buy on line (waterproofed versions are available) at Stanfords.co.uk, or from Stanfords’ map shop just off Long Lane in Covent Garden. Their new address is 7 Mercer Walk, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9FA, tel 020 7836 1321. They cost £8.99 each (October 2017 prices) and the following sheets will cover every path in this blog:
160 Windsor and Weybridge
161 London South
162 Greenwich and Gravesend
172 Chiltern Hills East
173 London North
174 Epping Forest and Lee Valley
175 Southend-on-Sea Basildon
181 Chiltern Hills North
182 St Albans & Hatfield
183 Chelmsford and The Rodings
(Total cost £89.90)
Gear. Nothing special is needed. Be sensible. I don’t need to tell you not to wear high heels. Wellies always chafe my feet, but some people love them. Being England, the weather can change, so bring a waterproof top and even rubber leggings. Put them in a small rucker with your sandwiches and water and mobile phone.
Volunteering. Where I have found them, I’ve given contact details for various local bodies who do voluntary maintenance work on the paths.
Liability. I have done risk assessments on these walks and have concluded they are all reasonably safe. Wear appropriate clothing, take some food and water with you as well as a mobile, and be careful not to trip over tree roots or slip in the mud. Tell someone where you have gone and what time you expect to arrive back home. It is recommended you take a map with you. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – start with short walks first before attempting a long one. If you are not fit, check with your GP before attempting unaccustomed exercise. I accept no liability of any kind – you undertake these rambles entirely at your own risk.
Proofreaders wanted. If you use one of these walk guides, please e-mail me and tell me if the directions were clear, and if they were weren’t I want to know too. My friend Geoff told me my directions for the Parkland Walk were not detailed enough in one place, so I’ve beefed that section up. Your help will be acknowledged in the form of a brief mention at the end of the relevant page. (like “Checked by Geoff, North London”). Unless you specify otherwise.
Water and Ice. The Lee Valley Park authorities issue the following advice which probably applies to all rivers lakes and ponds in the area covered by this blog:
“For your own safety we strongly advise against swimming. There are risks associated with using these waters:
Pollution: may contain traces of sewage, chemicals, heavy metals and oil;
Leptospirosis: through contact with urine;
Strong currents and deep water:
Cold water: hypothermia and cold shock.”
To which I would add ‘beware crumbly and slippery banks’, and ‘never walk or jump on ice.’
The Environment Agency request that we report ‘pollution incidents’ to them on 0800 80 70 60.
Finally, feel free to write in with any other comments and criticisms. This is an evolving work, and the more inputs there are the more useful it might turn out to be.
Find the paths and places less travelled.
I feel that everyone deserves a place to escape to; then we’ll all be getting more fresh air, exercise and sunshine. That is, after all, the ultimate aim of this blog.
See you out there!