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Monday, January 21, 2008

Walkin' By Myself

I think I'm turning into a walking bore. I have become obsessed by the fact that the easiest way to find your way around London is to walk. Taxis cost a fortune and spend most of their time waiting in traffic. Buses you have to wait for. Tubes take you out of your way. I often go from our office in Pentonville Road to Broadcasting House by just walking through Bloomsbury. I don't know exactly how long it takes. It's probably about forty minutes and the great thing about walking is that if you're late you go quicker and if you're early you dawdle a bit. Tell anybody at the BBC that you've walked and they look at you with new admiration. Recently I had to go to the Albert Hall from Islington via Covent Garden and I walked the whole way. I make that four miles, thanks to my new discovery Walkit, a site that provides you with pedestrian routes through the capital and tells you how far they are. I now calculate that I walk four miles a day getting back and forth to work. My smugness is complete.

11 comments:

  1. Good for you, David, and let's face it if you're going to walk through a city, then London's a pretty good choice!

    The buildings are, by and large, spectacular, and I love spotting blue plaques that I've never seen before.

    Walkit is great, isn't it? Google Maps also does something similar: although not as elegantly.

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  2. How funny, I have been doing exactly the same thing. On Friday, I walked from an interview in Shepherds Bush to a meeting in Wandsworth Town, a journey that would have taken me about an hour or so by tube and train, but instead took me one hour twenty – plus I got to wander through the beautiful side-streets of the Kings and Fulham Roads, alongside the impressive hulk of the Lots Road power station, and along the glamorous new Chelsea Harbour before heading over the river. Crossing the Thames on foot never fails to give the blood a bit of a rush.
    Then on Saturday, I walked from Lower Clapton to London Bridge through London Fields, Columbia Road flower market and Spitalfields. And I tell you this: every journey by foot for me only takes about 20 minutes extra. Every single bloody one of them is worth it.

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  3. Only since acquiring dogs did I realise how much I enjoy walking.

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  4. It's a real shame they've decided to implement this in Flash, with all the problems that brings to portable devices - ruining what would have been a dream application for a smart phone, or an iPod.

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  5. Thanks for the tip David - I see they also do Newcastle (well, that strange gestalt entity known as NewcastleGateshead) which is dead handy for me - and unlike google maps, does the sensible thing and takes a route down the steps to get to the Quayside.

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  6. I don't mind the bus, but the tube is just horrible. I regularly walk down through the city to london bridge for my train. Recently a fire at cannon street turned the power off for several streets and it was wonderfully weird and atmospheric walking through the darkened nightime streets. There's always something happening at st pauls too. As usual the french have a word for it Flaneur.

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  7. "I now calculate that I walk four miles a day getting back and forth to work. My smugness is complete."

    Next level: walking to and from the airport, like Will Self [podcast episode here].

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  8. I can't tell you how much I love that site.

    Brilliant find. Hats off to you sir!

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  9. I would recommend keeping a Rock locations book handy. Legendary and semi legendary locations are everywhere in the capital.,There are probably more notable Beatles sites in London than Liverpool - given they migrated south after 1963. Mark Lewishon did a Beatles London book a few years back which is excruciatingly thorough to the point of tracking down the bush from the 'Rubber Soul' cover.

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  10. In the aftermath of the July 7 bombings in London I decided to beat the terrorists by not travelling by Tube. I walked everywhere, and it was a fine time indeed, especially if I could take a route through St James' Park to see the ducks and pelicans. It was a hot summer, which made it all the more pleasant. Plus, I was denying Al-Qaeda the chance to kill me. Once you've started to walk everywhere, it's hard to stop. (Not literally, obviously)

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  11. It's quite pleasant to stroll some distance and one from Kentish Town to Maida Vale last summer was a good one. Nothing, compared to Will Self's Airport walks, which have taken in Heathrow to the centre of London and La Guardia to Manhattan.

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