Jubilation – and a circular challenge

May was not a good month for walking. I had two stretches of the Jubilee line planned, but was sadly thwarted twice – once by a stomach bug, and once by planned engineering works, which I should probably have checked out beforehand.

But June has been better, thankfully – last Saturday I managed 15.1 miles of the line, going from Stanmore to Green Park. 16 stations in total (though I’d already passed Green Park once), in glorious sunshine for the most part.

Starting at Stanmore is a really pleasant walk, passing through leafy suburbs and quiet streets for a fair few miles before you start to get into London proper. The walk out to Wembley is just beautiful, as it passes through a nature reserve that I didn’t know existed, and although it’s unpleasantly hilly for a little while the green grass and meadow more than make up for the incline.

I took a short pause at West Hammersmith for a sly half pint at the Railway pub (it seemed appropriate), and though I’d planned to only go as far as Bond Street, by the time I got there I still felt like I had a few miles left in me. But as I hit Green Park the rain started to fall in big fat drops, and I took the executive decision to head home before I got drenched.

It was a really great day – much more relaxed than the last one because I knew I could do it, and because there wasn’t the pressure to finish the whole thing completely that I’d felt with the Victoria Line.

This coming weekend I’m going to be walking again – this time with company. My mum is coming from Birmingham on Friday evening to spend the whole of Saturday walking the Circle Line. At this point we’re not sure how far we’ll get. We’re starting at Paddington and planning to walk at least the whole way round the circle – 27 stations, 16 miles, so with a couple of stops that should be fine.

Whether or not we do the extra leg to Hammersmith as well – another 9 stations and 5.7 miles – remains to be seen. Wish us luck – and if you can, please sponsor us!

Victoria Line, here I come

Momentarily alone (again) on the Victoria line by red_rooster82, on Flickr

It looks like a fine day tomorrow to walk the Victoria Line.

This is the first big one – end to end, 14.6 miles long, which I’m expecting to take more than 6 hours all told, once you include time spent sitting down half way through. I’ve packed bananas, chocolate, bulla bread and a very large amount of water for the trip.

I’ll be walking past 15 stations, from Walthamstow Central to Brixton, and the current plan is to stop somewhere near Kings Cross for some sort of food. The plan is to track my progress along the way using Instagram to take pictures of each station, checking in at Foursquare, and posting to Facebook and Tumblr. I’m also hoping to use Google Latitude to actually track my progress live. In theory, you’ll be able to follow me at this link and live on this map:



Wish me luck. Oh, and please sponsor me! I’m pretty sure that by 3pm tomorrow I’ll really, really need your support – and Mind need it whether or not I do.

The first line

So. I’ve been lax about posting here, but I’ve not been skimping on the training. I’ve started walking home from work – just over 6 miles in total, from Vauxhall to Tooting – a couple of times a week. On Tuesday I managed to work in some running too, running for 2.5 minutes at a time 12 times, which by my reckoning works out at half an hour.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never run for half an hour in my life before.

On Thursday I walked 7 miles from Vauxhall to Stratford – my god that’s a bleak walk towards the end, once you get the far side of Bow. All industrial buildings, building sites, the Olympic park squatting on your left and everything looking terribly Marie Celeste at gone 7pm. The nice thing from my perspective was that the walk went cross-Tubes, so I won’t be repeating it as part of the main event.

I’ve been gearing up for today, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a bit of an anti-climax. Today I’m doing the Waterloo & City line.

At just over 2 miles of walking, this should be an absolute breeze unless I somehow manage to fall in the Thames on the way. There are two stations, Waterloo and Bank. The current plan is to start after lunch at Waterloo and take a nice, leisurely stroll to Bank. Then, if I’m feeling particularly cocky, I might do it again backwards. Please note, this is not something I’ll be attempting on any of the other lines.

The nice thing about today, for all it’ll feel very easy after what I’ve been working on, is that I will be properly started at last. It’ll be one down, 10 to go, and I can say to folks who have yet to donate that at least it’s a work in progress.

And, of course, it’s all good practice for the Victoria Line, all 15 miles of which is planned for next Saturday…

Planning: the outline


One month in to the training programme, and already it’s started to make a real difference to my fitness. I’m up to running two whole minutes at a time – don’t laugh, this is a big deal for me – and with luck and perseverance I’m on track to finish the first major training stretch at the end of March. At that point, in theory, I’ll be able to run for 6 miles or so without stopping, and I’ll be starting to do endurance & strength training for my legs.

So between the end of March and the end of December, the Tube lines. There are 11 lines in total, and the plan is to walk as many as possible end-to-end in single days. But the sheer length of some lines means that’s not going to be possible – even if I’m fit enough to walk all day, some of them are 45 miles long. And some of the lines have multiple end points, and I’m still planning how to tackle them.

Here’s the plan – at least, as far as I’ve worked it out so far…

First, the Waterloo & City line – at about 2 miles long and with only 2 stations this should be by far the easiest, so it makes sense to me to do it first. So probably the first or second weekend in April will be the right time to start – and I’m going to be recruiting some walking buddies to come and do the easy one with me and help raise some cash.

The Victoria Line is relatively straightforward and not too horrendously long, coming in at just under 15 miles from Walthamstow Central to Brixton. Hopefully this will be the second walk, on the third or fourth weekend in April.

The Circle Line is actually not too bad, at 21.5 miles. Definitely a challenge, but I’m going to give it a go as a single-day walk – after all, if I get tired or can’t make it round in time, I can always hop on a Tube and head home, and finish it another day. Aiming to do this one in May, when it’s not too hot but the evenings are getting lighter.

The Jubilee Line is well over 47 miles and totally impossible to do in a day – I’m thinking of splitting it into three chunks of 15 miles or so each, and walking those in May and June.

The Bakerloo Line is a straightforward one that, at just under 18 miles, should be achievable in a day. The central London sections will be slow, but I reckon it should be possible to walk within 6 hours, so that’ll be a full Saturday in June.

The Hammersmith & City Line at about 21 miles should be another full Saturday’s walk, most likely in July.

The Piccadilly Line is unexpectedly huge – more than 35 miles even if you ignore the Uxbridge branch completely – so I’m splitting it into two or three chunks. Haven’t decided what I will do when yet, but most likely each will be 10-15 miles long, and will be completed during July and August.

The District Line is an absolute sod, what with having no less than 5 branch endings – but by the time I get to this one in August I’ll already have walked most of its length along the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines. I’m going to treat the remaining walk as Ealing Broadway to Wimbledon – possibly via Richmond depending on how fit I’m feeling and how long it takes.

The Metropolitan Line is another unexpectedly large one at 35 miles from Chesham to Aldgate station. I’m going to try and do this one in two chunks of about 17 miles each during September.

The Central Line is a tricky one, as it’s 45 miles long and goes right through central London. So the plan is to split it into 3 and walk it in chunks during October. Provisionally, the plan is to go Epping to Liverpool Street, West Ruislip to Notting Hill Gate, and finally Liverpool Street to Notting Hill Gate on Hallowe’en weekend dressed as a zombie, with as many zombie shuffling friends as I can manage to bring with me to do a street collection as we go.

Finally, the Northern Line – this is my home line at the moment, though I suppose by November it might not be any more. Still, it’s a long one – by my reckoning, 23.4 miles going from High Barnet to Morden via Charing Cross – and I reckon it should be possible to do in a day if I get a move on. So this will be the home stretch, sometime in November.

There are going to be various branch lines and bitty pieces that won’t get walked, under this plan – and I reckon that’s fine. I might try and fit in a few of the branches I haven’t mapped into the longer walks while I’m training, or in December when I’ve completed most of the map, or I might incorporate them into the challenge later on – or I might not do them.

This challenge is going to evolve and change as it goes on, but this is my basic blueprint for how it’s going to pan out.

My legs are going to be so sore…