Full Circle

Yesterday, my mum and I somehow managed the entire Circle line – all 21.7 miles of it, even the extra bit out to Hammersmith. In 10 hours we covered the best part of 23 miles, including stoppages and slightly getting lost, and we made it to the end damp, utterly knackered but in excellent spirits.

We arrived at Paddington at about 9.15am and set off round the circle. We’d decided to do the circular bit first so that we could decide whether or not to continue on the extra leg, and we wanted to come up Queensway at the end of the circle, so we hit Edgware Road next.

This is a genuinely fantastic walk – going through central London and past some amazing landmarks. Walking from Kings Cross to Farringdon is the longest stretch in the first half, and probably the most boring, except for one moment when you crest a slight hill and suddenly see St Paul’s and the Shard on the skyline in the distance.

Everything went fairly well until we decided to cut through Liverpool Street Station from the back entrance by the enormous bronze sculpture. We came out the front and went left instead of straight on, and ended up doing two sides of a triangle and walking past Aldgate from the wrong direction.

We were amazingly lucky with the weather for the most part. One intense downpour hit just as we were eating sausage and bacon sandwiches in the Embankment Cafe, but apart from that we made it round to Paddington only slightly showered upon.

We weren’t quite so lucky after we decided to carry on. We had a half pint in the Dickens Tavern before we took on the last 5.7 miles from Paddington to Hammersmith. I’m glad we did, because I didn’t feel like I’d really pushed myself when we got round the circle – but goodness me the last three miles were extremely hard work.

We had to hide in a florist near Ladbroke Grove, and when another really intense downpour struck we were in the wide open near Shepherd’s Bush. We ended up huddled under a bus shelter, and I was seriously considering packing it in. But thankfully the rain held off and the sun came out a little as we did the final stretch.

Infuriatingly, we went past at least 5 stations that weren’t on the Circle Line and therefore didn’t count. For the record, I’ve walked past Shepherd’s Bush, Regents Park, Aldgate East, Euston and Marylebone, and probably at least a couple of others. Big day. All that for 35 stations – 32 of them new, putting me over 50 stations for the first time.

If I was doing it again, I’d definitely reverse the order and do the extra 6 miles first – Hammersmith to Paddington is definitely the least interesting part of the walk, and I think it’d be much easier and more morale-boosting to be completing the circle at the end.

I hadn’t realised till I started properly planning this walk that the Hammersmith and City line follows the exact same path as the Circle line around this stretch, and only has a (relatively) small branch that splits off to go north-east. So I’ve decided to count yesterday’s walk as 2/3 of the Hammersmith and City line as well. Because it’s my crazy plan so I can. So there.

Thank you to everyone who’s donated so far – and most of all thank you to my mum, without whom I would never have gotten to Hammersmith.

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 top rated online generic pharmacy 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!