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.



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