Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Joys of Walking

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in years. I rediscovered the joys of walking. Normally, if I want to go anywhere in central London I jump in a cab or go on the tube (which I hate). But as my train was early yesterday, and it was a nice day, I walked from Charing Cross, through St James's Park to a meeting at Telegraph Towers in Buckingham Palace Road. After that was over I decided I'd walk to my next venue, up to Sloane Square, down the Kings' Road, up to Fulham Road and along to Stamford Bridge, where I watched Chelsea beat Liverpool. Ok, it's only three miles from Charing X to the Chelsea ground, but it's three miles more than I would normally walk!

So one of my new years' resolutions is to do a lot more walking. Even if I didn't want to, I'm going to have to as I have said I will take part in next year's Westminster Challenge charity fundraising event - which is a 100 mile walk along the Great Wall of China. Gulp.

28 comments:

tapestry said...

I hope you take that dog which Nick Clegg is feeding for you.

Anonymous said...

It's too early in the day for me... I read the title as "The Joys of Wanking"...

Anonymous said...

Anon-10.49-I see that it has affected your eyesight.

Newmania said...

Did you have a chauffeur driven car beghind you carrying your lap top ?

man not in a van said...

Walking is the best way to travel in London and in most towns. It astonishes me that anyone able-bodied considers any other mode for journeys under a couple of miles. Even if they're fractionally quicker they all involve far more stress. Join Living Streets' "Green Man" campaign to get the Mayor to include pedestrian lights on all traffic lights...

John said...

I decided to walk to Piccadilly circus from Victoria Station one morning instead of taking the tube to Green Park. It wasn't very nice. Buckingham Palace Road is ugly and the traffic is brutal. Negotiating one's way across to the Mall was dangerous. When you're on the Mall you're laughing though.

Chuck Unsworth said...

Iain,

If the Almighty had wanted us to walk he wouldn't have given us wheels.

grumpy granny said...

Do you not realise that all that extra CO2 you produced with all that huffing and puffing is having a deleterious effect on the climate?

tory boys never grow up said...

You don't need to go to Central London or the Great Wall of China - you live right in the middle of some fantastic walking country (liberally scattered with decent hostelries). You can see an awful lot that you would never see from a car - trust me.

Of course if you want to go on some real walks just look at the Striding Edge website on the LAke District.

Newmania said...

Had the almighty intended us to drive he would not have given us women

Diogenes said...

This map is quite handy for comparing walking to the Tube.

John M Ward said...

I am pleased you have re-discovered that which I for one have never lost!

I have never had a car (filthy primitive-tech things that they are!) and walk everywhere that I can, both here in Medway and upon arrival (by rail!) in London or wherever.

That is the way to see and "feel" places -- and I am admittedly more sensitive to the feel of places and communities than most -- rather than (for example) whizz past them in a metal-and-plastic box on wheels. It is real air out here, despite the pollution!

Walking down to the Civic Centre from here, I frequently notice something (perhaps a sound, a smell, or a movement) that catches my attention, and I wander off down an alley or side road to explore and investigate.

Once it was a foraging squirrel out side the Kings Prep' School, on another occasion it was a cooking smell in Priestfields (and I thus discovered the almshouses further down that road), and another time it was an inviting alleyway that took me behind the prison and to a playing field I didn't know was there -- and two new cat friends to make!

Life is wonderful, and being "out there and in it" is one of the very best ways to find that out for oneself. This applies just as much in the centre of London (though with a different emphasis) as it does here in Kent.

Wherever you happen to me, the message I would wish to impart is: enjoy it, just where you are right now.

Anonymous said...

Try the buses. Check your route with TFL before you go. They usually get you nearer to where you want to go than the Tube and there's none of that walking between lines when you change. They are fairly quick these days with less motor traffic in London. They are subject to delays by roadworks though.

You can check the scenery or have a kip.

It's not so easy to survey the totty also travelling though.

bj said...

I got a (pedal) bike this year and use it to go almost everywhere in London. I've also lost more than a stone in weight. I'm not suggesting you're fat, Iain, but cycling is the most fantastic thing I've started doing for ages.

John M Ward said...

I also agree with "bj" regarding cycling, and miss that myself as my eyesight is no longer good enough for me to cycle safely.

I used to go all over the place on my trusty two-wheeled steed, when I was younger and living near Wimbledon -- mostly up to London and beyond, but via various routes. I learned so much about places and how trhey link together.

People who meet me sometimes wonder why I am so happy and full of life, and one of the reasons has been the ability to get out there -- whether on foot or by pedal power -- and see real life on the streets and in the shops, down alleys and n front gardens, encountering people, communities and even cats.

Dull is he who has not experienced these real-world facets of life, and is instead constrained to the narrowness of outlook that modern-day life tends to inflict and almost enforce upon so many of us!

verity said...

Oh dear, a "charity" walk. It doesn't matter whether it's along the great wall of China, the ring road of Birmingham (if there is one) or the foothills of the Sierra Madre, why would anyone give a moneky's where anyone else goes for a walk? Or endurance test?

So what? I have never in my life given a penny to anyone undertaking a walk or a run or wearing a stupid outfit or sitting in a bath filled with something stupid. What is the bloody point? I've always maintained it's an ego thing. I loathe this kind of showing off.

I give to charities I want to support, regardless of people hanging from high wires, bungee jumping out of 747s or climbing Everest on their hands.

ex londoner said...

Good on you Iain. When I lived in London it was almost a secret pleasure of mine to link up places in the city. Say I had to get from Euston to my office near Bond St, I'd sometimes walk. Crossing town on trains, I'd devise routes between Paddington and Liverpool St for instance. There's so much to see - people and buildings - at every turn, I actually miss it now I've moved out to the relative sticks.

Elby the Beserk said...

Walking is the only way to see a city, for sure. Happily we live in the lush Somerset countryside so avoid cities like the plague. Everybody moves far too fast. I have a five mile walk every morning on account of having a dog which would walk all day and then all night. If you want to get fit, get a dog.

Anonymous said...

Here is a useful site that plots walking routes in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh:

walkit.com

It will plot 'less busy' routes away from main roads. For example, John at 11.55, the ideal route from Victoria to Piccadilly Circus is through St James's Park, and should take 19 minutes if you get on with it. The tube will take just as long, with the change at Green Park.

Anonymous said...

I wondered, loony as a cloud,
That thought t'would rain on Widder's parade
But over the hill twas writ well large
Out of t'reet Stone ye are not Maid.

Vienna Woods said...

In some areas of London you'd stand a fifty/fifty chance of being mugged twice on the way to the office!

Roger Evans said...

Iaian, there are some excellent walks in London if you want to get in shape for the Great Wall of China. Last year I completed the 78 mile Capital Ring, which goes right around the city, visiting interesting places like Highgate, Richmond and Crystal Palace - not for charity, just for fun and to get to know London. Next year I will be doing the 140 mile London Loop. On completion, you can get a certificate from Transport for London.

Alex said...

Verity,

For once I agree with every word in your post. I just don't understand the logic of sponsored runs, walks, skydives or 24-hour-stands-in-custard. I donate my fair share to charity. I also put on a fair number of fundraising events for good causes - the punters pay a fee and get a to hear a concert or go to a dance or a fair and get something for their money knowing that the profits go to the good cause. But the idea that we should pay contribute to a charity if and only if person X does thing Y, sounds pointess to me.

tachybaptus said...

Iain, welcome to the non-club of walkers. I walk at least 8 miles every day mostly in Central London, an unfading pleasure even on a foul midwinter day. I haven't had a car for the last 15 years and don't miss it.

In all the years I have been walking all over the capital, no one (touch wood) has tried to mug me, or even looked at me threateningly. Probably thanks to being oldish, tattily dressed and 6'3" with the determined stride of a seasoned pedestrian.

If you are going to make a habit of it -- as you should -- get some proper hiking boots. It is worth spending money on a really good pair: I have Meindl 'Borneo' boots which have leather linings and don't stink even after the hottest day, cost £129 and will last for years. Trainers are not really suitable for walking, and the smell, my dears ...

Always carry a tiny folding nylon raincoat and a naff woolly hat: better to look nerdish than to get soaked. An ordinary canvas shoulder bag will hold everything you need and doesn't look worth stealing. Try never to walk carrying anything in your hand, it disrupts the rhythm.

Leave your iPod at home. The landscape, rural or urban, is also a soundscape. This morning I crossed Kensington Gardens and saw and heard more than a dozen species of bird, all of which I would have missed if I had been in a dull trance listening to Meatloaf.

But the best part is the general effect on mood. However you feel when you set off, by the time you arrive you will feel cheered and alert, and patronisingly pitying of those poor creatures who have crawled in on the underground.

Johnny Norfolk said...

You will be wearing these silly coloured bands round your wrists next ( there shouild be a law against then.)Only the poppy is acceptable. Just make a donation instead of the showing off. Its just not British, more new labour.

Nathan Hale said...

Did you pay Red Ken's walking tax, sneaker tax, sidewalk cleaning tax, and pedestrian tax?

DiscoveredJoys said...

When I used to vist London on business I used to walk from St Pancras to most of my firm's London offices. I'd vary my route down the back streets and found many interesting areas and shops.

The biggest benefit was that the walk gave me chance to get my thoughts in order or sometimes just forget about the latest work problem for a while.

I'd also get an earlier train to give me that extra 30 mins/hour to get my walk in - with the additional advantage that if the train was delayed I could still make my meetings on time if I used the tube.

Now that I've taken early retirement I usually park up on the outskirts of my home town (for free) and walk into the centre. You really appreciate the volume of changes going on when you are walking.

verity said...

Johnny Norfolk has the ticket: next you'll be wearing coloured wristbands, as though that's going to do anything. There are men here (not women because women are not that stupid and also have a clearer concept of coorinating the outfit) wearing five different colours of wristband. Why?

This is a genuine question. How is wearing a tacky yellow wristband going to drive the universe forward? Four or five wristbands, I assume, are meant to show the wearer's commitment to a rainbow of lefty idiology.

And?