Walk the Lines

We started walking the tube lines some years ago, after I read Mark Mason’s book Walk the Lines.

At that time I was doing long hours at work and on weekends I needed some exercise out in the open air to kick away the long stationary days.

We started well in 2014, knocking off three lines in one month – Victoria, Circle and Bakerloo. It took three walks to knock off the Northern line, and six for the Central line. In 2015 we did the Jubilee line over two long walks, and started on the District/Hammersmith&City lines.

There was a year gap from early 2015 to early 2016, when we started back with three walks on the District/Hammersmith&City lines and one walk each starting the Metropolitan and Piccadilly as well.

In 2017 I developed a foot problem and we did only one walk on the Metropolitan line. In late 2018 I was feeling well enough to test my foot out, and we finished the District line, the Waterloo&City and continued chipping away at the Piccadilly line. But since then, nothing, and here we are, already in the second half on 2019.

So when we find ourselves with a sunny and warm (but not too warm) day in August we are riding the Piccadilly line out to Acton Town station to start our first walk for 2019.

Having planned poorly (i.e. not at all), we started late, and having not had any breakfast, our first stop was for brunch at Jungles cafe opposite the station, where the food was hot but the coffee and toast were cold.

One thing you notice while walking in London is that the city really is just a conglomeration of villages. Each suburb has its own style, its own ethnic makeup. For instance, the first stations we passed – Ealing Common, North Ealing – were a Japanese area, with lots of Japanese and sushi restaurants. There were a lot of Art Deco buildings, including the beautiful Ealing Village, built in the 1930s.

Ealing Village

After North Acton, the architecture changed. Here we were in a Mock Tudor village of black and white houses. Pretty as they looked, they didn’t appeal to me as somewhere to live. I didn’t see a sign, but these looked like the kind of places where there was a strict “keep off the grass” policy.

The Mock Tudor village

Walking on and leaving the Mock Tudor village behind, we passed the flying saucer shaped Park Royal station, passed a closed down pub which had beautifully decorative columns outside, and down past Hanger Lane (home of the famous gyratory) where we got glimpses of the arch of Wembley Stadium. We have had glimpses of Wembley for many angles all over North London in our walks.

Park Royal station Lovely columns in a closed down pub. Wembley Arch in the distance

Emerging from the confusing underpasses under Hanger Lane, we turned off (passing another closed down pub) towardsAlperton station and we were suddenly in a very Indian part of town. I now know where I need to go to get colourful Ganesh statues.

The Plough pub – soon to be high rise apartments

Just in from Alperton we passed the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir. The beautifully carved temple was not too different from anything we’d seen in India.

Hindu temple in Alperton

Turning away from the colourful little India streets of Alperton, we made our way through some dull suburban housing to reach Sudbury Town Station. I was flagging at this point. We had been walking non stop for over two hours my feet were starting to hurt. Walking on hard paved city footpaths is hell on the feet.

At Sudbury Hill we stopped by a fruit store that also made smoothies. I had been thinking of stopping to get a soft drink but this was a much better option. One mango smoothie and fresh watermelon juice later, we felt refuelled and refreshed and power walked through the private estate road beside Orley Farm School.

Private road – but pedestrian access still possible

Emerging out the other side, we found ourselves approaching South Harrow station, and crossed the road to pass through South Harrow market under the arches of the tube line (running overground at this point) and past several other strange car mechanic businesses under further arches, before emerging from more boring suburban streets to Rayners Lane.

Here we found ourselves back in Art Deco again, as the Zoroastrian Centre was obviously an old cinema that had been converted.

Tired from what was almost four hours of walking with hardly any chance for a sit down, our first thought to have a drink at a pub to rest our feet before turning around to go home but this particular high street had no pub.

Well it had one pub, but it didn’t look like a pub we wanted to drink in. However if we wanted Indian street food cafes, this was the street to find them.

One thing you notice when you walk a tube line is that most of the stations were built at the same time, to a near identical design. This particular stretch of the Piccadilly line was very much in a 1920s/Art Deco style, reflecting a lot of the architecture we’d seen on our walk.

Acton Town station

Sudbury Town station

So without a celebratory drink, we hopped on a tube to roll back home.

In total, 21286 steps walked; 11.9 km (7.4 miles) covered.