diamond geezer

 Wednesday, December 21, 2016

  London borough walks

  (on London borough websites)

Walking is one of the easiest ways to make a journey - it costs nothing and it's good for your health too. So you might hope that London's boroughs would be encouraging their residents to head outside and enjoy all their area has offer on foot. Some nice long walks for people to follow, perhaps, past sites of interest or across scenic landscapes. If the boroughs don't do it, who else will?

So I've been scouring the websites of all 33 London boroughs to see what walks they have to recommend. I've hunted for trails to follow, leaflets to download, pdfs to print, all specific to the borough, all for free. Some borough websites have the lot, whereas others make little or no effort to encourage walkers to explore their leafy acres. I've awarded stars according to online route provision, and knocked up a league table of walk-friendly boroughs.

I first did this back in 2008, then again in 2010 and then again in 2012. Four years on, the majority of these borough websites have upgraded. A few have merely reorganised, breaking previous links. Others have substantially restructured, adding or pruning former pages, and making themselves a lot more mobile-friendly. And a depressing number have dumbed down, deleting all the interesting stuff and concentrating solely on council services.

So I thought I'd update my previous list, for those of you who fancy spending some time exploring your part of the city on foot. To name and shame (or praise and cheer), I've included any changes since 2012 in brackets.

Here's my borough by borough London guide to free downloadable walks. Who'll spur you outdoors for a bit of healthy leisure and heritage, and whose website teams still need a bit of a kick?

Umpteen professionally-produced downloadable walks (five star borough)
» Bromley (↑1): Bromley Common, Cray Riverway, Leaves Green, St Mary Cray, Farnborough, Nash, Petts Wood, Cudham, St Paul's Cray, Biggin Hill, Chelsfield, Berry's Green, Green Street Green, Three Commons; Crofton Park, Darrick and Newstead Woods, High Elms, Jubilee Country Park, Scadbury, Ravensbourne Trail, Darwin's Footsteps; Bromley North, Beckenham, Chislehurst

Several interesting downloadable walks (four star boroughs)
» Brent (↑4): Harlesden, Gladstone Park, Kensal Green, Sudbury, Wembley, Wembley 2, Welsh Harp, Kingsbury,
» City (↑1): Shakespeare, Roman London, Great Fire, Architecture, Dickens, Film locations, Tree Trail, Finance, City Visitor Trail
» Hackney: Lea, South, Canals, North, East, Hackney Marshes
» Hillingdon: Hillingdon Trail, Celandine route, Willow Tree Wander, Ruislip Woods, Uxbridge
» Kingston: Chessington, River Thames, Royal Kingston, Hogsmill, Richmond Park
» Merton: Beverley Brook Walk, Wandle Trail, Nelson Trail, Wimbledon & Mitcham heritage maps
» Southwark (↑3): Borough, Peckham, Canada Water, Walworth, Dulwich, Nunhead, Upper Sydenham
» Tower Hamlets: Bengali East End, Black history, Jewish Heritage, Isle of Dogs, Spitalfields, Wapping & Limehouse, East End Life walks
[click the borough, or click the walk]

One or more interesting walks, at least partly downloadable (three star boroughs)
» Barnet (↑1): Dollis Valley Greenwalk
» Bexley: Cray Riverway, Shuttle Riverway
» Ealing: Ealing, Northolt, Southall, Greenford
» Enfield (↑2): New Southgate, four WW1/WW2 walking trails
» Hammersmith & Fulham (↑2): ten short Walkwell walks
» Haringey: Better Haringey Trail, Hampstead Heath
» Hounslow (↑2) eight park walks
» Islington: Mildmay, Barnsbury, EC1, Clerkenwell
» Kensington & Chelsea: Chelsea walk

Incompletely described walks, or links to walks off-site (two star boroughs)
» Greenwich (↑1): links off-site
» Lewisham (↓1): Waterlink Way
» Redbridge (↓1): 10 walking routes
» Richmond (↓1): links off-site
» Waltham Forest (↑2): Six map-less trails
» Wandsworth (↑1): Two audio walks around Putney

A page telling you that walking is good for you and (maybe) where you might do it (one star boroughs)
Camden (↓3), Croydon, Harrow, Havering (↑1), Lambeth (↓3), Newham (↓2), Sutton

Nothing about walks or walking, because these websites are repositories of information about council services (no star boroughs)
Barking & Dagenham (↓1), Westminster (↓1)

Congratulations to Bromley, whose wide selection of top-notch walks has caused me to create a five star category for the first time. Obviously it helps having some of London's best countryside on your doorstep, but these are excellent rambling resources. Well done too to Brent, who are back in the four star list after an uncharacteristic plummet. The City of London and Southwark join them in this high ranking section, where there are some damned excellent leisure downloads throughout. Five boroughs climb up into the three star ranking, including Barnet who've generally been poor at this sort of thing before. Meanwhile Camden, Newham and Lambeth are on the list of shame, needlessly deleting several interesting walks because their online priorities have changed.

Maybe bookmark a few of these local walks and walking pages for when the weather gets better. Or try some soon - a lot are walks on tarmac rather than on mud, and getting out and about might just help you mitigate some festive excess.

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