diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Westfield Wander
[1½ miles]
Estimated time (30 mins - 6 hours)

London's population would be healthier if they took more exercise, but couch potatoes aren't easily persuaded to go hiking through the countryside or follow a waymarked riverside trail. So this new walking initiative aims to entice Londoners onto their feet within a familiar landscape - Stratford's Westfield shopping centre - by following a simple one and a half mile route that never retraces its steps. Download the app, follow the simple directions and enjoy a healthy workout while you shop.

1. Your Westfield Wander begins outside the rear exit from Stratford station, a convenient spot easily accessed from across the capital. Taxi and Uber dropoffs are also available. Now would be the ideal time for a final cigarette, but please stand out of the way in the designated area. A great deal of wildlife can be seen from this point, including preening parents, courting couples and tribes of younglings.
Enter the lower level of the shopping centre through the doors ahead of you. At Starbucks, bear right.

2. Continue around the gentle curve of the Lower Ground Floor. Try not to be overly tempted by the sight of Greggs on the right hand side, as even a vegan sausage roll could cancel out all the benefits of your upcoming walk. Toilets are available by following the footpath immediately before Boots, but ladies should expect to queue. There will be another opportunity to subscribe to Sky television later in the walk so try not to linger now.
Immediately before the Food Court ride the escalator up to Ground Floor. Alternatively you may change levels within Primark.

3. Welcome to The Gallery, Westfield's central hub. Recharging points for smartphones are available here, should you already have run down your battery uploading the amazing local sights to social media. Turn away from the main atrium and follow the trackway between the jewellers and the hip clothing stores. You may pass either side of the frozen yoghurt concession. Continue to the screen of doors, perhaps pressing the button for automatic opening to prevent unnecessary exertion, and return to the outside world.
Continue straight ahead into Chestnut Plaza, keeping to the left of Santa's Grotto.

4. Several of your favourite restaurants can be found here on Chestnut Plaza, as well as empty units which used to be your favourite restaurants until they closed down. Do not venture inside The Cow because it is only pretending to be a pub, it is not really one. Across the road you will be able to see the Aquatics Centre and the Olympic Stadium, but nobody would want to walk around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park because it has no shops, so turn round urgently and go back.
Retrace your steps to The Street and turn left.

5. Whatever the weather, The Street's hastily added glass roof will protect you from the elements. Pause to admire the single tree growing outside Sofa Workshop and its accompanying tubs of shrubbery. Rest assured that there is no need to venture inside IKEA because it's not a proper one, just a collection point with a few items of furniture in the window. Ahead is a clock-free junction of paths called Four Dials. Try not to be dazzled by the Hewlett Packard advert playing on the enormous screen above Caffè Concerto.
Keep straight ahead, following the line of drain across the piazza, and re-enter the building.

6. You are about to step inside John Lewis, one of Westfield's anchor buildings. Take your time to explore its crystal glassware, its cosy bedlinen, its festive gift selection and its never knowingly undersold electrical goods. Perhaps peruse the designer womenswear, try out some home cinema options, compare prices on cookware or take advantage of the in-store brow bar. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you end up at the front of the fragrance department once you've finished.
Alternatively take the escalator direct to the first floor with none of this browsing faff.

7. It's now time to follow the upper mall for its entire length. Enjoy your elevated walk and the opportunities provided to look down over the entire retail landscape. Sights to watch out for include the entirely empty champagne bar, the queue of people waiting patiently outside the Apple Store for their device to be rebooted and the immaculately made-up agent hoping to spray you with a dash of scent. Should you become lost at any point, simply tell security officers that you're following the Westfield Wander and they will put you back on track.
At the end of the mall descend one floor through Marks and Spencer (but not two floors to the Food Hall).

8. The second half of The Street awaits your pleasure. Enjoy yourself by trying to identify which businesses were here when Westfield opened in 2011 and which are the third or fourth attempts at trading economically within these peripheral units. It may be possible to engage in some table tennis or extra-big chess, but only if the necessary equipment has been made available.
On reaching the Armani crossroads, turn right and re-re-enter the building.

9. Ascend two sets of escalators and make a complete circuit of the upper food court. Imagine you have the complete family with you and are trying to find somewhere to stop for a meal that suits all tastes. Do not let the big yellow taxi outside TGI Fridays tempt you inside. Remember that the nearest Giraffe is now in Spitalfields. The doorman outside the casino looks angry for a reason. After a full circuit ride back down to the first floor. Do not search for HMV, it has closed. Instead walk amongst the lowlier dining tables until you reach The Arena.
Change levels again by taking two sets of escalators down into the lowest depths.

10. Double back towards Argos. You may or may not be able to walk past the Lego store without deviating for bricks. A small playground is available should any smaller members of your walking group be unable to proceed further without distraction. If you have enjoyed today's Westfield Wander, Foyles bookshop has a Maps section where you will be able discover real walks in the outside world. Great Eastern Market is not a proper market, but do not try telling any of the traders this because they already know.
On reaching Waitrose double back up the first set of escalators. It is only a short climb.

11. For the final leg of your Westfield Wander, follow the mid-level mall for its entire length. Observe how the landscape evolves from high end fashion to designer footwear as you proceed. If you are beginning to flag, accept the free pretzel sample when it is offered. Your destination will come into view as you pass the Disney Store. Continue until you have passed through the final set of doors and reached the front of M&S, where the Westfield Wander terminates. Congratulations, you have walked at least a mile and a half, which only goes to confirm the hypnotic power of being distracted by shopping.
To return to your starting point, descend via the escalators to the station entrance. Alternatively you may prefer to continue across the footbridge to the old shopping centre where you can connect to our separate walk, The Stratford Drag.

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