diamond geezer

 Thursday, July 23, 2020

It's now been four months since the UK entered lockdown...
...and during that time I haven't ventured more than three miles from home.

I'm aware there's nothing stopping me. Travel's never been restricted, and last week the PM gave the nod to everyone moving around more freely. But I haven't needed to go anywhere, so have chosen not to, and have instead focused on exploring the area within easy walking distance of home.

I wondered whether any of you are still staying in, around or close to home.
Here's a special comments box. comments
» Only use it if you've ventured less than five miles from home since lockdown started
» Don't use it if your comment is "almost, but there was this one time when..."
» All other comments in the main box below, thanks.
When I asked in mid-May, approximately half of you said you'd travelled less than 5 miles from home since mid-March. I suspect there are rather fewer micro-travellers today.

This isn't meant to be a saintliness competition. Some people have had no choice but to stay at home for four months, while others have been travelling long distances for a wide variety of reasons, chief of which has been "because we can".

In case you were wondering, yes, the size of my quarantine box has increased.



After 50 days of lockdown it was two and a half miles deep and one mile wide.
It's now five miles deep and three and a half miles wide.
That's a sevenfold increase in area... River Thames permitting.



The furthest north I've been is the top of Hackney Marshes.
That's up by the pylons, close to Friends Bridge and the Middlesex Filter beds. Hackney Marshes are a grand place for a walk, or a jog, or the walking of multiple dogs, and blessed with plenty of space for keeping well away from other people. It was glorious yesterday (and indeed the day before).

The furthest west I've been is the western end of Victoria Park.
I walk round Victoria Park a lot, it being an excellent traffic-free greenspace and because one circuit takes the best part of an hour. Of all my compass points, west is the one I've been to the most. But west is also the compass direction I've ventured least far in, specifically no more than 1½ miles from home (which is not even as far as Bethnal Green).

The furthest south I've been is Millwall Dock on the Isle of Dogs.
Last month I walked all the way round Millwall Dock, so the far end of the strange inlet with the berthing posts nobody uses is the furthest south I've been. If only the wooden arched footbridge across the entrance was sturdy and accessible I'd have crossed that, but it's impractically ornamental so I had to divert all the way round.

The furthest east I've been is Thames Barrier Park.
The hedgerow swooshes across the centre of the park are looking particularly splendid at the moment. It helps that the builders have finally removed their compound from the fountains, having finished erecting four blocks of flats on the former station car park. This is also the furthest I've been from home in four weeks, at 2.98 miles (I didn't walk across to the barrier because that would have been 3.02).



This map confirms that I haven't properly circumnavigated all of my lockdown box, but I have nudged up against a substantial part of it. The jagged grey zone has an area of 30 square kilometres, or 12 square miles, which has been plenty good enough to keep me occupied for the last four months. In total I've walked more than 600 miles since lockdown started, all of it within this tightly constrained area, so I've actually been keeping myself fitter than usual.

As for the three-miles-from-home limit, which is the red circle, I've barely brushed up against that yet. I should probably break out of my existing box and explore the inside of the circle instead, which would get me as far as East Ham, Lea Bridge and (more importantly) the City of London. This'd open up a more extensive chunk of London, all of it easily reachable on foot from home, and all without the need to swipe any Oysters.

I recognise that these are ridiculous restrictions to enforce on my movements when I could just get on a train and go to Margate. I recognise that you'd likely do things differently, and probably already have. But at this extraordinary time I find I'm enjoying living in a small but fascinating corner of London and learning even more about it. Even within three miles of home there is still absolutely bloody loads to write about.


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