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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 19 March 2009, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Northwood Hills Station to Harefield (beginning of the third row).

Another A-Z walk, hot on the heels of the last one! This one was just to put me in the right position to begin the third row, which I will be walking from west to east.

[livejournal.com profile] hoshuteki and [livejournal.com profile] mjg59 came along on this one, and it was fun. We met in the William Jolle, once we'd sent each other SMSes and determined that we were all in fact in the pub, just in different parts of it — what did we do before mobile phones?

This one was pretty much all cross-country, apart from an initial short stretch on Pinner Road, which yielded little more exciting than a pub advertising “Xotic dancers”. It got more exciting once we were in the countryside though! We nearly went the wrong way at one point, but luckily we managed to figure out that the houses on our left were there not because they'd been omitted from the map, but because we were going north when we should have been going west.

We even saw horses! Oh, and there was mud, though not as much as last time. Then there was an exotic foreign bus, and finally Harefield itself, where the photographic challenge of the day was to get a shot of the pond (pictured) which included the ducks but excluded the several floating traffic cones.

And then there was a pub, and then another pub that had run out of both real ale and Guinness (and hence urged us to celebrate the "famous Carling St Patrick's Day" with them instead), and finally yet another pub that had both real ale and decent food. And then there was the 331 bus to Uxbridge Station, because Harefield has no station of its own.

The Flickr set is here, and the map so far is here.

Next up: Harefield to (probably) Pinner.

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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 13 March 2009, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Page 26 column C (Brookshill) to page 26 column A and beyond (Northwood Hills Station, eventually).

As mentioned, I put the A-Z walks on hold over the winter, since I'd reached a fairly rural area and I wanted to wait until the days were a bit longer so I could enjoy them properly. Anyway, I now declare it officially Spring in England, since I did the first A-Z walk of the year yesterday.

The previous walk ended at a bus stop on Brookshill, a little south of Harrow Weald Common, so that's where this one started, with a pleasant stroll across some farmland and down to the Uxbridge Road. Top marks to the landowners here — they'd put helpful signs wherever the route of the public footpath might have been in doubt.

An uneventful distance west along the Uxbridge Road next, with a stopoff to photograph Hatch End Station, and another to sample a half of beer in the Moon and Sixpence, and then a cutoff north onto a section of the London Loop, where I managed to fall over in the mud; luckily, after I'd got through Pinner Wood, I found a kind homeowner who let me borrow his garden hose to sluice myself off a bit.

I squelched my way down Pinner Hill and onto Joel Street, where I sneaked into the William Jolle, hiding my still-muddy bits, to meet [livejournal.com profile] amuchmoreexotic and [livejournal.com profile] mjg59. While we were enjoying the decent enough range of beers, I spotted a huge chunk of mud that I'd overlooked, so popped into the ladies' to wash my trousers off properly and dry them under the hand drier. There are now three Northwood Hills residents who've seen me in my knickers.

We followed this with a good dinner at Yummy Tai Chi, and a couple more pints (with accompanying Bollywood videos) at the Northwood Hills, and then headed back home on the Metropolitan Line.

At time of writing, Google is refusing to update its cache of the KML file showing the full route so far, but here's one showing yesterday's route alone, and here's the Flickr photoset.

Next up: I've officially finished the second row of the A-Z map now, but in order to keep a continuous line (and sample a couple of Good Beer Guide pubs) I'll be walking from Northwood Hills Station to Harefield.

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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 29 October 2008, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Gosh, it's been a while since I last posted about the A-Z walks. I'm still doing them, and still enjoying them, but have felt disinclined to post about them for fear of being boring — I don't find travel writing in general very interesting at all, and so have never bothered to try to become good at it.

I like maps, though. I've made a Google Map[0] of the route so far. I reckon it's reached that stage which is so pleasing in any project — the point where a ridiculous idea begins to look entirely plausible.

[0] OK, technically, I've made a KML file.

Today's walk was intended to be from Stanmore Station to Hatch End Station; unfortunately I got a bit lost while navigating the Bentley Priory Open Space, ran out of daylight, and decided the wisest thing was to cut it short. I'm now wondering if I should perhaps put these walks on hold until the days are longer again, since the next several are going to involve cross-country trekking, with all the associated getting-lost potential, and it's so dispiriting to have my fun cut short by dusk.

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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 23 March 2008, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Page 26 column K (Chingford Station) to page 37 column K (Chigwell Station).

So after an enormous break of over three months, I resumed the A-Z walks on Monday 17 March 2008. (One major reason for the hiatus was that I'd been doing a different kind of exploring — visiting a particular area and wandering around circularly rather than linearly. I did e.g. Brockley, Sydenham, and Ilford.) [livejournal.com profile] caramel_betty happened to have some leave days that needed taking, so he joined me on this one. This wasn't a "real" A-Z walk, but rather a "fill in" one to get me from the eastern edge of the top row to the eastern edge of the next row down.

We started out eastwards from Chingford Station, making a brief diversion to have a look at Queen Elizabeth's hunting lodge. This diversion set the tone for the rest of the first half of the walk; mud, mud, and more mud. We squelched our way along the edge of Chingford Plain, circled around where we thought the lodge was, then headed back roughly the way we'd come, separated from the lodge by a tall fence which resisted all attempts at peeking through. We eventually identified the lodge with the help of a sign; it turned out to be smaller and rather less impressive than one might expect, and completely dwarfed by the Harvester (?) pub next door.

What should have happened next was a nice stroll through some woodland to the Warren Wood pub. It seemed quite easy, especially as there's yet another section of the London Loop which should have led us right to it. Unfortunately we managed to end up heading in completely the wrong direction, and after a good deal more mud ended up pretty much due south of where we'd entered the woods, instead of due east. Personally, I blame the fact that it was too overcast to see the sun, and there were no satellite dishes handy, so I had no idea where south was. I promise to buy a compass at some point.

Anyway; we eventually stumbled on a landmark in the form of a lovely, lovely road sign. I looked it up on the map, cursed silently, apologised to [livejournal.com profile] caramel_betty, and led the way onwards to Buckhurst Hill, where my intention was to have a pint and some lunch in the Three Colts. It was, of course, closed. Plus it was about to rain.

Interweb-on-mobile-phone was employed, and we decided on a plan B of Rocky's, which sounded kind of awful but would at least provide shelter from the rain, and it was just down the road. Upon arrival, we learned that Rocky's had been renamed to the Players Lounge. This disturbed me somewhat, as it honestly did sound and look like it was some kind of swingers' club. Now I have nothing against swingers, but I did worry that it might be, well, rude to walk into a swingers' club with unbrushed hair, scruffy clothes, and mud up to one's armpits. Thankfully I was completely imagining everything. It was a perfectly fine place to drink, with surprisingly good service, and they even had Hoegaarden. (I do have a strong suspicion that it's the kind of place that's utterly, utterly grim in the evenings, mind.)

Rain evaded, Hoegaarden quaffed, and lunch eaten, we headed out again with renewed energy. Skipping blithely across the M11 (and past a minor car smash), we peeled off north onto Roding Lane. This proved to be a mistake, as the pavement ran out very quickly, meaning we had to walk on the road. As previously documented, I know how to walk safely on roads, but that doesn't mean I like it — and checking the map later revealed that had we continued along Chigwell Rise we could have rejoined the London Loop and walked along an actual footpath. Oh well.

At the end of Roding Lane we passed Chigwell School, noting in passing that while in my day kids used to hang around the edges of the school grounds to smoke a sneaky cigarette and actually have conversations, these days they seem more interested in sending text messages and ignoring everyone around them. So exactly like grown-ups in pubs, then.

Just past the school was Ye Olde Kings Head, an enormous Chef and Brewer pub where we had a couple of pints of Bombardier. This is the point at which my earlier warning to [livejournal.com profile] caramel_betty began to become true — after a certain point, every A-Z walk turns into a pub crawl. The Kings Head was followed by the King William IV (Timothy Taylor Landlord and a couple of decent enough pizzas), and then, for some reason, the King Edward VII in Stratford. I have no idea which of us decided that we should go drinking in Stratford, but it was an excellent decision. Despite a bit of wobbling on my part when we failed to immediately discover the pub, and memories of [livejournal.com profile] mstevens' stories of Stratford muggings began to resurface, the King Eddie turned out to be a hidden gem, a saving grace, an excellent way to round off the day. A pint of Nelson's Trafalgar, a pleasant and spacious seating area, and some interesting music just on the right side of "too loud" — and a food menu that looked plenty interesting enough to merit a return visit at some point.

See also: Google map of our route (no Flickr photoset as I only took photos of pubs, and you can see them by following the RGL links).

Next up: Chigwell Station westwards, probably ending up at Highams Park Station.
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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 1 December 2007, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Page 25 column F (Ponders End Station) to page 26 column K (Chingford Station, give or take).

It turned out that much of this was actually on the London Loop. Again.

My plan had been to walk around King George's Reservoir until I ran out of footpath. The walk along the reservoir was quite pleasant; there were trees and swans and amusing signs. However, when I rounded the top and prepared to walk back down the eastern edge, I found that the footpath that was clearly marked on my A-Z was blocked off with hazard tape. However! There was a very clear gravel path leading off vaguely northeastwards, and a sign proclaiming it to be the way to Chingford Station — three miles, which sounded about right. It all got rather organised-looking at this point; not just the nice gravel path, but benches every fifty yards and even picnic tables. This, it seems, was the bottom edge of Lea Valley Park.

About 500 m later, I reached Sewardstone Road. This was the part I hadn't been looking forward to, since it was basically a long trek down a main-ish road, and Google's satellite images had suggested that there wasn't much pavement involved. (My previous footpath plans would have had me coming out onto this road about a kilometre further south than I actually did.) I was momentarily cheered by seeing a sign for "Freddie's Free House", but it turned out that this was in fact an ex-pub, not a pub. I did see a foreign bus, though, and what seemed to be some kind of llama petting zoo. And of course ended up in a pub.

Flickr photoset.

Next up: I've actually finished the top row now, but I'm going to try to keep a continuous line, so I'm walking off-map from Chingford Station around to Chigwell Station. I had to purchase an extra map (from Stanfords) — it was very exciting.
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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 17 November 2007, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Page 23 column K (Enfield Town Station) to page 25 column F (Ponders End Station).

I have to admit that this one was pretty much just a pub crawl. [livejournal.com profile] caramel_betty, my expert on the area, had warned me that it would be “fairly uneventful”, so I decided to just pick a few reasonable-looking pubs from RGL and BitE and treat it as a beer-spotting expedition.

The eastern part of Enfield seems to be less McMullen-dense than parts further west; unfortunately this didn't mean more of a variety of real ale, but rather none at all. The Southbury at least had real Greene King IPA, but the Goat had only the nitrokeg version. I really should make more of an effort to switch to my Strongbow-swigging alter-ego in situations like this. Still, even that wouldn't have helped with the total utter deadness of both pubs. (Admittedly this is partly my fault for choosing a Monday afternoon for my visits. I mean, what kind of sad no-mates alky goes to pubs on her own on a Monday afternoon?)

Thankfully, the Wetherspoons Picture Palace came to the rescue. Lovely interior, excellent atmosphere, and there was a beer festival on. Marvellous.

Light for photography was generally vile, and almost everything I wanted to photograph had the sun behind it, but I managed to get a good shot of the terrifyingly-huge Enfield Cineworld. (That photo does not even begin to convey scale. Seriously, it's ginormous, and that's only the front third or so.)

Flickr photoset

Next up: From Ponders End station round the reservoir, finishing up in the Royal Oak for a pint and some dinner with any Enfield inhabitants I can persuade to join me, then home via Chingford Station.
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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 10 October 2007, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Page 22 column B (Oakwood Station) to page 23 column K (Enfield Town Station).

Did my second A-Z walk yesterday. The first one ended at Oakwood Station, which is reasonably convenient for me to get to, so that's where I started the second.

My original plan was to head pretty much straight across to Ponders End Station via a few pubs; but once I'd made a little Google map to help me figure out the route, I decided it would be silly to go all the way up there and not take the opportunity to wander around Trent Park. So I did. I got a bit lost, several times, due to entering the park slightly to the west of where I'd intended to, and to thinking that the line between Oakwood and Cockfosters points north, which it blatantly doesn't, and I knew it doesn't because I walked parallel to it the other week, sigh. But it wasn't particularly serious getting-lost, and I'm fairly sure I knew exactly where I was about half of the time. So far, so fun. (Squirrel count: approximately 15, all grey.)

Not wanting to have to retrace my footsteps at any point, or go in too obvious a circle, I'd decided that the best route would be straight up through the park, circle around the university campus, head up to Hadley Road, and then get back down to Enfield Road (and the Jolly Farmers pub for lunch) via this track marked here on streetmap. Now, my A-Z only marks the first and last thirds of this track, but streetmap definitely implies there's a way through. Still, when I got to Vicarage Farm there was no sign of footpath markings, and enquiry at the farm revealed only that there was "probably a way through to Oakwood down there, I think that's the way the police go, yes, just climb over that little fence".

Over the little fence was a field of uncut grass, with vague signs of previous pedestrians heading south; so I followed them. I quickly arrived at a tarmac track which led south ahead of me, but which obviously led back up to the farm in the other direction. At this point I realised that the people at the farm had probably misunderstood the direction I wanted to go in, since otherwise why would they have diverted me over the fence and through the grass? But I decided to press on and see where the track went.

It went on for a little way, then petered out, leaving me halfway along the edge of a field. I didn't really have much option other than to carry on walking along the sides of the fields in the same direction. I think I might have been trespassing at this point, though it could be argued that the people I'd spoken to earlier had given me permission. I'm quite sure I wasn't on a footpath, especially since I had to climb over a locked gate at the other end, when I finally did reach Enfield Road.

Although the main pub I wanted to visit was the Wonder, since it has an RGL entry by merit of being in the Good Beer Guide, it doesn't do food. Happily, Beer in the Evening came to the rescue, with the Jolly Farmers. A nice enough pub, decent food, real ale, and very friendly staff. Here I made the tactical error of ordering sausages and mash and attempting to finish it. This was silly because (a) I can never finish pub portions of sausage and mash; (b) I had a fair bit more walking to do; and (c) the pub has a very sensible policy of offering smaller portions of selected dishes, which I could easily have taken advantage of.

So the next part of the walk was rather slow, as I was digesting. It also wasn't very interesting — just streets of houses, basically, though I did divert in order to get a photo of Gordon Hill Station. By the time I got to the Wonder I was quite ready for another rest. Unfortunately I didn't feel very welcome there. I'd known in advance that it was going to be a bit of an old man's pub, which I'm quite fine with, and it may have been partly my own fault for asking to take a photo of the beer pumps, but I really did feel as though the landlady and the other customers were quite perplexed by my presence, and I had rather a feeling that I wasn't supposed to be there. So I didn't stay long, and I couldn't quite face the possibility of having the same experience in one of the other pubs I'd been planning to try out, so I cut the walk short and came home via Enfield Town Station.

There is a photoset on Flickr and a slightly noisy GPS trace on Google Maps (second half of the route only, alas, due to the app getting confused). I also sent a few SMSes to the KakeWalk Twitter account.

Next one should have been from Ponders End Station round the reservoir and home via Chingford Station, but I think instead it will be Enfield Town to Ponders End via some pubs. I didn't get a photo of Enfield Town yesterday, since it had roadworks in front. Hopefully that'll be over by time I get around to the next walk.
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Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 30 September 2007, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

Page 20 column A (the western edge of the known universe) to page 22 column B (Oakwood Station).

Did my first A-Z walk last Thursday. I couldn't have wished for a better start. Pages 20 and 21 (the first actual map pages) contain:

After a dim sum lunch at the New World with various components of London.pm, I headed up to High Barnet. The station's in column D of page 20, so not quite at the edge; this meant I had to head west for a bit before I could get started. The point which I deemed to be the beginning of the walk was the point where Galley Lane joins Wood Street; I took a photo of the sign (and of the pub that happened to be there), sent commemorative SMSes to Bec, Bob, doop, and Richard, and headed towards my first landmark, the Sebright Arms.

The Sebright Arms was on the agenda because it was in last year's Good Beer Guide, and hence got added to RGL when I was doing my auto-import of all GBG pubs. Sadly, it's not in it this year; I don't know why. Equally sadly, I didn't get there until 2:50pm, and it closes at 3pm on Thursdays, so I didn't go in. Never mind; the Olde Monken Holt (on the agenda for the exact same reason) was just a short walk away, so I headed over there for a pint (for review purposes, of course), and a bowl of chips (since I forgot to eat enough food at lunchtime).

From here on, the walk was pretty much entirely countryside. I was basically walking across Monken Hadley Common from west to east. There was a very very villagey bit, and then there was woodland. I stumbled on some London Loop signs at one point, and followed them for a while. Towards the end of the walk, and the afternoon, I started to see other walkers: a young couple, hand-in-hand; an older couple, with a car and a dog; another dog-walker, alone but for his dog.

The end of the common was marked by another pub — the Cock and Dragon, which I didn't go in (but should have, since it would have meant I missed rush hour later on). Cockfosters station was just a few minutes away; I walked past it, but decided to press on to Oakwood station, since it would get me onto the next page.

Cockfosters to Oakwood was the least enjoyable bit of the entire walk. I walked along Westpole Avenue, which is basically a long, straight, tedious suburban street. And my feet hurt, because they'd just spent 45 minutes walking on nice soft ground, and now I was expecting them to put up with hard pavements (and I need new boots). If I'd realised that this part would be so dull, I'd have stopped at Cockfosters and then started the next walk with a good wander around Trent Park.

But overall it was great! Next up, Oakwood to (probably) Ponders End.

There is a photoset on Flickr, and a (rather noisy) GPS trace on Google Maps, and I've also set up a Twitter account called KakeWalk, which you can subscribe to if you'd also like to get commemorative SMSes on future walks (I only sent them to people who I knew were interested in me and/or adventures this time round, but I'm happy to share with more people) when something interesting happens, or when I find myself in a pub that I plan to stay in for more than half an hour.

Incidentally, an interesting fact I discovered while deciding how to get home is that Green Park is actually slightly to the east of Cockfosters. You would never guess this from the Tube map.

kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
Note: This was originally posted on LiveJournal on 22 September 2007, then copied here and backdated. Old comments are there; please feel free to add new ones here.

OK, it is time to reveal what I've been up to since January.

I have been Tubewalking. I don't think anyone guessed what I was up to, even though there was a bit of a giveaway trail on Flickr and RGL. I did have a bit of a near miss when [livejournal.com profile] hoshuteki commented that some of my recent photos looked familiar because he'd been on a Tube walk in the area. Sorry for not being straight with you right there and then, but I really wanted to catch up with the official community before I actually told people what I was doing.

So, yeah. I caught up. I started walk 1 (Acton Town to Chiswick Park) on Friday 19 January this year, and finished walk 43 (Charing Cross to Embankment) this afternoon. The next walk is Chesham to Chalfont and Latimer, and unless something very very important gets in the way, I will be doing it with the [livejournal.com profile] tubewalkers on Sunday 30 September.

I kept notes on some of the walks, and even got as far as writing some of them up. For some of the walks, I took the scenic route; for others I took the route that intersected places that needed RGL photos; for still others I took the route that went past a good pub; and for the rest I just took the quickest route from start to finish. It has been an awful lot of fun, and I hope it's going to be even more fun when I'm walking the remaining 139 walks with everyone else.

This does mean that I'm going to want a new walking challenge to do on my own, since (a) I am an antisocial bugger really, and I like walking on my own, and (b) the official tubewalks don't happen as often as I like to walk. Happily, I have already figured one out.

I'm going to walk across the A-Z. All of it. The regular size, not the mini one. Every page.

This will involve crossing London ten times, for a minimum mileage of around 225 miles. I think that should keep me busy for a while.


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