Buckingham Palace, just one of the sights you can see along the Victoria line.
Amazingly enough the day of my Victoria line walk happens to be another sunny Saturday in September. I've decided walk the line in the reverse order from the station visits – Walthamstow Central to Brixton this time. Walking north to south is a deliberate decision; psychologically, it feels like you're going downhill.
I set off out of the station at full speed along Selborne Road, passing an Asda and a passed out drunk, then walk parallel to Walthamstow High Street, where you can find Walthamstow Market – Europe's longest daily outdoor market.
Walthamstow Central Station, the start of my walk
I decide against my normal better judgement to cut over to the High Street. Normally I avoid crowds whenever I can. I love living in big cities, except for having to deal with all the other people.
Given that London has few sunny and warm weekends, especially in September, most Londoners make the most of them when they do happen. I, on the other hand, chose to ride the tube from Brixton to Walthamstow Central along the Victoria line.
The Victoria line is an interesting one for a few reasons: it was the first deep level underground line to be built across central London since 1907, it is the longest line entirely underground (at least for the travelling public), and almost every station has tiled artwork relating to the station itself, or the surrounding area.
I visited each of the 16 stations on the line over the course of approximately 3 hours on the very sunny 8th of September. Here are my impressions and a random fact about each station:
Huge London Underground roundel at Brixton station and tiled artwork at platform level playing on the "brick" part of the name.
Impressions: Brixton is among the more interesting areas of London. It has reputation for being somewhat dodgy and dangerous, but in my opinion this view is increasingly outdated. While Brixton remains at present a mixed area, all signs point to rapid gentrification. The most noticeable feature about Brixton station, to my mind, is the huge London Underground roundel over the entrance. It was also extremely busy on the day I visited.
Random Fact: Brixton station opened in 1971, 3 years after the first section of the Victoria line. Tweet This
The entrance to Stockwell Station and the bizarre dazzle inspired tiled artwork at platform level.
Impressions: If Brixton is one of the most interesting areas of London, Stockwell feels like one of the most bland. Stockwell station is one of the ugliest stations on the whole network. The view is not much improved once you leave, as you're immediately thrust onto busy Clapham Road. The one interesting thing I did notice about the station is that there is no up escalator from the northbound Victoria line platform. I guess not many people go from Brixton to Stockwell by tube. It was also far less busy than Brixton.
The Waterloo & City line is the amuse bouche of my 11 course tube challenge. The line itself is both the youngest* and shortest on the network. At only 1.5 miles (2.5 km) long and consisting of just two stations (Waterloo and Bank), I was able to walk the whole thing in about a half hour. A nice easy start.
However, everything did not quite go according to plan. The original idea was to both ride and walk the line on the same day. I set off on a beautiful sunny Sunday (Aug. 19th, 2012) walking to Waterloo from South Ken. Normally the Waterloo & City Line is closed on Sundays. However, Transport for London (TFL) moved to a 7 day a week schedule for the line during Olympics.
I naively assumed that this applied to the whole period from the opening ceremonies of the Olympics to the closing ceremonies of the Paralympics. Even TFL's website seemed to indicate the line was going to be open. So I was somewhat surprised to find the whole thing shut down. Really not a big deal, but it meant I had to make a separate trip a few days later to ride the train.
Bank station was the end point for my Waterloo & City line walk, the first of the 11 lines to be walked as part of the Tube Challenge. At this point it means 2 stations down and 268 to go. This will be the first of 5 total visits to the Bank/Monument complex - the only other station I'll pass through more often will be King's Cross St. Pancras.
Random fact about Bank station - It wasn't until 1940 that the Waterloo and City line platforms were renamed to Bank. Prior to that date the line had terminated at "City" Station, hence the name Waterloo & City line.
London Waterloo Station was the first station on my Tube Challenge and this was the first photo I took of the station. At this point 1 down 269 more to go. I will pass through this station twice more during the challenge.
My favourite piece of trivia about the station is the fact that Waterloo used to be the terminus for the Eurostar (subsequently moved to St. Pancras Station). This meant that French passengers had to disembark at a station named in honour of the battle where Napoleon was defeated. Not exactly the symbol of European unity.
That's right, I'm taking on the Tube! Specifically, my goal over the next 12 months is to visit every London Underground station and to walk all the Tube lines above ground. Given that there are 11 underground lines, my aim is to complete about one a month.
This also leaves me with a bit of extra time in case I need it. I've walked several of the Tube lines before, but since turning 30 last month, I've decided to walk them all systemically. Walking the Tube is a great way to see London and to discover how each community fits together. Coincidentally, the timing of this challenge will overlap with the 150th anniversary of the Tube on 10 January, 2013.
The idea was conceived of as a personal challenge, but I thought it would be a wasted opportunity not to raise money for charity. So, I've set a goal of raising £16,013 for Bowel Cancer UK. The number represents £1 for each person who died from bowel cancers in the UK in 2010.
I chose this charity because of a family history with the disease; my Scottish paternal grandmother died of colorectal cancer in her 40s, long before I ever had a chance to meet her. Walking and exercise in general are good ways to prevent bowel and other types of cancers. You can learn more about bowel cancer – including who is at risk, symptoms, where to get screenings, and more – from the Bowel Cancer UK website here.