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.
My plan for the challenge is as follows:
- At the start of each month, take the tube and visit all stations on one line. I plan to write a very brief summary about each station and include them all in a blog post. This will take me to many parts of London I've heard about, but never visited.
- Later in the same month, spend some time walking the same tube line above ground between each station. I don't plan on walking more than about 20 miles in a day, because I've found that I don't get as much enjoyment out of walks that are any longer. However, this will mean that I'll have to walk some of the longer lines over several weekends.
I've debated the order in which I wanted to walk the lines, trying to decide between two obvious options. The first is to walk the lines as they were opened, but this is a bit complicated as most lines evolved into their current configuration over decades. The second option – the one I've chosen – is to walk the lines in order of length, starting with the shortest (Waterloo & City) and building up to the longest (Central).
Now, I'm certainly not the first to have walked the Tube lines in London. I originally got the idea from a friend who was inspired by Mark Moxon's Tubewalker blog. Then, just last year, Mark Mason published Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground. An entertaining and trivia filled account of his tube walking adventure.
I've already walked the Central Line from Ealing Broadway to Epping Forest (30+ miles), along with other several of the shorter lines, including the Circle and the Victoria lines (through a rare London snowstorm). However, as I mentioned above, I'm starting from square one, and this time, I hope to document the experience as a whole rather than doing disjointed walks here and there.
This challenge is obviously going to consume a large portion of my life over the next 12 months, but I hope you find it interesting and that you'll stick around to read all about it! And please donate to Bowel Cancer UK.
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