It’s been a real struggle in a lot of ways, but brilliant in many more!

I’ll start with excuses, I think. But later on I’ll be honest too. I wanted to get far more done in 2012 but I think I can be happy with what I achieved. I seriously injured one of my legs twice, so that wiped out about 4 months of walking time. I got married and then honeymooned for three weeks. Not to mention the planning and preparation for the big day, AND my two stag dos. Then there were a great many family visits to my house. And finally, I also successfully completed a distance learning history degree which absorbed obscene numbers of weekends. That’s a lot of time swallowed.

Despite that I have completed this level of routes walked around London, all reachable by Oystercard:

Walking routes around London at the end of 2012

Click for a bigger look at 2012’s completed list.

 So that’s:

  • The entire South London stretch of the London Outer Orbital Path
  • All of the Capital Ring in South London
  • The Beck Corridor
  • The Waterlink Way
  • The North Downs Way from Merstham to Dorking
  • The Thames Path APART FROM PUTNEY TO KEW – how frustrating!
  • A Belgravia pub crawl
  • Brixton to Crystal Palace through parks and green spaces

Fact fans might like to hear:

The distance walked is approximately 179 miles (288 kms) in 19 separate walks.

My favourite section of any of the London ‘strategic walks’ is definitely the Capital Ring section 6 – Wimbledon Park to Richmond Bridge. My least favourite section is xxxx.

My favourite day’s walk will probably have to be the Thames Path from the Thames Barrier to Westminster. Whilst my least favourite might well be LOOP section 4 from West Wickham Common to Hamsey Green, and that’s despite one of the best views in the whole city.

The London Borough I walked through most often was Bromley.

Favourite area – The Thames between Kew Gardens and Teddington.

Least favourite – Deptford.

Best view – It’s hard to pip the view from LOOP section 4 but then section 5 delivers the view from Farthing Downs towards Croydon and then East London, this wins it for me. Partly because it is a lovely view but partly because it is the culmination of a really strong contender for the best walk I completed all year.The view from Farthing Downs of Upper Norwood, London, and Croydon towers

Best graffiti – The Hookah-smoking Caterpillar under a bridge along the Waterlink Way.

Alice In Wonderland graffiti along the Waterlink Way in Riverview Walk

Biggest surprise – The wood carvings in High Broom Wood along the Beck Corridor. Though the ones along the Green Chain in Marvels Wood are amazing too so they get a special mention.

Carving of Merlin in High Broom Wood, West Wickham

Biggest disappointment – Section 4 of the LOOP. As I mentioned before it was my least favourite section of the whole year and that would have to be because of some dodgy signage, littered paths, and some pretty uninspiringly-plain wooded stretches. I expected a lot from that section but it completely failed to deliver.

What will 2013 bring?

Now that I better understand my own body and its limitations I hope to avoid all that injury time I suffered in 2012. That’s going to really allow the miles to clock up quickly. I will, at the very least, complete these routes:

  • That piddling last bit of the Thames Path south bank between Kew and Putney
  • Lea Valley Walk
  • Jubilee Walkway
  • Green Chain
  • Jubilee Greenway
  • Wandle Trail
  • Thames Down Link
  • Vanguard Way
  • The north bank of the Thames Path in London
  • North Downs Way from Merstham to Otford (at least)
  • Farborough Circular Walk

That is only a lowly 221 miles for 2013 but hopefully it’ll just be the start. I reckon there are around 350 miles of walks in and around London that I can easily set myself on. Bearing in mind the trials and tribulations of 2012 I should be able to smash that into teeny tiny pieces!

But honestly

I could have squeezed more evening walking into my life. In fact I would quite like to make this change in 2013 because so far almost every walk has begun first thing in the morning. In the summer months there’s no reason at all why I can’t hack swathes of London off of my to-do list. I did pretty much all I could in terms of weekend walking but could have done more after work.

Lessons learned

So there you have it. A quick summary of 2012 and an idea of my priorities for next year. It’s not just about distances though. I learned a lot about myself too. The process of getting out there and simply enjoying places I’ve never seen before has lifted my spirits throughout the year. My lowest point came when I broke down in the middle of woodland on section 1 of the London LOOP but even that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for this pastime. I can’t wait to get out there and walk around the rest of this brilliant city.