Welcome to my tubewalking FAQ. If you have a question about my walk that isn't answered here, feel free to ask it in my Guestbook and I'll do my best to help.
- Why walk the Tube when there's a whole world of gorgeous landscapes out there?
- Were you the first person to walk the Tube?
- Did you walk every single part of the Tube network?
- Why did you walk the Tube?
- What gear did you take?
- Did you do the walk for charity?
Because I love it! Over the past few years I've been walking the London Loop and Capital Ring, a day at a time, and when I finished the last day of the Ring, I realised just how much I'd enjoyed them. Sure, the countryside is glorious for walking and it's hard to beat, but urban walking has its charms, particularly in the nation's capital. I remember one particular day of the Loop – the walk from Kingston to Donkey Wood – which starts off in the home of royalty, and wends its way through middle class suburbia to the earthier world of the Heathrow flight path. Along the way the newspapers in people's recycling boxes morph from the Times and Telegraph, through the Daily Mail and The Guardian to The Star and The Sun, and as an education in the class system it's a perfect day. You don't get that sort of experience in the countryside, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Actually, I wasn't. The first person I know about who walked the Tube was Neil Johan from the London Photo Project, who finished walking the Tube in , just days before I started my own tubewalk. We independently had the idea of walking the Tube around the same time, in late 2007, but we took different approaches: Neil set off straight away and made up his route as he walked, while I planned every step of the way before setting out. For details on other tubewalkers, check out my page of useful links.
I managed to walk every part of the Tube that is publicly accessible. The only station that isn't physically accessible on foot is Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3, which is bang in the middle of Heathrow Airport, at the end of a tunnel under the runway that is out of bounds for pedestrians. Instead of walking all the way to the station, I walked as close as I was allowed, and then I hopped on a public bus for the last part through the tunnel under the runway (I talked to BAA, and they understandably don't allow pedestrians to walk under the runway, so the bus is the next best thing). Apart from that, I visited every station on every line, on foot and above ground.
Because it sounded like fun (and it turned out I was right)! I love walking around London and I spend hours of my life bumping along on the Tube, and it seemed perfectly logical to combine the two. It turned out to be a masterstroke, as I've now seen more of London than I ever would normally, and it's given me a completely different outlook. It's an incredible city, it really is.
I travelled as lightly as possible – it made a nice change from the heavy pack I dragged from Land's End to John o'Groats! I walked the urban parts in trainers, and reserved my walking boots for the countryside, but I didn't need half as much gear as I would for a proper walk in the country. You can see a list of everything I took on the What to Take page.
I did indeed, and I managed to raise over £1700 for the Cure Parkinson's Trust. Last year, my mum was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which came as a bit of a shock. Knowledge is power, however, and my brother managed to procure what was effectively a dummy's guide to the disease, written by people who actually have Parkinson's. This little gem came from a friend of my brother's, Tom Isaacs, who is one of the most inspirational people I know, and it's because of him that I used my tubewalk to raise money for the Cure Parkinson's Trust.
Tom was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1996, at the tender age of 27, but this obviously hasn't stopped him. Since 1999 he's raised over £400,000 for Parkinson's Disease Society research projects, including £40,000 from a walk from John o'Groats to Land's End. Clearly this was just a warm-up, because from to , Tom walked 4500 miles around the coastline of Britain, climbing the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales on the way, and raising not only money but awareness of Parkinson's disease, through more than 190 interviews and walking with more than 40 MPs, nine Mayors, and 16 celebrities. He was runner up in the GMTV/Daily Mirror Fundraiser of the Year Award 2004 and was the UK's Charity Personality of the Year in 2005. Tom's book about his walk, Shake Well Before Use, was published on .
Tom is now Managing Director of Movers and Shakers, a group of high profile individuals with Parkinson's disease who form the fundraising arm of the Cure Parkinson's Trust. The Trust itself forms the research side of the organisation, channelling funds directly and quickly into projects, hosting research forums and disseminating the results from these meetings.
If you would like to donate something to the Trust, no matter how small, you can do so on my fundraising page. Anything you can spare will be greatly appreciated by people like my mum... and people like me. Thanks for listening.