I walked to work on Monday. I know, I’m as shocked as you that I actually did it.
Here’s my route:
Google says 3 hours and 9 minutes to complete. I say 2 hours and 40 minutes.
I was planning to set off at 6, but as it was I woke up at 4:15. Very very awake. So I took at as I sign that I should get out of bed. And I did. As usual I listened to a bit of the old iTunes while getting ready. It’s always on random but it was as if iTunes knew what I was about to do. First song up: Jesus Walks by Kanye West. I thought that was cool. 2nd song was Rambling through the Avenues of Time by Flight of the Conchords. I was ready to go. It was 5:40.
And dang, I haven’t been out that early and in the dark for a while. It was really quiet. Yes, very quiet the whole 4 minutes until I hit the high street.
Early, still dark.
The roads were fairly quiet. My high road is one of the main roads, if not THE main road to London from the south (sussex and Brighton), so to see it quiet is not normal. North I headed and hit the next train station Streatham at 6:01. This is a walk I do pretty regularly as my local is very close to the station. Did I say walk? More of a crawl from here to my house. The next station Streatham Hill I hit at 6:17. At this point I way trying to decide whether Streatham is worse in the dark as it’s all deserted or if it’s worse in the day when you can see how crap it is. I just mean the high street. It needs some help. Probably some more nice big trees would help it stop looking so unfriendly.
Oh and at 6:05 I started sweating. I thought it was going to be much colder out, so I was well bundled. It was at this point I had to undo my scarf and open my jacket.
It took a while to get to Brixton from here, crossing over the South Circular and heading down Brixton Hill. I was trying to remember if I ever walked to Brixton before. The answer is no. I’ve cycled quite a few times, but never walk. It is about 3 miles away so not without reason. In fact, I normally take the bus there. It was here in Brixton where I had to look at a map to remember which way to go. Luckily I didn’t need to pack a map as there are helpful map signs across London.
Now, which way do I go again?
It was the only place I needed a map along the journey. I knew where I was going, but I was not sure which road I needed to turn down to get me there the quickest. Very helpful these signs are. My arrival in Brixton was at 6:48. I thought I may be making pretty good time, but it was hard to judge. Brixton was also the first place along my journey where the London underground came.
From here it was a short 13 minute walk to Stockwell. By this time the sun began to light up the sky a bit. I checked sunrise before I left the house and le Google said it was at 7:35 or so. It was nice to see the sun’s rays beginning to show.
The sun begins to light a Monday morning in Stockwell.
I was trying to make it to the river by sunrise as I thought that might be nice. As I only had a half hour I thought I better kick it into gear. My next stop was Vauxhall at 7:18. Vauxhall is always busy as it’s a tube station, a train station and a major bus hub. And it’s right next to the river. It took another 6 minutes to maneuver all the crossing, all the while dodging bikes, scooters and cars which seemed to all be doing illegal movements on the highway. Luckily I made it unscathed.
Hey kids there’s the London Eye!
Arriving at the river, just to the East of Vauxhall allowed me the lovely view of the Houses of Parliament. On a side note, it was Vauxhall where 2 of my co-workers and myself met this summer on the “Walk to Work Day.” I remember meeting there at 7:30 and arriving just after 9, so I knew I was making alright time to get to work on time. This time I was also going a more direct route.
The tide is high as the morning arrives in London
From here I was really enjoying the walk. If you have to walk to work, the South Bank of the Thames in Central London is not a bad place to be. And by this time, 7:24, the city was well awake. Lots of cyclists, people running, shops opening and many others scurrying around trying to get where they needed to be.
Houses of Parliament
It was somewhere around the London Eye when my feet started hurting. I was 2 hours into my walk and I had shoes which were well worn and not the best choice in foot ware for walking this far. My main concern was blisters. I didn’t want to get blisters right before going on a holiday where I’d be walking extensively. Luckily I stayed blister free. So 2 hours in I got to the London Eye.
It’s a nice area to walk through when it’s not jammed with tourists. The street cleaner was rocking through cleaning everything up before the throngs of foreigners arrive. I thought I’d be a tourist and take a picture of myself at the eye. I look old and ridiculous. That’s what happens when you get up at 4:15 I suppose.
Retouched on iPhoto for your enjoyment as the photo was very dark.
The sun was well on it’s way up as I headed East along the river towards Waterloo Bridge. And walking along this stretch of the river is one of my favorite things about this city. Waterloo Bridge is also the bridge I cycle over everyday. So from there I was roughly tracing my normal commute. Really I couldn’t have planned it better because the sun finally made it’s way over the buildings when I was nearly over Waterloo Bridge.
First glimmer of the ball of fire.
One thing walking does is make you soak in all that’s around you. It was a great sunrise. But had it been any other day I would have seen a couple seconds of it on my commute in and thought “yeah that’s nice,” and gone back to focusing on not being run over. But having walked I had time to appreciate the view. And I’ll always remember this as the day I walked to work. It will stand out in my memory.
I arrived on the north side of the river at 7:52, which is about 15-20 minutes earlier than I normally am at this point. I headed up Aldwych and Kingsway. At 7:59 I arrived in the LBC.
That bit of brick across the road separates the boroughs of Camden and Westminster.
I headed up Kingsway and into Holborn and Bloomsbury. I kind of forgot to mark down times of arrival as most of my brain thought I was already where I needed to be. Fail.
The sun’s rays reach the Brunswick Plane.
And finally at 7:20, well ahead of schedule I arrived at St. Pancras. I was so chuffed that the weather was so nice for the walk into work. A bit chilly, but not much. By the time I got north of the river my gloves were off, my scarf was off and all my jackets were unzipped. I was sweating.
You have arrived at your destination.
In total it took 2 hours and 4 minutes. That’s nearly a half hour ahead of schedule. Not too shabby. I was a bit sleepy and hungry when I got into work, but overall I felt great. I was very relaxed. Much more relaxed than when I arrive by bike. An hour or two later though I started stiffening up. My cycle ride home was fine, but today I was very sore and felt tight in my gluts all day. Who knew walking was such a good work out!?
The walk was great and I hope to do it again sometime soon as well as the reverse walk. Some company would be good as well. I think the biggest thing I got out of the walk was to keep things weird. Do something out of your normal routine sometimes. Make a memory or an event. You never know what you’ll glean from the experience. Me: I got sore butt muscles and strange looks from people at work when I told them what I did. Plus I got to see London wake up, which was something I’ll never forget. The walk also set me on the right mental path for the week. I have felt great so far and I think that will last into the weekend when I go away.
Any ways, my bed is calling. I hope you all give walking to work a shot sometime. Let me know how it is. Take care everyone and have a nice Thanksgiving (for you Americans out there).