I wanted to share the final stats with you about the project before I start talking about some of the other things that came out of the walks (mainly because it gives me an excuse to play with a big spreadsheet). I also threw in a little Q&A session for some of the most commonly asked questions I get about the walks.
At the end of the post, there is a video I put together for you too. It is not the fanciest thing you’ll ever watch, but it was quite exciting to see it all come together.
So Here We Go!
It seems fitting to start with all the totals because they look huge and impressive…
- Total distance walked: 399.80 miles
- Total distance on Thames Clipper: 3.84 miles
- Total distance if I cheat and add those two together so I break the 400-mile mark: 403.64
- Total number of walks: 65
- Total walking time: 175 hours : 37 minutes
- Total word count on blog: 64, 487 words
In the category of Longest/Shortest we have:
- Shortest walk: Day 17 – 2.32 miles
- Longest walk: Day 60 – 13.62 miles
- Shortest post: Day 18 – 385 words
- Longest post: Day 33 – 1,940 words
And for the averages:
- Average distance walked each day: 5.95 miles
- Average time for a walk: 2 hours : 40 minutes
- Average walking speed: 2.29 miles an hour
- Average post length: 1,217 words
Lastly, there are a few posts I didn’t get around to for reasons which you can read about here. I still intend to write them (I have lots of notes and pictures and things, and I tend to remember the walks pretty well), so I thought I’d give you a list of what they are so you don’t think you have missed something if you decide to read the entire archive (which a few people have done, much to my heart’s joy). The missing days are: 13, 32, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41.
Quick Summary of FAQs
There are also a few questions I get asked regularly so I thought I’d do a little Q&A session for you:
What was your favourite street?
This is by far the most common question and the hardest for me to answer. I saw thousands of streets and choosing a favourite is impossible. The ones I liked most, though, tend to follow a theme: they hide just a street or two away from the highest-traffic areas, but you pass by them daily without knowing they are dying to be explored. A few examples are Gibbons Rent, Brown Hart Gardens, Chiltern Street and Lancashire Court.
What is the strangest things you saw?
I also struggle to answer this question because it is pretty relative. If you’ve lived in London a while, you find that it takes a lot to make you stop and think, “Did that really just happen?” Bizarre occurrences are fairly normal here (past examples being swarms of oompa loompas taking over a pub, giant pillow fights in Trafalgar Square and the ridiculous things people wear during Fashion Week), so there are things I might have seen and didn’t think of as strange at all, but that would have been a crazy experience for a visitor. A couple that come to mind are: watching a man run out of a building with a paper bag on fire, and sharing the Queen’s birthday with Wonder Woman.
What were the highlights of the experience?
These were not the things I would expect them to be. I thought that the last steps across Tower Bridge would send me into a euphoric frenzy. They didn’t. I thought that every day I would find some incredible gem that I could share with the world to change everyone’s whole London experience forever. I didn’t.
The highlights came from some very small joys I experienced along the way, like watching the seasons change by being out every day to see the small differences, talking at length with strangers I met on the streets and sharing our mutual love of walking in London, having a picnic for lunch pretty much every day in one of the innumerable green spots around the city, and allowing myself to be a kid and follow my curiosity through the streets.
I also had some highlights from some pretty big places that were completely unexpected. The two you know about already are the article in the Londonist and the interview with London Live. The one I haven’t talked about yet is the BBC Radio interview I am going to be doing on Tuesday. Having the BBC (the BB-freaking-C!) write and say, “We’ve heard about you and would like to meet you,” is probably the single most shocking and enlightening thing I have ever experienced. I can’t imagine a better cherry on top of this whole project.
I want to do something like this. How do you recommend going about it?
Firstly, that is probably the most flattering question I can imagine. I hoped so much to inspire people to explore the city, and the fact that this blog has made that possible is incredibly humbling. So thanks very much for that.
Secondly, I would suggest you go out and do it. All I did was walk. Anyone can do it. Really. Anyone. One of the most wonderful people I met along the way was a man in a wheelchair who knew the streets inside and out. His favourite pastime is “walking” around London. I met him as we were both cheekily sneaking into a private back garden in Mayfair. Anyone can do what I did. All you need is curiosity and an hour or two here and there.
As for the logistics, I’d say start with walks around your neighbourhood or office (for those who don’t live in London or even the UK, I am still talking to you). Decide on an area you want to cover and make yourself walk down every single street there. Look around you. Notice things you haven’t before. Appreciate the familiarity of the things you know well. Do this with a different area every week to get a broad knowledge, or with the same area every week to see how things change, even if it is in the smallest of movements.
Go out and walk. Be curious. Have fun. Wear good shoes.
How are things different for you now that you’ve finished?
This project became much more to me than just walks and blog posts. It was a huge deal in my life and its accompanying emotional and spiritual (mainly, I mean that as my own spirit) challenges far surpassed anything I experienced in terms of physical limitations. I mean, it was just walking. Like I said, anyone can do it. But getting out there, making it a priority, putting aside EVERYTHING so I could finish it, wearing my savings down to the nub and dealing with the fear of not knowing when that might recover, having to accept help from family and friends, putting myself out there and saying that this thing mattered to me when I couldn’t give a really solid reason as to why….all that stuff was completely unexpected and terrifyingly difficult.
To be honest, I am still kind of reeling from the experience, and am trying to process all the things I learned along the way. It pushed me in some crazy ways and showed me some truths about my life and life in general that I had either not known, forgotten or purposefully ignored. Who knows what I will think when I look back on this in five year’s time, but it seems likely to me that it was something pretty earthshaking in terms of my life from here on out.
Oh yeah, and I don’t need to carry a map anymore. So that’s pretty cool.
Are you going to walk more parts of London now that you are done with this project? Please?
I wrote about this a little on my last walk, but the answer is: no, I won’t be doing any more projects like this in London in the foreseeable future. I am excited to (re)announce that I am moving to Oman at the end of the year, so I’ll have a whole new country to explore. If you want to follow along, I’ll be talking about all the things I discover in my new home (along with some of the lessons I learned from the Congestion Zone project about taking life one step at a time) at my new blog Mobilis Divers. It would be pretty great to carry on hanging out with you there!
About That Video
I somewhat accidentally teased you with a mention of a video at the beginning. Those answers above got a little longer than I planned so thank you for your patience and for reading this far to see what I put together for you. Like I said, it’s not a masterpiece of cinematography, but it makes me smile, so there you go. Hope you like it.