Exploring London with Footways

This summer Footways launched the third edition of their printed Central London Walking map.

Footways is a network of quiet and enjoyable routes that connects major places with appealing and accessible streets. These places include mainline train stations, popular destinations and green spaces. Footways is committed to inspiring Londoners and visitors to choose walking as the most enjoyable, efficient and healthy option for travel. 

During the Coronation weekend Network Rail began handing out 18,000 copies of the high-quality, folded printed map from ten London train stations. If you’re lucky you might still be able to grab a free copy, but if not they will be available to purchase from Stanfords for £5.  

The best-selling Footways map was featured as Map of the Month at Stanfords, the world’s largest map and travel book retailer, in November 2022. The new edition showcases self-guided walks and intriguing features, making journeys even more enjoyable. 

Footways map

Emma Griffin, co-founder of Footways highlighted that “most people arriving in London by train dash straight for the Tube. We want more people to continue their journeys on foot, to see the best of the city and feel the life of its streets.  And it takes just 20 minutes to walk from Victoria to Westminster, 30 minutes from Waterloo, or 10 minutes from Paddington to Hyde Park.” 

David Harrison, co-founder of Footways agrees “Historically, people walked to great events from the stations. Millions visited London to see the Great Exhibition of 1851 and many went on foot. Queen Victoria saw ‘three whole parishes …from Kent and Surrey (800 in number) walking in procession, two and two’. Try it, and arrive happier and healthier.”

I’ve been working with Footways since the launch of the 2nd Edition of their Central London map in 2022. Essentially my role is to stroll around making cool videos about walking and history. This could possibly be my definition of a dream job. 

David’s appreciation and knowledge of London’s history is second to none, when he suggests going for a walk and making some videos I know it’s always going to be the highlight of my week!

Footways isn’t just about history, the underlying goal is working towards walking being the first choice people make when travelling in London. It’s equally important that we have a safe and sustainable walking network in London, not just for leisure but an essential part of an active travel plan. 

I’m from the southern fringes of Greater London at the edge of zone 6 where greenspace and the Green Belt Act is almost taken for granted by the majority of its inhabitants. I live opposite the beginning of a London Loop section, a short cycle to areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a 30-minute train ride to Central London. 

As a non driver, my travel around London is a blend of public transport and walking. This is only slightly hampered by way-finding.

It’s often not easy to make walking a first choice when using navigation apps. We have apps that offer the option to “walk less” but lack the opportunity to “walk more”. My work around was to turn off all transport options like buses and tubes to force these applications to offer walking connectivity within my journey.

Tools like the Footways digital map are extremely helpful to me and I hope that one day its data will be fully integrated into navigation applications. In the meantime, I know that the Footways maps can inspire Londoners to explore their city on foot and gain a greater appreciation for this amazing and ever changing National City Park.

Written by Michael Shilling, London National Park City Ranger in Croydon.

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