Reflections on Walking Week 2024

This May London National Park City hosted their first ever London Walking Week to coincide with Living Streets Walking Month with the Fleet Street Visitors Centre as a central hub for events. The goal was to share the experience of a greener, wilder and healthier capital on foot. From absorbing tales of writers and the adventures of wanderers to embracing the visions of filmmakers and the knowledge of foragers, this event celebrated campaigners, chroniclers, and all who simply cherish a leisurely stroll through our vibrant city. 

The idea behind London Walking Week was to unveil a greener, wilder, and healthier capital, inviting all to explore its hidden treasures on foot.

As London embraces 2024 as the year of walking, the capital underscores its commitment to fostering a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly environment, inviting residents and visitors alike to rediscover the charm of exploring the capital on foot.

The momentum towards active travel on foot continues to surge. A recent survey conducted among GoJauntly app users revealed that 90% have transitioned to walking more for active travel after walking for leisure.

Despite the waning memories of daily COVID walks, the zeal for pedestrian exploration remains palpable. London now witnesses an average of 6.6 million daily walking trips, complemented by an additional 1.5 million journeys via alternative modes of transport, presenting ample opportunities for feasible pedestrian alternatives.

Jane’s Walk London Festival 2024 - Launch Event

We began Walking Week early to celebrate the launch of Jane’s Walk London Festival 2024 and the start of Living Streets National Walking Month.

Jane’s Walk London presented their fifth festival edition with an in-person event in collaboration with other grassroots organisations who share our interest in supporting people in leading change, to launch a new lineup of volunteer-led walks across London happening on the weekend May 10-12. The event featured a diverse range of themes including community campaigns, public art, local history and nature walks.

During the evening, we celebrated the amazing Jane Jacobs with the screening of a documentary by Laurence Hyde featuring Jacobs talking through her ideas, interspersed with some terrific footage of Toronto, New York, London and other cities around the world.

We were also joined by Dame Jane Roberts, chair trustee at Living Streets who shared her reflections of the wonderful work of Jane Jacobs and shared more about National Walking Month. 

The event was an opportunity to come together as organisations and individuals interested in discovering and discussing on-the-ground aspects of our city and network with like-minded people. The idea was to learn a bit more about Jane Jacobs, find out about all the walks happening in May and get to know each other a little better!

Jane’s Walk London is proud to be supported by the Young Urbanist Network of the Academy of Urbanism.

Campaigning, natural history and biodiversity

Ranger Chantal Woodun & Brent River Park Trustee Katie Boyles hosted a walk showcasing the importance of green and blue space in London. We learnt about the history of campaigning along the River Brent including how the important work continues. Of course we took in the beauty of the different habitats including floodplains, canals and meadows and find out about the biodiversity and some key species found in this lush corner of West London.

The Brent River Park is solely here because of a big idea by a gentleman named Luke FitzHerbert and some dedicated people. Luke formed the Brent River Canal Society can be seen doing today having recently successfully campaigned to ensure all of Warren Farm Nature Reserve will receive Local Nature Reserve designation within the Brent River Park. A re-wilded meadow habitat that is home to an abundance of rare species, including a quarter of London’s breeding Skylark population that was under threat of being lost forever.

We started at Hanwell station and walked through Churchfields past St Mary’s Church. Around Brent Lodge Park following the River Brent. Under the Viaduct. Through Brent Meadow (stopping at Ealing hospital to see the Peregrines!), through FitzHerbert Walk (named after the founder of the Brent River Park) to Warren Farm Nature Reserve, ancient woodland Long Wood and back via Trumpers Field (which was going to be developed into a marina and hotel in the 80s until campaigners stopped it from going ahead) and ending in the The Fox Inn for food, drinks and good company!

The Great East London Parks Route

The East London Garden Society is doing its best to provide, through the expanse of east London’s nature, the beauty for all to see by walking with us on many of the trail ways that have been given the name The Great Eastern Parks Route. The event was co-hosted by Go Parks London and supported by CPRE London.

We began a wet Bank Holiday Monday The Bethnal Green Library with a diehard group of twelve adventurers.   

We learnt about the second oldest gardens in London, walked along the end of the soon to be London Highline, through to Meath Gardens, from Meath Gardens and travelled through Victoria Park onto The Channelsea River. As we approached The Greenway we were joined by the river rights advocates The Surge Co-Op who are doing amazing work in water-space improvements and access. 

Following The Greenway we finally ended up in 150 year old West Ham Park where we joined the last hour of The Newham Green Fair.

Exploring quiet and interesting London streets

By Tuesday afternoon the rain clouds had cleared and Footways co-founder David Harrison led a delightful stroll through the Liverpool Street Station to the Fleet Street Visitors Centre through the City’s historic streets. We took in fascinating features and history from the Romans to the twenty-first century, including stunning mediaeval buildings and charming pedestrianised streets which survived the Blitz and the 1960s. This short walk really highlighted the delights of urban walking along quiet and attractive streets.

At the Visitors Centre we had a presentation by John Edwards, the Deputy Chairman of the City of London’s Streets & Walkways Sub Committee on the City’s exciting plans for its streets and public spaces. The latest Transport Strategy, which is expected to be published this summer, proposes to design and manage the City’s streets includes ambitious proposals to prioritise the needs of people walking, make streets more accessible and deliver world-class public realm, and make the most efficient and effective use of street space by significantly reducing motor traffic. Among the projects will be a new public square in King Edward Street, replacing the current gyratory.

Emma Griffin of Footways challenged journey planning apps to take walking seriously with a presentation Footways created for the first ever TFL Wayfinding summit earlier in the year. 

The video created emphasised that the direct walking route isn’t always the quickest and certainly not the most enjoyable.

The Green Link Walk

TFL launched the Green Link Walk to respond to London’s boom in leisure walking since the pandemic and Londoners’ desire for more space dedicated to walking

New route spans several London boroughs, linking almost 40 areas of green space and other Walk London routes. 

London National Park Ranger Michael Shilling led four walks exploring the natural wonders and hidden gems along this scenic route, celebrating the beauty and diversity of London’s landscape.

Green Link Walk TFL Footways MapGo Jauntly

I loved coming out of Peckham and following the Grand Surrey Canal up to Burgess Park but my favourite section was between Lea Bridge and Angel. It’s a wonderful blend of walkable low traffic streets, history and tantalising gardens.

Author evenings

Our Fleet Street Visitors Centre  played host to two meet the author evenings.

Jack Cornish - The Lost Paths

Ramblers Head of Paths Jack Cornish has dedicated the last six years of his life to walking hundreds of thousands of miles of public paths that reach into, and connect, communities in London and beyond. The Lost Paths: A History of How We Walk from Here to There is the result, a journey across our ancient network of pathways and a story of loss, survival and glorious revival.

Jack was interviewed by the wonderful Des Garrahan and the amazing Stanford’s Travel brought along books for signings and series. 

The Lost Paths Book on Penguin

John Rogers - Welcome to New London

Author and filmmaker John Rogers joined us at Fleet Street to talk about his latest book : Welcome to New London Journeys and Encounters in the Post-Olympic City. Rogers took us on a captivating voyage through the ever-changing landscapes and communities of this iconic city. The book that started with a tweet conveying Roger’s dissatisfaction at the appropriated New York name ‘East Village’ being used to describe an area steeped rich in history. 

Ten years in the making Rogers scrutinises the legacy the 2012 Olympic Games has had on East London. 

John RodgersWelcome to New London – book

London’s Rivers and Nature in the City

Throughout the week we showcased a whole array of London’s wild spaces from nature in the city walks, lost rivers and nature walks to rivers under threat and pollinator corridors.

London Hidden River Fleet

Being based at Fleet Street it felt apt that we should explore London’s most famous lost river.

Des Garrahan led a large group of explorers from St Pancras Old Church along a 4 mile linear walk that traced part of London’s Hidden River Fleet on its journey to the Thames.

Des aka Walking Class Hero, delivered a fun, fact packed stroll in his own unique and wonderful style.

Spoilers: We found the river outside a pub just round the corner from Fegan’s Den.

Nature in the City

Sitting on grass in Inner Temple Gardens, under a silver beech sipping on birch leaf tea it’s hard to imagine a more delightful way to spend a Thursday lunchtime. 

Ranger Helen Simms led an urban wildlife exploration around the London National Park City visitor centre at Fleet Street.

This leisurely circular walk uncovered some fascinating species sharing our city spaces. We also dipped into some of the natural history of the area. 

The Fleet Street Flora & Fauna route is available on Go Jaunty, bring your own birch leaf tea.

Exploring the Hackney Buzzline

We joined ecoACTIVE and their new Community Ecologist on a walk along The Hackney BuzzLine. An innovative initiative aimed at improving pollinator habitats, enhancing cycling and walking routes, and engaging community-based bodies and residents in planting for bees and butterflies.

The walk showcased areas the project will work on over the next three years but also showcased some amazing work already happening to re-wild Hackney. 

You can follow the route for free using the Go Jauntly.  The app can not only be used for navigation but it also showcases some of the projects ecoACTIVE have been involved in so far and some of the areas the project will focus on over the next three years.

It’s a lovely walk filled with wildflower meadows, parks with relaxed mowing, community gardens and orchards and of course plenty of bees and butterflies!

Wandle Walk with Elly Platt

Textile artist and London National Park City Ranger Elly Platt aka Take It Up Wear It Out, took us for a walk along South London’s River Wandle. The Wandle was a heavily industrialised river in the 18th and 19th centuries and was declared “dead” in the 1960s but has been restored to life over the last 50 years and is now a beautiful chalk stream habitat and home to a wide variety of wildlife. 

We travelled back in time along the Wandle Trail and found out about the Wandle’s rich history as a site of textile production, and how this history is a microcosm of the global textile industry today. 

The Wandle faces challenges from single-use plastic pollution and wastewater discharges, and we learnt how local activists have been working to improve this environment for years.

The walk took us from restored chalk stream to culverted urban river, from new housing developments to National Trust gardens, from modern industry to the repurposed buildings of the Liberty Print Works.

Lenses of Croydon Takeover

On Friday night Lenses of Croydon took over the show with a photowalk from Waterloo along The Roupell Street Conservation area to the Fleet Street visitors centre.

The evening showcased the short film Brutalism in Colour from Ranger Michael Shilling which featured the unique work photographer Christopher Hope-Fitch. The film was created to accompany an exhibition at the Gareth Gardner Gallery during the London Festival of Architecture. 

Michael and Chris discussed their collaborative creative process of daytime walks  and evening photoshoots.  

The Street Tree x Fruity Walks

Paul Wood (aka The Street Tree) and Divya Hariramani (aka Fruity Walks) led a guided tour of the trees around the National Park City Visitors Centre, a film screening and Q&A. 

In April, Paul and Divya made a film with Ranger Michael Shilling introducing some of the amazing trees in Shoreditch and the City. Of course, because Divya was involved, the emphasis was on fruit trees, starting with London’s first Lemon tree planted on the street. This event segwayed from the 2024 Walking Week to the 2024 Urban Tree Festival which ran from 11th-19th May.

Our supporters

This event was supported by Houston Lawrence and match funded by the Aviva Community Fund. 

“At Houston Lawrence we’re dedicated to fostering connections within our local communities. London Walking Week offers a unique opportunity for everyone to discover the city from fresh perspectives. By supporting this week, we hope to inspire everyday walking and advocate for a healthier lifestyle among Londoners.”

Event organiser and coordinator London National Park City Ranger Michael Shilling.

Scroll to Top