Off the rails: London walks along railway lines

Picture of Paul Travers

Paul Travers

Nothing beats walking to discover a city, and London’s tracks, arches and viaducts are the setting for a number of established, new and proposed London walks.

 

With the freedom to make spontaneous stop-offs and go at your own pace for the entire route, walking is the perfect escape from one-way systems, parking restrictions and petrol prices. And you’ll never need to find a spot to lock up your bike.

 

So read on to see where you can go today, what’s on the horizon, and how you can live near these inspiring London walks.

Going low

Passing Tate Modern, Borough Market, Tower Bridge, The Bermondsey Beer Mile and Maltby Street Market, the Bankside Low Line zigzags beneath a viaduct with more than 400 arches. Stretching from Southwark tube all the way east to the Blue Market in Bermondsey, the street-level nature of the route makes it the most dynamic of London walks. You can easily make a whole day of it, stopping at some of London’s most interesting eating, drinking and cultural highlights.

London walking trails: Bankside Low Line

 

The Low Line is an initiative from Better Bankside to link the various creativity hubs and foodie culture of SE1 and SE16. Much is housed within railway arches, but many remained underused, and the walking route was conceived to increase pedestrian traffic and attract more businesses. It’s been a tremendous success, taking people through parts they’d never visited before, and making new discoveries along the way.

 

Just a three minute walk from where the Low Line route crosses Southwark Bridge Road, your very own personal property project awaits. This top-floor two-bedroom apartment converted from a former warehouse has planning permission to add another level and a spectacular roof terrace to create a huge duplex penthouse of 2,5oo sq ft.

When finished, the accommodation will include four bedrooms (one with a dressing room), three bathrooms, a huge open-plan reception, and a rooftop garden with magnificent city skyline views. The apartment is for sale at £1,750,000.

 

Into the woods

Beating the New York High Line by 25 years is Parkland Walk, connecting Finsbury Park to Highgate. Owned in 1984, the route uses the former tracks of the disused Edgware, Highgate & London Railway and feels more like a walk in the countryside. Occasional glimpses of the city’s skyscrapers serve as a reminder of the urban reality.

London walking trails: Parkland Walk linking Finsbury Park to Highgate

Along the way, you pass the remains of Crouch End station, which closed in 1954. Much of the path is unmade, which means it can get a bit muddy when it’s wet, but that just adds to the sense of escape, and the route is popular with walkers and joggers pretty much all year round.

 

Getting high

Inspired by The High Line in New York and the Coulee Verte in Paris, the Camden Highline has just had the go-ahead from the council. Using the disused track next to the Camden Road Overground section, the elevated route will link Camden Gardens to York Way at the top of Kings Cross, with four access points along the way.

London Walking trails: Camden High Line

If you’ve ever wandered along The Regent’s Canal from Camden to King’s Cross, you’ll know how busy it can get with cyclists and pedestrians sharing a towpath that was originally meant for a single horse. The Highline’s elevated nature via steps or a lift is designed to keep it solely for pedestrians, offering far more room for a leisurely stroll without being dinged out of the way every few seconds.

 

If you live in Camden and work at Meta or Sony, the current walk is a bit of a higgledy-piggledy and fairly uninspiring adventure, but that will transform into an almost straight line, with the elevated setting providing a new perspective for walking in this part of the city.

 

Camden Council approved the first section in January, and it looks like work will begin at the end of 2023, with a timetable of 18 months to complete the project and an opening date in the summer of 2025.

Just along Kentish Town Road from the starting point of the Highline, you can live in a converted Victorian bathhouse. The grand building is home to this two-bedroom contemporary duplex apartment of almost 1,500 sq ft, available for sale at £775,000.

 

Over the top

Opened in 2017, Bagley Walk offers a wonderfully open and elevated perspective of Kings Cross and The Regebt’s Canal. Beginning at Somers Town Bridge, the route takes you over the Victorian railway arches that now house the boutiques and restaurants of Coal Drops Yard. The path then follows the curve of the canal before a gradual descent to the public square and fountains of Granary Square.

London walking trails: Bagley Walk in Kings Cross

But you don’t have to wait that long – or go that far! – to get an idea of an urban walk on top of a railway viaduct. Bagley Walk begins at Somers Town Bridge, with the Victorian arches below now housing the boutiques and restaurants of Coal Drops Yard. The route then follows the curve of The Regent’s Canal before a gradual descent to the public square and fountains of Granary Square.

 

Taking a side

Although it’s on hold for the moment, The Peckham Coal Line could well be resurrected once the refurbishment of Peckham Rye’s beautiful Victorian station building is complete. Utilising abandoned coal sidings, the route would connect Queens Road to Rye Lane, cutting a green swathe through the urban setting, taking in a woodland nature reserve and open views of London’s skyline along the way.

 

Inspired by the plans for the station and the continued renaissance of Peckham, a group of locals came up with the idea of reviving the coal sidings. Although plans stalled in December, there’s strong local support. Meanwhile, the vision of Berkeley Homes to redevelop the Aylesham Centre and provide hundreds of new apartments is setting the scene for more transformation.

 

Of course, Peckham is already exciting enough, and you can live right in the heart of it, but hidden away. This two-storey freehold warehouse building is tucked behind the shops on Rye Lane and extends to 2000 sq ft. The incredible interior is perfect for industrial living and having a creative space at home, all lovingly restored by its current owners of 39 years.  The building is for sale at £1,350,000.

Have you enjoyed discovering these London walks?

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