Walking the London Outer Orbital Path (the LOOP for short) is a great way to get to know London better. At nearly 152 miles (245 km), some like to think of it as the ‘M25 for walkers’ — but it’s a world away from the motorway and has been thoughtfully divided into 24 well marked, bite-sized stages. Weaving around the capital the LOOP is mainly on flat or gentle sloping surfaces with only some sections requiring a bit more puff!
The LOOP Walk reveals relics of London’s colourful past from impressive stately residences such as Hall Place to emotive monuments like the Wilberforce memorial to the abolition of slavery. There’s even a shot tower once used to make gunpowder. You don’t have to be a military buff to enjoy a Thameside ‘graveyard’ for concrete D-Day barges or to explore Kenley Aerodrome, the atmospheric former wartime air base.
The easy stages allow you to enjoy the route at your own pace. You can pause to indulge in some ‘retail therapy’ at bustling towns like Kingston-upon-Thames or enjoy a picnic in peace among green open spaces like Bushy Royal Park or along the rivers and canals.
This website shows the official line of the trail. Occasionally it is necessary to divert sections of the route, contact the local London Borough for information about diversions.
The route is indicated on the ground by a variety of signs and waymarks. In countryside locations they consist mostly of a simple white disc, mounted on wooden posts and containing a directional arrow with the flying kestrel logo in blue and text in green. (A word of warning: the arrow's direction may not be clear until you are close up. It is easy to assume that it points ahead, but it may turn - look closely before continuing.) In urban streets these are replaced by larger aluminium signs strapped to lampposts and other street furniture, and additionally carry a walking man symbol. On link routes to stations the word 'link' is incorporated into the logo. At major focal points you will also meet tall green and white signposts that give distances to three points in either direction. Some of these locations may also have the big, round-topped information boards.
An excellent guidebook to the whole route, written by David Sharp and with 1:25,000 scale Ordnance Survey maps, is published by Aurum Press (ISBN 978-1845137878 - all reprinted in July 2012). Note that in this book the route is divided into 15 sections by combining some of those described here. The Ordnance Survey is marking the London Loop route on its Explorer maps as new editions are published.
Visit the Totally London website to watch a video of a walk on the Loop from Cockfosters to Enfield Chase.
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