The Gerald Colton Way

The Gerald Colton Way looks an oddity, but there is a sharp logic to it. It runs from the South Bank Centre in Central London, out to the Buckinghamshire Chilterns, with loops and eccentricities on the way.
The route is 65 miles long, so do not expect to walk it in one weekend. It was devised in 1994 by Gerald Colton, a founder member and long-time Walks Organiser of the Hampstead Ramblers, to mark the first multi-racial elections in South Africa that year. He named it the ‘Mandela Way’ and it ran from a statue of Nelson Mandela by the Royal Festival Hall, out to the Boer War monument on Combe Hill in Buckinghamshire. It has no other connection with South Africa though and so after Mr Colton’s death the next year, the Hampstead Ramblers renamed his route in honour of its inventor.

The Gerald Colton Way looks an oddity, but there is a sharp logic to it.  It runs from the South Bank Centre in Central London, out to the Buckinghamshire Chilterns, with loops and eccentricities on the way.

The route is 65 miles long, so do not expect to walk it in one weekend.  It was devised in 1994 by Gerald Colton, a founder member and long-time Walks Organiser of the Hampstead Ramblers, to mark the first multi-racial elections in South Africa that year. He named it the ‘Mandela Way’ and it ran from a statue of Nelson Mandela by the Royal Festival Hall, out to the Boer War monument on Combe Hill in Buckinghamshire.  It has no other connection with South Africa though and so after Mr Colton’s death the next year, the Hampstead Ramblers renamed his route in honour of its inventor.

Since the 1990s, the route has become mostly forgotten, which is a pity because it is eminently walkable in sections – the path is devised so as to pass railway stations allowing sections to be walked as day walks, and some of these are very interesting.  It also achieve the feat of finding a largely green route all the way through and out of the metropolitan conurbation.

Hungerford-Bridge, at the route’s begininng

The route on its winding course passes through four counties, beginning on the Surrey bank of the Thames before crossing to Middlesex. It crosses almost due north all through Middlesex, then looping through Hertfordshire and Middlesex again before climbing through the Chess Valley into Buckinghamshire and following the Misbourne Valley through the Chilterns.

The Gerald Colton Way provided, if not a natural waking route, a series of pleasant walks to make into a personal project.

(Thanks to the Hampstead Ramblers for information on the route.)

Maps:

In the Explorer, 1:50 000 series:

Route map

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South West Surrey to Downing Street

In the South West of Surrey sits Godalming, a fine little town on the River Wey.  It has managed to keep the best of and escape the worst of modernity.  Some commute from here to London:  there may be a better way though, on foot.  Could one walk from peaceful, happily forgotten Godalming to that centre to which all eyes turn in Downing Street?  Some might wish to make that journey by their own efforts….

The distance on our route is 42 miles, so it should take about 2 days.  It passes substantially through just one county, Surrey and finally into the edge of Middlesex.

Maps

Surrey Heath to Downing Street – an ambitious walk

Surrey heath, or rather Surrey’s heaths as they are many, is a landscape which is world away from the jumbled suburb and urban sprawl for the rest of the north of the county.  It is a good starting point to explore all these aspects of a jumbled county in a two day walk, from Chobham to Downing Street, passing through northern Surrey and into Middlesex.

I call it a two-day walk but this is army country and I would not be totally surprised to see man going at it in one.  Chobham is famous for its tank armour, and close by and using the heaths all around are the Bisley ranges, the Deepcut Barracks and just to the north is Sandhurst.

A starting route can be added from Camberley Station cutting through the town and east across the heath. The footpath runs between live firing ranges, so for anyone contemplating going from the Surrey heath to Downing Street – try not to get shot.

From Chobham the route runs across the heathland to the River Wey, along the towpath of the Navigation to the Thames, along the Thames Path, through two Royal Parks and ultimately across the Thames and to the gates of Downing Street.

A route map is provided on the main page.  One thing it cannot do it tell you how to get into Downing Street – that may be achieved with ambition and guile.

Main article:

A Wandle Wander

I was asked about walks in a little corner of suburban Surrey which I do not know very well.  Carshalton is a pretty village in itself, but very much now of the surrounding conurbation and though it has a park, it is otherwise bereft of the wide green spaces that much of the county enjoys.  Then again, a look at the map shows something special:  the River Wandle.  I put together then a ‘Wandle Wander’, from Carshalton Village north along the river to its mouth, then along the Thames Path a short way and down to Clapham Junction.

It is a walk of just 10 miles with no climbs, so one for all the family.

For the route, see my main page:

From Esher to Downing Street

How to get from Esher to Downing Street? On this new one-day route, the walker starts from a church patronised by the Duke of Newcastle; then follows in the footsteps of Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister, plotting his way to Westminster and the eventual goal.

It is out of care for my home village that I present this new walking route:  Esher to Downing Street.  It begins at St George’s Church, then runs  across towns and parks, shunning the everyday run of things and allowing one who has set his mind to the goal to reach it in a very pleasant and direct manner.

Why should any map want to make this journey?  Well, it beats the daily commute that so many undertake, so I have reinvented that commute into London as an 18-mile adventure of the wild and the suburban.  It is within the capabilities of most fit men, and for those unused to the determination it would take to get there, well, ambition is a fervent master.

How at the end you get into Downing Street, I leave to you.

Route map