Richmond to Downing Street

Richmond, a jewel of the North Riding of Yorkshire, chief town of Swaledale: and the first question I have to ask is why anyone would want to leave it for the grimy, backstabbing world of Downing Street? Yet this has happened. A sudden political hiccup and the journey had to be taken, though the individual in question, I gather, took the train or a car rather than the long thread of footpaths and lanes needed to do it properly.

It is not a short distance. It would require determination and not a little bit of time – about as long as a Norfolk Prime Minister’s tenure, I am told.

The first thing to overcome is having to leave Swaledale. It is a gorgeous part of Yorkshire, tucked along the River Swale from the hills to the Vale, with higgledy stone villages, tucked in a long, long dale alternating between narrow clefts between stony hillsides and broad green meadows. Stepping out of it up onto the wind-scoured moor can be a shock – driving steeply out of the dale once I came to Crackpot and was forced to turn back – though that may be because the road was closed: it should be done on foot.

With this in mind, the route proposed follows Swaledale down until it meets the Ure – in truth the famed ruggedness of Swaledale end soon below Richmond to give way to rich farmland, but that too is beautiful. The Swale Way (which we follow) does not give up on the river until its ultimate end in the Yorkshire Ouse, and concludes at Boroughbridge.

From Boroughbridge we take up an interestingly eccentric route called St Bernard’s Way, imagining a walk threading between the great mediaeval monasteries of Yorkshire and the Midlands, down through London to Dover, but for us, Westminster is the aim.

This route then from Richmond to Downing Street passes through ten counties, from Yorkshire, and finishing in Westminster in Middlesex.


Ordnance Survey:

Route map

Saffron Walden to Downing Street

Is it still possible to get from Saffron Walden to Downing Street? As I planned this post, it looked like a journey that might be taken in ones dreams, but dreams meet a harsh reality.

Saffron Walden is a pretty, eccentric little town in the north of Essex. Once a major centre for the trade in saffron crocuses, it is content today to be the modest market town of the area, which wears its old prosperity as a charm for visitors. It is a place I have returned to time after time. It is good for walking too.

In contrast, the aforementioned street in Westminster is in the centre of an overcrowded metropolis, and itself a seat of skulduggery and brutally self-serving men. Who would not prefer to wander up Church Street and down to the market square on a sunny June day? Why crave the cramped flat in London’s Downing Street, when there is Audley End to display how a house should be?

It is to Audley End that we first turn in fact, out from the town to the immediate green fields and to the great estate, granted to an Earl who owed his position to the ruthless politics of his own day. From there a route follows due south, borrowing one of the routes of the Harcamlow Way, an old friend.

But a full description can follow. Best to show the route for now:

Route map


Downing Street to Maidenhead walk

It is too enclosed for the mind to breathe, too urban – why seek to walk to Downing Street, when it is best sometimes to shut the door and walk away from it, to a quieter, riverside town where there is rest to find and less trouble.  So, while many have started looking towards that street, and we have provided a series of ‘Downing Street Walks’ to assist them to find the way, what of an escape for rest, to a gentle town beside the green reaches of the River Thames; a place such as Maidenhead?

The back way out of Downing Street westward opens onto St James’s Park, with little paths by the lake leading to Buckingham Palace, but here it is time to bid farewell to the pomp of power and splendour – there is a walk ahead.

The mapped route follows through the Royal Parks, by the river, by the canal with is a monument to the industrial age, and into the beauties and otherwise of southern Buckinghamshire and eastern Berkshire, all to reach the refuge from the unforgiving town which you so need.

Main articles:


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See also

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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.


South Northamptonshire to Downing Street: a worthy challenge

The south of Northamptonshire has a cluster of pleasant villages, and from these one may set out by a determined route of six days into the complete contrast that is central London; from the homes of the ordinary folk of the land, to the towers of the overmighty.

The route takes on Buckingham, then the whole Grand Union Canal path from Milton Keynes – if you start something like this, you have to continue to the end. Then a series of Royal parks brings the walker to the seat of power.

We start at Syresham, at the head of the Ouse Valley Walk, though many of the pretty villages in the south of Northamptonshire are linked here.  From Syresham the walk passes through four counties:  Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and finally Middlesex, to end at the gates of Downing Street.  It is one of a growing series of “Downing Street Walks” on WildþingUK.

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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:

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

From Henley via Uxbridge to Downing Street

How best to get from Henley-on-Thames by way of Uxbridge to 10 Downing Street in Westminster?  It is a route of 48 miles that is a mixture of town and country, an antidote to the rushed commute, and one that has history behind it.

Robert Walpole, the very first Prime Minister, was an active walker and he walked this route (if a distant memory of a long-forgotten lesson serves).  It is said that Walpole would frequently set off on foot from London and walk to Oxford.  That was an achieving man. The route marked on our map is close to that which Walpole must have taken from Oxfordshire to the heart of government in Westminster; or he might have gone through the middle of Uxbridge, where the Oxford road runs, so our route goes by Uxbridge.

I have written before in praise of walking the suburban wild places, so let us mix town and country in a single walk.  It takes in the countryside of southern Buckinghamshire, and the increasingly suburbanised villages, then the metropolis, but here it Is possible to follow a string of parks to Downing Street itself.  It takes an appreciation of Shakespeare to find the poetry which is found in many of these places, and the route named after the Bard provides much of the route, though in the end, you have to find your own way to Downing Street.

If it is possible to go from Henley to 10 Downing Street, perhaps by way of Uxbridge, following the footsteps of the first Prime Minister, then this is an honest way to do it, on foot.