London Countryway

Between Waltham Abbey and Wellington Hill, with Epping Forest in the distance: actually one of the closest points to central London on the London Countryway.

The London Countryway is a 350 km orbital walking trail around London. The route never actually enters Greater London but runs through the countryside of neighbouring counties. The surroundings are hugely varied, ranging from dead flat fens to rugged chalk hills, rich in cultural and heritage interest and an outstanding showcase for London's protected green belt. The trail is easily walked as a series of day walks from London using public transport.

The route includes:
  • Three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Chilterns, Kent Downs, Surrey Hills)
  • Two National Nature Reserves (Broxbourne Woods, Chobham Common)
  • Two Community Forests (Thames Chase, Watling Chase)
  • A Regional Park (Lee Valley)
  • Two contrasting stretches of the river Thames (Maidenhead and Tilbury)
  • Three historic canals (Basingstoke Canal, Lee Navigation, Wey Navigation) and the New River
  • Windsor Great Park and Castle
  • The National Trust village of West Wycombe
  • Roman Verulamium
  • Epping Forest
  • ...and numerous other lesser known but fascinating green spaces, nature reserves and heritage sites

Links to route commentaries and descriptions

Note numbers in brackets refer to the original running order of the sections: see below.
  1. Gravesend to Sole Street, 9.5 km (17b) Description ¦ Commentary
    Gravesend to Sole Street Original route via Wrotham Road 8.8 km (17b) ¦  Description ¦ Commentary
  2. Sole Street to Borough Green 18.4 km (18) Description ¦ Commentary
  3. Borough Green to Riverhill and Sevenoaks 14.4 km (19a) Description ¦ Commentary
  4. Riverhill to Hurst Green or Oxted 21.5 km (19b/20) Description ¦ Commentary
  5. Hurst Green or Oxted to Merstham 17km (21) Description ¦ Commentary
  6. Merstham to Dorking or Boxhill & Westhumble 17.5 km (22) Description ¦ Commentary
  7. Dorking or Boxhill & Westhumble to Horsley 17 km (1) Description ¦ Commentary
  8. Horsley to West Byfleet 15.5 km (2) Description ¦ Commentary
  9. West Byfleet to Sunningdale 15 km (3) Description ¦ Commentary
  10. Sunningdale to Windsor 15.6 km (4) Description ¦ Commentary
  11. Windsor to Marlow 23 km (5) Description ¦ Commentary
  12. Marlow to West Wycombe and High Wycombe 19.5 km (6) Description ¦ Commentary
  13. West Wycombe to Great Missenden 14 km (7) Description ¦ Commentary
  14. Great Missenden to Ashley Green and Berkhamsted 17.5 km (8) Description ¦ Commentary
  15. Ashley Green to Kings Langley 15 km (9) Description ¦ Commentary
  16. Kings Langley to St Albans 12 km (10) Description ¦ Commentary
  17. St Albans to Welham Green 19 km (11) Description ¦ Commentary
    St Albans to Welham Green alternative route via Alban Way 12 km (11a)
    Description ¦ Commentary
  18. Welham Green to Broxbourne 20 km (12) Description ¦ Commentary
  19. Broxbourne to Epping 21.5 km (13) Description | Commentary
    Broxbourne to Theydon Bois 1981 alternative 20 km (13) Description ¦ Commentary
  20. Epping to Brentwood 23 km (14/15a) Description | Commentary
    Theydon Bois to Brentwood 1981 alternative 22.5 km (14/15a) Description ¦ Commentary
  21. Brentwood to West Horndon 9 km (15b) Description ¦ Commentary
  22. West Horndon to Gravesend 25 km (16/17a) Description ¦ Commentary
    West Horndon to Gravesend alternative route via Tilbury Town 18.5 km (16/17a) | Description | Commentary
View the route on Google Maps

More about the route

Starting on the south bank of the Thames in the east at Gravesend, the trail runs clockwise via Sevenoaks, Reigate, Dorking, Woking, Windsor and parallel to the Thames again to cross it at Marlow. It continues via West Wycombe, St Albans, Broxbourne and Brentwood to Tilbury where it completes the circuit using the ferry to Gravesend.

The Countryway passes through five shire counties -- Kent, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex -- plus Windsor and Maidenhead unitary authority in the former county of Berkshire and Thurrock unitary authority, formerly in Essex.

The trail approaches as close as 300 m to the Greater London boundary at Harrow Bridge near Bulphan, and runs as far as 22 km distant from it at West Wycombe. At its closest point to central London at Waltham Abbey it runs 21 km from Charing Cross as the crow flies; at its furthest point at West Wycombe, 49.5 km.

The route crosses or uses sections of numerous other trails including European Path E2, the North Downs Way and Thames Path National Trails, Saxon Shore Way, Wealdway, Greensand Way, Vanguard Way, Three Castles Path, Chiltern Way, South Bucks Way, Hertfordshire Way, Watling Chase Trail, New River Path, Lea Valley Path and Forest Way. Some of these and other trails link it to the London Loop and the Walk London strategic network: at Waltham Abbey it's only around 2 km from the Loop.

The trail is designed so it can be walked easily as a series of day walks using public transport. It's divided into 22 sections, most around 15-20 km. Nearly all these start or finish at or within easy walking distance of stations with frequent (at least hourly) direct rail services to central London terminals, or in a couple of cases with good connecting services. Three stations are further away from trailheads, with a choice of walking or catching reasonably frequent local buses, though these may not run, or run infrequently, on Sundays. It's usually possible to split sections into shorter lengths using additional rail and bus connections.

The London Countryway is an unofficial trail that isn't signed in its own right but uses existing paths and access. It was originally devised in the late 1970s by Keith Chesterton, who published a guidebook in 1979. The second and so far most recent edition of this appeared in 1981 and is long out of print, so the Countyway is something of a lost London orbital route, predating the London Loop by almost two decades.

This site contains what to the best of my knowledge is the first complete guide to the route published for well over 30 years. It largely follows the route as described in the 1981 guidebook, with many of the paths much improved since that book was published. I've made occasional diversions, sometimes out of necessity but more often out of preference or to explore paths and access that are new or improved in the intervening years. The main differences are:
  • Chesterton describes the route as starting and finishing at Box Hill near Dorking but for reasons explained in the text I have chosen to start and finish at Gravesend (as the route is circular you could choose to start and finish at any point).
  • Chesterton's route follows main roads through Gravesend and Brentwood. I've worked out more interesting alternatives using back streets and green spaces, including a much improved route from Gravesend to Sole Street via the new Jeskyns woodland and the village of Cobham.
  • The section starting at St Albans originally finished at Brookmans Park. A path towards the end of this section has since been diverted so I found it more convenient to finish instead at Welham Green, a station on the same line opened since the book was published.
  • The original route ran via Epping but the second edition of the guide in 1981 diverts the route via Theydon Bois to avoid construction works on the M25 motorway. As these have long since been completed, I've restored the route via Epping as the recommended choice, but also described the Theydon Bois alternative.
  • I've changed the start and finish points of some sections to avoid now-difficult transport connections and to align to the changed start point.
  • Where sections finish at bus stops, I've given detailed descriptions of alternative walking routes to the nearest station.


Jeffers15 said...

This is great stuff Des. I was out walking today and thinking that London needed a circular route outside the M25 and now (with some help from LDWA member Dave Williams) I've found it. Being based in the South East I have done most of the southern bits in the guise of other long distance paths but everything from Horsely would be new and exciting. I will consult my walking chums.


Jeff Lock

Des de Moor said...

You're very welcome, Jeff. Hope you enjoy the route. Please get in touch if you find any problem with the descriptions. Des

Julian Glover said...

Hi Des

having just completed and blogged about the London LOOP, I've just be recommended the London Countryway by a reader and come across your site.

Looks like a very interesting walk, so I'll take a more in-depth view of the pages at a later date, but I'm so glad to find you have provided this resource. Thanks!



Des de Moor said...

Thanks Jules. Hope you find the pages useful. I've done things the other way round and am now in the midst of covering the Loop. Happy walking!

Thom Aikman said...

Des. Normally follow you for beer postings in London. Now pleased to have found your London Countryway route. Have done the Loop and Ring twice so looking for another long distance route closer to home. Just back from walking in Picos de Europa, so now have project to take me up to end of year.

Des de Moor said...

Thanks, Thom. Hope it's useful -- let me know how you get on! The Countryway is more of a challenge than the Loop and the Ring, very much a country route, with some surprisingly stiff climbs in the North Downs and Chilterns. Need to rewalk it myself at some point but still writing up the Loop, which I've just completed for the third time.

Thom Aikman said...

I will start from Windsor next week, my nearest start point. Ease of access overrides the desire to start at Gravesend. Eventually, nicer to end the final leg at Windsor than Gravesend. The main issue will be the cost of a lot of single tickets to the various start and from the end points. I am well used to the Chilterns and the Downs environment. I will feedback any navigation issues, if that's OK.

Des de Moor said...

Enjoy it Thom. Personally I loved finishing at Gravesend, there's just something about the Thames estuary and the two forts and the ferry ride are a treat, but it's not to everyone's taste. Yep the tickets thing is a pain, although there are sometimes ways round it -- bear in mind that walk up return tickets are valid via "any reasonable route" and you can break your journey. For example between Gravesend and Sole Street a return to Rochester would almost certainly be cheaper than two singles.

Thom Aikman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thom Aikman said...

Hi Des
Yesterday, I completed the London Countryway at Windsor Bridge. I finally met my objective of looping London 3 times (incl Loop and Ring for a second time) this year. Ultimately, I used the M25 to get round the route and used buses/tubes/trains to get back to my start point.

In the end an hugely enjoyable adventure, boosted with some fine autumnal weather. This did cause plenty of navigation issues in wooded and forested areas with a deep carpet of leaves covering paths.

Generally, I used your notes and the googlemap route to guide me, with some support from my online OS mapping. There were some minor typos in the notes which became apparent soon enough. I did take some time to get used to your concise writing style. As expected the landscape in places has changed since your started writing in 2009. Some road walking was now on quite busy roads. All's well in the end though and I followed your stages as described.

I loved the walking in the Chilterns, Thames Valley and North Downs. Less so, areas such as Herts and Essex, where there was too much walking across and around ploughed fields. one of the downside of walking the route in autumn.

Thanks again reviving the route and the time and effort in writing the notes.

Highly enjoyable

Plans for next year is walking the Wainwright Coast to Coast in June.

Thom Aikman

Thom Aikman said...

Just a note regarding the Horsley - West Byfleet section
<< Go past a stile along a track between hedges (Wharf Lane), crossing
a footbridge over the Wey and, a few paces further, reaching a T-junction with the
towpath of the River Wey Navigation. European Path E2 joins here from the left.>>

The footbridge sadly no longer exists. There is a detour which I missed before I reached the river Wey and the missing bridge. A council official notice at the river states that there is neither funds nor easy access to replace it. However, there is a white bridge to the right on private golf course land which crosses the river and gets back on route. The note advises you not to trespass on private land.

Dick Bowman said...

Also making my way round - using your notes to plot a route onto OS maps. What's gratifying is how there seems to be something unexpected on every stage, and the variety (started at Gravesend, reached Windsor).

Finding this much more interesting than London Loop.

Thanks for the effort put into the route descriptions.

Des de Moor said...

Thanks for the update Thom. I've also done some googling and note this is a known problem. Have you reported it to the Ramblers via I'm sure they know about it already but the more people are on the case, the better. I'll add a note to the commentary.

Glad you're enjoying the walk, Dick. I wouldn't say the Countryway is either better or worse than the Loop, just different. Inevitably as it's further out, it's much more rural. But the Countryway also has its constant surprises, as I've been rediscovering in walking it for the third time and then writing it up in detail elsewhere on these pages.

Three Points of the Compass said...

just wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for your work in both championing the London Countryway and your excellent research. I completed the trail a few days ago and very much enjoyed my time on it. Thoroughly recommended.

Des de Moor said...

Thanks Three Points -- glad you've found my work useful. Will read the blog!

Graham McKerrow said...

I've just done three stages starting at Gravesend and - once out of that town - it's a delight so thanks, Des, for reviving this route and for the fascinating commentary - including your opinions which are very refreshing in a Rambling context. It's a joy following the route as Spring unfolds and I look forward to the rest taking one day per week over the coming months.

Des de Moor said...

Thanks for that, Graham, I'm glad you're finding the posts helpful -- and that you're finding my opinions refreshing rather than irritating! Enjoy the walk.

Les said...

Many thanks for this route I am now trying to walk it as a 'farewell to London' since we are retiring back to Cornwall. I will have to walk some long days if I am to complete. Mostly using GPX for this.
Regards to all

Des de Moor said...

Thanks Les, hope you enjoy it. I don't think I could ever retire from London though! Des

Strawberryyog said...

Hi Des. We corresponded some time ago you'd finished this project. I'm delighted to find it all done now, thank you.

I just wanted to check that you knew there's a damaged link on this main page. In "Links to route commentaries and descriptions", for your item "8. Horsley to West Byfleet 15.5 km (2)" the Commentary link should go to

- but in this one case has the "-byfleet" missing. Hope this helps!

Des de Moor said...

Thanks for spotting this Strawberryyog. Now fixed.

Strawberryyog said...

Great, many thanks Des.

London City of Science said...

Thank you so much for the revised Countryway walk. Working from the 1997 maps that I bought last time I did the walk has its challenges and there are some significant changes since your 2009 revision. It was glorious for walking today and I was easily able to complete the longish Sevenoaks to Oxted section. I am learning to check 'left' and 'right' in your notes. Surely 'left' along Rockfield Road to Hurst Green station - for example. But overall it is wonderful to be able to do the walk again following your suggested route.

Des de Moor said...

Ah -- it is SO easy to write 'left' when you mean 'right'! Apologies for any errors: I strongly recommend you work with my description and map and an OS Explorer map before you set out to get an idea of the route. I will rewalk the route at some point and check all the descriptions. Glad though that you're finding it useful.

CLOG said...

Excellent work! I think the London Country Way will make another series of walks Lead By As Many People As Possible for our walking group Central London Outdoor Group We did the Capital Ring a couple of years ago and have nearly finished the London Loop so we may launch the London Country Way Project some time in 2018.

Do you happen to have GPX files for each stage?

Des de Moor said...

CLOG: Glad you found it useful. I don't have GPX files I'm afraid, though I have mapped it on Google Maps here:

(This should also be linked from each post).

I think you can download the lines on this map in GPX format but how accurate they'll be I don't know as they were drawn on the map rather than being recorded on the ground.

I know of some other walking groups who have done this as a project including my own group, Blackheath Ramblers, although I didn't go on any of those -- I tend only to do shorter walks with groups.

London City of Science said...

Beautiful day to enjoy the varied walk from Horsley to West Byfleet. Before leaving I printed out the pdf file from: Forewarned (thank you) it was easy to go straight across Mill Lane from the footpath from Wisley to pick up Bridleway 33 (see pdf download). Care is needed to fork right off the bridleway onto the footpath 531 after the second footbridge. Coming out of the woodland it is possible to cut across to the northern end of Ripley Green (see dotted path on map) to pick up footpath 34 which leads easily to the lock on the navigation. Walsham lock is the last turf sided lock and so worth a visit. This is an attractive diversion/extension to the Countryway and the extra walking along the towpath was very pleasant on a sunny afternoon.

Ann Starr said...

Hi Des/CLOG,

I used an app to convert Des's Google maps file to GPX then split them into individual GPX files for each section from station to station. I also tracked the walk on my phone as we did each one. I was meaning to upload them all to OS Maps. They need a bit of tidying up to take out our deviations (to the pub etc!) but I could email them to you, Des, so you could put them on the site if you like.

Des de Moor said...

London City of Science: Thanks. I'm going to copy this comment onto the page about that section.
Ann: thanks for that. Perhaps if you're happy to share your GPX files publicly, I can link to them once you've got them online.

Leonard Will said...

I have been using a GPX file that I downloaded from

It follows the route as described by Des, though it led me onto the old route south of Gravesend rather than showing his improved variation via Cobham. It is very reassuring to be able to check before going too far after taking a wrong turning.

This works fine with 1:25000 OS maps which I can use offline on my phone, having paid a subscription of £25.99 to get access to them all for 12 months from

There is another GPX file at but you have to be a member of the Long Distance Walkers Association to download it.

Strawberryyog said...

And what I think would be very interesting to know is how the LDWA GPX compares with the other two mentioned so far. I've often looked at GPXs and wanted an Authority Figure to come in pointing, and saying in a booming big voice: "that one is the CORRECT one!" before retiring (sound effects, fanfares etc). It hasn't yet happened though ...

Leonard Will said...

If you use the Viewranger app, you can also download free routes for each section of the London Countryway from by searching for "countryway".

The ones I checked appear to have been created by Geoff Nicholson and say "This route is based on information published online by Des de Moor". It seems that Des is the nearest we have to an Authority Figure for this route, but I don't suppose anyone will disqualify you from claiming its completion if you take a few diversions, intentional or not ...

London City of Science said...

West Byfleet to Sunningdale - as fine a walk as your commentary suggests. Thank you.
Two issues:
(1) After crossing Stonehill Road, and forking left along a narrower footpath towards a farm gate turn 'left' (not right) through wooden barriers. It has to be left - but it is disconcerting to be instructed to go right.
(2) On Chobham Common the 'fallen gorse bush' no longer seems to exists and the faint path was clear and easy to follow, and walk along, up to the main track across the common. There now seems to be no need to suggest an alternative route.
Great walk - thanks.

Leonard Will said...

Hi London City of Science. I agree, and posted the same comments in the commentary section for West Byfleet to Sunningdale. I think it is helpful to post comments on specific parts of the route in their own sections, as they may be missed in this part of the blog which covers the route as a whole.

I seem to be a couple of sections ahead of you - got to Marlow last week and aiming for High Wycombe tomorrow, but you may catch up as I'm not a keen bad-weather walker! Does your handle indicate any connection with the Science Museum? I used to work there.

Ann Starr said...

Hi Des, I think it would be a good idea if there was a link to a GPX file against each section of the countryway on your site, in a similar manner to that provided on This could then be downloaded and used in any number of walking apps, whether Android, iPhone or Windows Phone. As you suggested, I tried to find a public site to put my GPX files on as I appreciate you don't want me to email them to you as you don't know me from Eve! However, it's proved to be a bit trickier than I thought. I'm using OSMaps to import and tidy up the GPX tracks but you can only export them from there if you have a Premium OSMaps subscription. Similarly, as Leonard Will said, I could put them on Viewranger (where some countryway routes created by Geoff Nicholson already exist) but although you can download and 'follow' the route that way, you can't export the GPX file so this is only any good if you are using Viewranger on an Android phone. I can't think of anywhere else I can publicly share them online so am afraid I'm giving up.....unless you have any other suggestion.

JEM said...

Just finished Horsley to West Byfleet. Not the most beautiful section so far (Redhill to Box Hill wins that), but interesting changes in scenery.

We again got a bit lost in woodland (did so on the previous section) because there is no indication of distance in the guide. It would really help if occasionally, it was indicated if you had to stay on a particular path for 200 metres, or 2 km. When we've lost the trail, it's usually because we turn off too soon.

Des de Moor said...

Ann: thanks for this. Yes, I agree it would be useful to have GPX files -- but my slight issue with the idea is that I don't actually own a GPS, I'm a bit old-fashioned in that respect in that I like to navigate with paper maps, so wouldn't find them that easy to check. Of course I could check them against an online map but that wouldn't be the same as checking them in the field. I guess I could use yours with a disclaimer -- but I also plan to rewalk and revise the route over the next year or so, and there's a chance the GPX would go out of synch with the written description.

You can put GPX files on Google Maps, if that's of any interest. It's free, all you need is to set up a Google account if you don't already have one and you can create your own maps in My Maps and My Places. You can export them from there too. Admittedly it's not totally intuitive and of course you don't get the OS base map.

JEM: Thanks for comment and sorry you got a bit lost. The reason I avoid giving specific distances in the guide is that not everyone can make sense of them, but yes I know in woodland in particular it can get tricky. When I rewalk the route I will look again at all the route descriptions and see if I can be clearer. Like all sections that one has it's interest, I seem to remember walking it on a very hot day. It's also the one with the problem with the missing bridge -- did that cause problems for you?

Sheltz said...

Hi Des

I've just started the LCWY with a friend and we are walking a section one day each week. Your blog and description of the route has been invaluable. I'm using a .gpx file downloaded, a garmin tracker (with OS) and your route guides to ensure that we don't get lost. The guides have been very accurate thus far. We started 3 weeks ago in King's Langley and next week we shall be doing the Broxbourne to Theydon Bois section. I have to say that the walk from Welham Green station to Broxbourne was delightful and the walk through Wormley Woods was particularly fabulous!

Thank you for your efforts. I'll keep you informed about how it goes (if you're interested.)


Anonymous said...

This looks terrific - having done the Capital Ring and the LOOP, I was looking for another outer London orbital path to do by public transport and this seems perfect. One question: are the section distances shown in miles anywhere? Thanks!

Leonard Will said...

Yes, I can thoroughly recommend the route, having started it last autumn and finished it a month or so ago, with a break for the worst of the winter.

I'd recommend getting used to distances in km, rather than bothering to convert them to miles. As the OS maps show 1 km squares, it is easy to estimate distances there by checking how many squares you need to cover. You can set GPS tracking applications to show distances in km too. I find that my average speed, including stops, is about 3 to 3.5 km/h, so I can use that to estimate time too. (Des seems to go faster, from his time estimates!)

Incidentally, being pedantic, I might just mention that when Des refers to "aluminium gates" he is usually talking about steel gates coated probably with zinc (galvanised). Both a matt silvery colour, but a different metal - I checked with a magnet!

Des de Moor said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and support.

John: glad you're finding the posts useful. Yes please do tell me how you get on. I've just started rewalking the route and checking the descriptions, will also be adding to the commentaries of some of the early ones are fairly basic. Just did Sole Street to Borough Green but not had time to write it up yet. If you have any specific comments or find problems, it would be good if you could add them on the specific section page.

Anon: I'm afraid the only place you'll find miles mentioned here is in historical stuff and quotes. I much prefer metric measurements and took a decision early on that as this was my own personal blog I'd do without adding all the conversions I normally have to do when I'm writing for money! I agree with Leonard that if you're working with OS maps etc it's much easier in the long term to get used to working with km. But if you want to convert just go to Google and type in "convert x km to miles".

Leonard: the timings are indeed based on 4 km/hour, which usually works for me so long as the terrain isn't too difficult. Do you think I should reduce it? Thanks for the metallurgical correction -- I'll just say 'metal gates' in future!

Leonard Will said...

Des - I don't think your time estimates are all that important - as long as you give the distance people can work out the time according to their personal speed. It depends, too, how much time you allow for stops for refreshments, reading notices, looking around, taking photographs and so on. At 77 years old I am probably slower than average!

Duncan Cameron said...

Hi Des

On Friday I finished the London Countryway at Gravesend after starting last September at Sunningdale (the nearest section to where I live). I continued to St Albans before deciding that I wanted to finish the walk at Gravesend. So then continued from Gravesend, round to Sunningdale, then from St Albans to the end.

I did only a few sections in the the winter and spring but one section each week since middle April.

Your route guidance has been great, no real problems beyond the occasional left/right confusion. Looking back the most enjoyable sections were those in the Chilterns.

I want to thank you for all the work that you have done, and continue to do. I also followed your guide for the Hillingdon Way as a break from the LCW.

Des de Moor said...

Thanks Duncan, glad you found the pages useful and enjoyed the Countryway -- and the Hillingdon Trail!

Simon said...

Hi Des
I plan to walk the NW section of this path on my way from Cambridge to Southampton to see my nephew picking up it up near St Albans and leaving it near Lane End. I can't imagine how much time it must have taken you to walking and writing and so feel a little cheeky in asking if by any chance you have directions going the opposite way (ie anticlockwise}?

Des de Moor said...

Hello Simon and good luck with your walk. You won't be surprised to know I have no intention of writing the whole thing again in the other direction! Though I do plan to continue, when I get time, working my way round again and updating the descriptions. My best suggestion is to use my description to pencil the route onto an OS map (or some electronic equivalent) and follow that when you walk it.

Unknown said...

Thanks Des for the luck and your suggestion - I'll do exactly that. Thanks again Simon

Mike said...

Chesterton's book has long been out of print. I was able to get hold of an old library copy (from Marlow I think) in 2012 and I completed the walk from Windsor in 2014. It is very dated in some places - try crossing the main East coast rail line at ground level today and you won't get anywhere near it! It really was ahead of its time, pre-dating the North Downs Way, Wealdway and Greensand Way, which all follow large parts of the Countryway. I'm sure without your website to go on Des, I would have spent many hours of needless floundering! I had to make do without you on the North East sections and found it impossible to follow the original route through Epping Forest. Brentwood was just boring. I later wrote up the Horsley/West Byfleet leg for another website, which you were kind enough to comment on (just read your comments today).

Des de Moor said...

Hi Mike: thanks for this and glad you found the website useful. Yes, East Coast main line is one of those places I've made a substantial tweak to the route. Keith's book didn't quite predate the North Downs Way, which opened in 1978, and of course the route had been in planning and preparation for a long time before that. Indeed the original idea was to create a circuit that linked the NDW and the Ridgeway, although it soon became apparent the latter was too far out. The Countryway route quite deliberately uses alternative routes to the NDW for part of the southern stretch but follows some of the really classic sections around Reigate and Box Hill. He was also aware of the likely alignments of the Greensand Way and Wealdway as planning for these was well advanced when he was working on the first edition. But yes I don't any of this detracts from his foresight, nor the delights of the walk today. The one thing I'm worried about now is the Lower Thames Crossing which is likely to be even more disruptive than the M25 was.

Unknown said...

My younger son (a young lad, when pictured in my book) directed me to this description. When I met you at the NDW anniversary celebration, I didn't realise you'd done so much.I spent an afternoon of my lockdown reading much of the commentary.

Congratulations on your work updating my original book. I'm sure your alterations to the route in response to changes in the countryside over the years have improved it. I'm grateful for your work Bringing the route into more public use.

One small niggle - I'm sorry you couldn't find space for some of the people associated with the route - I'm thinking particularly of John Ball and William Grindcobbe, those heros of the Peasants Revolt at St Albans or of Thomas Willingale imprisoned for his fight to keep Epping Forest open to the public. But, of course, space is limited.

Well Done and Thanks - Keith Chesterton

OliviaAshby said...
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harryalby said...
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Electric AGA said...

Very good post. Thanks for sharing it !

London Rambler said...

Having previously completed the Capital Ring and just done the London Loop I was looking around for something else.
Unfortunately, travel to and from the various London Loop stages (mostly two at a time) was a wee bit "challenging", especially with the strikes.
I fear that completing the London Country Way would be an absolute nightmare from the point of view of getting there and back.

Des de Moor said...

Thanks for comment London Rambler. The Countryway is more challenging and rural and the sections between stations tend to be longer, but it's still doable by trains from London (assuming they're running). And well worth it.

John Myerson said...

A useful application for seeing and editing GPX files is There is a subscription for using OS maps but it's worth it as you can have the maps and GPX on your phone too.