Drifting and striding with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Monday, September 12, 2016


“We are bored in the city, we really have to strain to still discover mysteries on the sidewalk.” – Ivan Chtcheglov.

A couple of sources have directed me to a rather good piece on Londonist.com, under the headline: How Far Can You Walk From Trafalgar Square Without Crossing A Road?  With the subheading Extreme walker Victor Keegan reckons you can journey over 17 miles without setting foot on the bitumen.

Keegan sets off from Trafalgar Square, and by using bridges, underpasses, and the banks of the Thames, manages to avoid crossing roads, and he ends up 17 miles away “somewhere in the Lea Valley.”

Of course at times he’s often walking on pavements (that’s sidewalks for my American readers) that are very adjacent to bitumen, but it’s a great expedition, and we all know the attractions of the “constrained” walk.

Here’s Keegan’s map:

And here’s a link to the piece:

I have nothing but respect for the man, but I fret about that term “extreme walker.”  I think, and hope, it’s the Londonist’s term rather than his own.  It seems to be asking for trouble, like that band called Extreme Noise Terror.  You listen to them and think, “I’ve heard more extreme, more terrifying noise than this.” And so with walking. However extreme your walking, you can be damn sure that somebody somewhere is doing something far more extreme.

Keegan says, reasonably enough, that he doesn’t think his 17 mile constrained walk would be possible in any other city, and I imagine he’s right.  You could certainly clock a fair distance on the west side of Manhattan but I’m not arguing.

In LA I think you’d be lucky to do more than a few hundred yards before you were forced to “set foot on bitumen.” And here where I live on the lower slopes of the Hollywood Hills there are no sidewalks at all (that’s pavement for my English readers).   You step out the front gate and you’re immediately in the road.  The nearest sidewalk – I just measured it - is a little over half a mile away.  True, you don’t cross any roads for that distance but that’s because you’re in the middle of one.  If you had a mind to, you could cover a good few sidewalk-free miles around the area's tight corners and blind bends.

There are a lot of Victor Keegans on the internet but this seems to be the man:

I see he has a blog post titled, “Walking from Trafalgar Square to Margate – without crossing a road.”  That does sound fairly extreme.

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