The London Loop (London Outer Orbital Path) provides a walking route around the periphery of the capital, comprising 140 miles of country-style footpaths linking together the secret ribbons of greenery that survive amid the urban scrawl.
There are excellent public transport links throughout the Loop making it one of the easiest long distance paths to complete in stages. You can devise your own walking sections to suit either your fitness level or the time you have available. The 'official' or generally recognised starting location is Erith Riverside in east London and from here the walk proceeds in a clockwise direction. The Loop can be divided into 15 sections, each representing a day walk of reasonable length and starting and finishing at a public transport point. This is the itinerary outlined in the London Loop Recreation Path Guide.
Another popular itinerary promoted by Transport for London divides the route into 24 sections, allowing for shorter walks, but still with public transport links at the beginning and end of each section. Once you begin to walk sections of the Loop we are sure your initial reaction will be one of surprise at how green and rural so much of the route is; rolling downs and ancient woodland, gentle streams, country parks and the big skies of the Thames estuary; in fact a breathtaking variety of landscape, and all within the London boundary.
We give below a summary of the route based upon the 24 stage itinerary devised by Transport for London. Detailed leaflets are available for each section from the London Strategic Walks Information Service. If you plan to walk several sections of the Loop the London Loop guidebook by David Sharp provides much more comprehensive information.
Erith Riverside to Old Bexley Village: The Loop starts following tracks by the vast open skies of the Thames estuary, then paths by the Rivers Darent and Cray. Easy walking on tracks and grass all of the way. Distance 8.5 miles.
Old Bexley Village to Jubilee Country Park: A walk through meadowland by the River Cray, then woodland paths to Scadbury Park and the lovely National Trust owned Petts Wood. Distance 7.25 miles.
Jubilee Country Park to West Wickham Common: Woodland tracks to Farnborough village, then good paths through rolling countryside through High Elms Country Park and over Keston and West Wickham Commons. Distance 9 miles.
West Wickham Common to Hamsey Green: Field paths and woodland paths up onto Addington Hills, then woodland again via two nature reserves and a final field path section. Distance 9 miles.
Hamsey Green to Coulsdon South: Good paths over the chalk of Riddlesdown and Farthing Downs, and tracks over two commons. Distance 6 miles.
Coulsdon South to Banstead Downs: A walk along an ancient track giving wide views. Then by field paths which lead to Oaks Park where you can see ancient gnarled oak trees. Another old track leads to Banstead Downs. Distance 4.25 miles.
Banstead Downs to Bourne Hall Park: Tracks over gentle downland, then a road section on to Nonsuch Park where there are traces of a great Tudor palace. Good tracks or pavements all the way. Distance 3.5 miles.
Bourne Hall Park to Kingston Bridge: Riverside paths by the gentle Hogsmill stream, then urban paths into Kingston where the route re-crosses the Thames. Distance 7.25 miles.
Kingston Bridge to Hatton Cross: Commencing the northern half of the Loop this section follows well-trodden paths over Bushy Park, and then stretches by the River Crane with its mysterious shot tower and a diversion by tracks over Hounslow Heath. Distance 8.5 miles.
Hatton Cross to Hayes and Harlington: Good track by the River Crane and then grass paths over Cranford Park and on to join the Grand Union Canal towpath with locks and colourful narrow boats to remind you of a more tranquil age. Distance 3.8 miles.
Hayes and Harlington to Uxbridge Lock: This section is a canal towpath walk with a diversion on good tracks over Stockley Park and via Little Britain Lakes to follow beside the River Colne. Distance 7.5 miles.
Uxbridge Lock to Harefield West: Another canal towpath walk that also follows tracks besides the lakes of Frays Valley Nature Reserve, Distance 4.5 miles.
Harefield West to Moor Park: A woodland path followed by a route across rolling fields to Bishop's Wood Country Park. An intriguing boundary path completes the walk. Distance 4.8 miles.
Moor Park to Hatch End: A walk across a golf course and an open space, mainly on grass, then tracks through Oxley Woods and field paths around Pinnerwood Farm meadows. Distance 3.8 miles.
Hatch End to Elstree: This is a longish section which initially climbs by a golf course up to the wooded Harrow Weald Common. This is followed by hard surfaced paths over Bentley Priory Open Space and then field paths leading to Aldenham Country Park lake and finally crossing meadows to Elstree. Distance 10 miles.
Elstree to Cockfosters: Another long section following good tracks through Scratchwood and Moat Mount Open Spaces, then field paths by the Dollis Brook and up to Monken Hadley village. Distance 10.5 miles.
Cockfosters to Enfield Lock: Firm tracks across Trent Country Park lead to rougher field paths across Enfield Chase. Distance 8.5 miles.
Enfield Lock to Chingford: This section crosses the broad Lea Valley and climbs to Gilwell Park and the shady groves of Epping Forest, where good woodland rides make easy walking, though sometimes muddy. Distance 4 miles.
Chingford to Chigwell: Woodland paths out of Epping Forest, then field paths over the Roding Valley and briefly into its nature reserve. A mix of forest tracks and meadow paths complete the walk. Distance 4.5 miles.
Chigwell to Havering-atte-Bower: A walk mainly on rough field paths and grass tracks in Hainault Forest and Havering Country Parks. Distance 6 miles.
Havering-atte-Bower to Harold Wood: Rough field paths, then better paths by Carter's Brook. Distance 4.3 miles.
Harold Wood to Upminster Bridge: Good surfaced tracks in Pages Wood, then rougher paths by the River Ingrebourne. Distance 4.3 miles.
Upminster Bridge to Rainham: Almost entirely on good surfaced paths down the Ingrebourne Valley and over Hornchurch Country Park. Distance 4 miles.
Rainham to Purfleet: Initially some road walking, but then a path by the Thames Estuary and a hard surfaced cycle track from then on.You can see your initial starting point at Erith across the Thames. Distance 5 miles.
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