Running the London tube lines – Part 3: The Bakerloo Line

Posted: December 1, 2016 in Writing
tube-mapThe Bakerloo Line
Total distance run: 14.8 miles
Time taken: 2 hours 40 minutes

The inaugural run in my quest to run the length of all of London’s underground lines had gone well. I’d taken down the Victoria Line in a little under two hours and with barely a hitch (bar the early navigational issues resolved by the kindly old lady, and the ill advised bacon roll). Second on the list in terms of distance was the Bakerloo Line¹.

This was going to be my first real foray into significant uncharted territory. My Victoria Line run was for the most part through areas of London I knew well. This time, things were different. Sure I’d heard of Harlesden, Wembley, Harrow and Wealdstone, but I’d never thought to actually go there. But this was why I wanted to run the tube lines – to get out to these unknown quarters of London, to see what exactly was lurking out there beyond zone 1.

Once again I’d chosen a beautiful day for the run. I stepped out of the tube at Harrow and Wealdstone into a bright morning.hw And a car park. Keen not to repeat the fiasco of the Walthamstow bus terminal, I’d studied Google maps carefully and was fairly sure that I needed to turn left through the car park and head south on the A409 Station Road.

Once I start running, I don’t really like to stop to check the map unless I have to; it feels like I’m messing the with flow of the run or something. I don’t know. Anyway, this means I tend to take a fairly relaxed approach when it comes to running past every single station on the route. I made my peace with this early on. You could get all hung up on adhering to some set of self-imposed rules about running the tube lines, but, this was my thing. This kind of bespoke running was what really appealed to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like organised races, but this was just about taking it easy and being flexible; a reed bending in the wind.

Which it turned out was just as well, being a bending reed, as within the first few minutes I was totally lost again. I was heading for stop number two on the line, Kenton, but never found it. I did however spend a delightful few miles running through the suburbs in what felt like a trip back to the 1970s. The ‘burbs will always be the ‘burbs. Before long I spotted the enormous Wembley Stadium arch and headed towards it. This is something else I was learning on my quest to run around the fringes of the capital, that no matter how lost you think you are, just keep on going and sooner or later you’re sure to see something you recognise. I picked up the Bakerloo Line again at Stonebridge Park and a mile or so later I was crossing the North Circular somewhere just east of Ikea².

I was about five miles into the route by this stage and miles 5- 7 were through Harlesden. Unlike the area around Wembley which appeared to be predominantly Asian, Harlesden was full of jerk chicken shops and Caribbean groceries with amazing smells to match; there was even some guy with a big old oil drum barbecue right out in the middle of the street cooking up some kind of gnarly old blackened hunks of meat; it was all I could do to keep myself from grabbing one right off the grill as I raced past. In the end I stopped at Costa for an espresso and a croissant instead.

After the earthy streets of Harlesden became Kensal Green and the Harrow Road, I took the opportunity to cross the footbridge over the Regent’s Canal and run along the towpath for half a mile, popping out just before Little Venice. I was now in the decidedly upscale Maida Vale, home to hedge fund managers, plastic surgeons and old school rock stars. Here was another part of town I wasn’t totally sure of w/r/t geography, but with a pretty firm idea of the general direction I needed to go, before long I found myself around the back of Paddington Station. Always happy to run by the water’s edge I dropped back down to the canal as it enters Paddington Basin and ran through the new development there of apartment blocks and swanky restaurants.Up ahead I could see one of those public squares with the crazy fountain jets that shoot up straight out of the concrete at random intervals and ran straight through the middle of it, enjoying the refreshing spritzing³.

The last few miles were familiar territory as I headed along Marylebone High Street, past Baker Street and Regent’s Park and through Oxford Circus. As I crossed into Regent Street I was delighted to find that it was closed to traffic and I was able to run right down the middle of it, which as everyone knows is always way more fun than running on a pavement. I had to get back on the pavement fairly quickly however when the reason for the road closure became apparent: the cycling Tour of Britain was about to come through. I stopped to watch for a few minutes. This is another great pleasure of the bespoke run, that when wierd shit turns up out of the blue, you can just take a little break and enjoy it. Once I’d seen enough of the crazy guys on bikes I carried on for the final few miles. Except now I couldn’t seem to shake them. Every time I tried to go south the road had a peleton tearing along it at fifty miles and hour. Eventually I manged to find a stewarded crossing by Charing Cross and soon I was over the river, through the South Bank Centre, past Waterloo station and the final mile to the finish line at Elephant and Castle station. Two hours and forty minutes and a shade under fifteen miles.

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.¹I’m not going to include the Waterloo and City line. Partly because at only about 25 centimetres long it surely can’t qualify as a proper tube line and partly because personally, I don’t feel anything added to the tube network post 1977 really counts.

²That is so going to be the name of my fourth novel.

³If I’m honest this was less of a ‘spritzing’ and more of a ‘drenching’; it’s hard to judge just how much water those things pump out.

 

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  1. […] Running the London tube lines – Part 3: The Bakerloo Line […]

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