The London Outer Orbital Path

A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick

Walkers will encounter many LOOP waymarks like this one.

Walkers will encounter many LOOP waymarks like this one.


Sections of the London Outer Orbital Path were opened as early as 1996, but the complete circuit was not ready for use until 2001 – the year I began to walk it with some of my friends. This was also the year for the first edition of David Sharp’s Recreational Path Guide (Aurum Press). One of the most useful features of this publication is its inclusion of excerpts from the relevant Ordnance Survey maps – no need, really, to purchase these separately then.

The LOOP is the walkers’ version of the M25, a continuous circuit of the capital – and one that brings with it an intimate acquaintanceship with London’s suburban green belt. There are plenty of ups and downs but no one would call its 150 or so miles strenuous ones. The stages are all reachable with the use of public transport, usually trains, sometimes even the underground, and this makes it an ideal route for the London-based walker. (I have added, in my mileage totals, the extra distance that may be needed to get to and from relevant stations.) Look out for a promised extension of the route from Coldharbour Point to Purfleet; it was not available when we finished the walk in 2007.

It is not necessary to walk each of the stages in order – and we certainly did not do so. But for those of you who would like to follow our exploits in the correct sequence, preparatory to your own ventures on the LOOP, let me offer you the following outline. You can always let me know how you got by leaving a message on the Contact Page.

Day 1: Erith to Old Bexley – 9 miles

Day 2: Old Bexley to Petts Wood – 8 miles

Day 3: Petts Wood to Hayes – 10 miles

Day 4: Hayes to Hamsey Green – 9 miles

Day 6: Hamsey Green to Banstead – 10.5 miles

Day 7: Banstead to Kingston – 11.5 miles

Day 8: Kingston to Hatton Cross – 10.5 miles

Day 11: Hatton Cross to Uxbridge – 11.5 miles

Day 5: Uxbridge to Moor Park – 10.5 miles

Day 12: Moor Park to Borehamwood – 12 miles

Day 13: Elstree to Cockfosters – 10.5 miles

Day 9: Cockfosters to Enfield Lock – 9 miles

Day 10: Enfield Lock to Chigwell – 8.5 miles

Day 14: Chigwell to Harold Wood – 11 miles

Day 15: Harold Wood to Rainham via Coldharbour Point  – 14 miles