The first paper edition of the London Greenground Map came out a year ago and included 380 parks & open spaces and 12 inspiring green lines for walking and cycling between parks. First map also included viewpoints, ferry piers and suggestions for outdoor activities such as kayaking, outdoor swimming and bird watching. This small pocket map got lot of media interest and people loved the concept – 1000 maps sold out by the beginning of this year.
The second edition of the London Greenground Map aims to keep the spirit of the first map, but expands the concept wider, now including twice as many parks in London to give more scope to explore. I’ve also included six more green & blue lines and an art line. The upgraded map is twice the size of the original map and printed on the recycled paper with sustainable inks, yet comes with the same price tag as the original.
Second edition includes several new interesting lines. Additionally to the official TFL and Ramblers’ LOOP line that appeared as an outer border on the first map, the new edition of the Greenground Map now also includes the highly requested Capital line, connecting the parks and open spaces of this popular walking path. And the LOOP is no longer the outer border – the map now breaks through the London Orbital, creating links with the countryside beyond.
In south the map now includes the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a section of North Downs Way from Box Hill to Sevenoaks. The Thames Downs line connects the Thames to the North Downs Way. The detailed directions can be viewed here. On the east the the two lines are connected by the Darent Valley line that runs from Dartford to Sevenoaks.
The Royal Line now extends up to Windsor taking in the famous Windsor Great Park and The Long Walk as well as few historic green spaces along the way such as Runnymede. Additionally to Darent the new river lines now also include Ravensbourne in South-East and Roding in North-East, both connecting Thames with LOOP line.
The Line – London’s first dedicated public art walk is now on the map as Art line, passing several parks and green spaces on the way. Starting from Queen Elizabeth Park it goes through the Three Mills Green and Cody Dock before crossing the Thames to Greenwich Peninsula. More detailed map with the artworks can be seen here.
Brompton Dock icons now point where to hire a Brompton bike for cycling between green spaces inside London or even for outdoor adventures further out in the countryside. The more detailed map with exact locations is here.
Second edition also includes city farms and this TimeOut article highlights some. I’ve also added icons for selected campsites around London for getting out to nature. Couple of outdoor bouldering sites make another interesting day out.
With twice as many green spaces, seven new lines and more outdoor activities to discover I hope the second map will be an inspiration for both existing and new London Greenground explorers 🤞
The second paper edition of the Greenground Map is now available in my store for £10 (postage included).
Bristol map is the third map of the Greenground Map series and connects the parks and open spaces to inspire walks (and bike rides) inside and further out in the city. With 10 inspiring green lines and around 250 green spaces to explore, the map does not only include the inner Bristol, but expands to other areas such as coastal town Portishead as well as links to surrounding countryside; also including the Bristol and Bath railway Path – a walking and cycling path to neighbouring city Bath.
Bristol’s most famous and recognisable landmark is River Avon, which also becomes the first line on the map. River Avon Trail is also the most easiest line to navigate, running from Avonmouth to Bath. I’ve included two more river lines – Frome and Hazel Trym that offer nice walks along the riverbank, if not all the way then at least on some sections on the line. The Woody Line in the West of Bristol covers the leafiest area – Leigh Woods and Ashton Court as well as some of the nature preserves further away.
As Bristol is very creative city and the street art has become a very important scene over the past years I also included a Street Art line which includes some more nature inspired works. The Upfest festival location on North Street is one of the main areas to see murals such as One Love Coral Reef by Louis Masai or Cheeky Seagull near the Greville Smyth Park. Park murals also include Ollie Gillard’s nature murals in the Redcatch Park, a new St George Park mural and Eurasian Lynx by ATM near King’s Square.
Working on this map was an opportunity to take a walk down to memory lane, as I walked and cycled all over and up & down Bristol during my MA. I remember long walks to Bower Ashton from Bedminster on weekends and crossing the misty Avon on the bike on my way to work in the mornings. Although I know few of the routes covered on this map, there are many more I haven’t walked on and making this map has been truly mind expanding. I hope you enjoy using this map as much as I did making it!
It’s been a while since my last post and I thought it’s about time I created something new! As the London Greenground Map has turned out to be my most successful project so far with 46,000 downloads and 500 paper maps sold up to now, I have decided to keep creating these schematic walking maps, which people like and I love making. So the next map in the Greenground series is another green capital – Edinburgh! 🏰⛰️
Edinburgh is much more compact than London and this map aims to connect most Edinburgh parks and open spaces and some further afield. I have not included Queensferry as I wanted to keep the diamond shape of the map, but I am open to all suggestions & comments to make this map spread wider in future versions. Right now it covers around 220 Edinburgh open spaces and has 9 creative green and blue lines.
Those who follow me on Twitter know I base my maps on Google Maps, which is great tool to work with, but is not always accurately showing all the green spaces. For Edinburgh map I also used Parks and Gardens list of Edinburgh Council to find smaller parks. Some of these parks do not come up on Google maps and can be located using this directory. The Muir line is based on John Muir Way and more detailed maps can be seen on their website.
Edinburgh is a very walkable city and also in a walking distance from the countryside. To show this I extended the lines to south up to Pentland Hills Regional Park, that’s only 6 miles away from the centre or 8 miles via scenic Water of Leith walking path. However walking and cycling from Edinburgh can be challenging due the bypass that divides Edinburgh & the great outdoors as well as numerous golf clubs that are green, but closed off from public.
The Edinburgh map is in chillier tones than London map, reflecting the cool northern vibe. I’ve only visited Edinburgh during low light autumn/winter season and I think it’s a beautiful quiet time of year to walk in the parks & by the seaside and follow the river paths on the bike. As we are heading to this season now I hope the map helps Edinburgh locals to get out and discover new green spaces during this winter. 🚶♀️🚴
I am taking a step back this week and looking more into the background of London multiple wayfinding systems to make connections and see, where the current project could be positioned and if there’s a room for more wayfinding. So here are different levels of pedestrian and cycling navigation systems I have currently identified. There are many more, of course, but this gives some idea of what the people on the ground level are faced with.
The time when simple signs here and there were considered job well done is long past and the systems are becoming increasingly more complicated to develop and implement. On the other hand it is also becoming a skill to read these systems effectively and make the connections between different wayfinding systems. Whether we want it or not, it’s likely we use many systems in one day to find our way in the city.
When Legible London by Applied Wayfinding launched in 2007 it was a groundbreaking A to B walking system and attempt to unify all the different signage in London. I think it has been a huge success and I remember what difference it made between mid 2000s when I first started visiting London and on 2010 when I lived there. I’ve also used it every time on my London visits since and it’s one of the best executed systems I know. However, I still find that maps that show streets around you in about 5-20 min radius are sometimes hard to connect. Applied wayfinding itself admits in their research that at the time they conducted it nearly half (44,7%) of people used London Underground map for planning the journey.
TFL transport maps
The TFL transport maps and signage is the most used wayfinding system in the city. These practical and straightforward maps are meant to be understood by anyone (residents and visitors alike). However as London is growing the TFL maps have also become more complicated, trying to include more information that can make the maps less legible. The current tube map is far more information heavy than it used to be a decade ago, but I think it still remains one of the best navigation maps in the city. Journey planner is a handy tool for quick travel planning and now also includes alternative transport, but it can limit the overview of the whole network. I always prefer to have a ‘real’ map as a backup to see where I am actually going.
Walk London Network
The Walk London Network is the network of walking paths in and around London originally created by Ramblers. Mainly intended for leisure walking and hiking these paths aim to take people to more natural areas and pathways. The difference between Legible London and Walk London Network is the intention of the walk – first being a wayfinder in the urban environment and second mainly for leisure walking and hiking. The waymarking on these trails are more hidden depending on the location and you may need an additional map to accompany the walk. Taking these paths require more preparation, including some map reading skills.
Each council such as Hounslow for example has their own wayfinding systems for local interest. Public pathways, riverside walks, placemakers in the town centres and park maps. These are all grown from local initiative and represent an important part of the community. They also give identity for the neighbourhood and can be modern or traditional, even spread across several boroughs. So it’s very possible than by walking around one neighbourhood you come across to quite a few different wayfinding systems, maps and signs along the way.
Site specific signage applies for example to college grounds, entertainment sites and shopping districts. These are often modern and cutting edge signage systems to find specific points of interest on the grounds. Most of the times these systems are site specific and not visually connected to other external systems. For example both Barbican and Wembley Park have developed site specific wayfinding and signage. Also, the Royal Parks have their own mapping and signage system that is applied London wide and across several boroughs.
The London cycle network has its own layered wayfinding system I know less about, as I have not cycled as much in London as I have walked (it always seemed too dangerous before). It also has changed significantly due to new cycleways and signs that are implemented right now. So I am yet to explore this further, but according to my local informant Angus there are several systems that are yet to be connected with each other and to nation wide cycle network.
This seems a lot, but London is a very complex city and it’s not surprising it needs multiple levels of signage for transport, walking and cycling. Is there a room for Greenground navigation in this? I think so as it represents a different side of London that is not transport specific and opens up a whole new experience for many people.
Twitter thread with signage, maps and systems shared by Londoners. Thank you everyone who contributed to this thread! 🙏
The newest of London Greenground maps has more fluid lines, especially for Thames line that now follows the river more naturally, includes 100 more parks with 400 parks and open spaces total and as a new feature shows the walking distances between parks. I have also began to locate the green ways that are long linear parks usually by the waterway or railway tracks and sketched in some new suggestions for creative walking loops. 🚶♀️♾️
This diametrical map does not show the exact routes, but rather acts as a starting point in planning more precise journeys. The distance line lengths between parks and open spaces vary as the walking routes are not always straightforward and at times can be quite winding. This is why a mile on a map is represented with considerable difference. However I hope the map gives a larger scope for someone planning a green route in Greater London.
In most cases the distances are calculated from park centre to park centre and sometimes, especially with large parks, the walking distance between differs. For example Kensington and Hyde Park are next to each other and could be crossed over in minutes, but walking from centre to centre is a mile long route and takes considerably more time. As no one would be walking only to the edge of the park I thought centre distances would make more sense.
The loops and lines that make up the map are suggestions rather than fixed routes and the main intention of the map is to show London as one connected green network and encourage active movement between parks and along the waterways. Currently not all the London roads are quiet or safe because of traffic, but hopefully this will change soon when more people are becoming interested in active travel. 🚶♀️🚴♂️
This minimal map shows only parks and green spaces as point of interest as well as all the bus stops in Greater London. You can either search for a park and see which bus stops are closest or alternatively, if you know the bus stop you’re going to, you can look out for green spaces nearby. For example you can enter Brockwell Park in the search box and have a bird-eye view of all the nearby stops.
Some parks only have one or two bus stops nearby, but most bigger parks have several stops to choose from. For example Alexandra Park does not have just one Alexandra Park stop, you can go to Garden Centre, Palm Court, Ice Rink or Alexandra Palace Park.
Battersea Park similarly has more than one station as entry point to the park. For example, if you are planning a walk by the Thames starting from Battersea Park/Chelsea Gate and finishing in Albert Bridge stop across the river might be the best route for you.
Of course Google Maps is more practical for journey planning, but the aim of this map is to give uncluttered overview and a start-point for exploration. Especially if you are someone who likes to spend time in green spaces and also really happens to like bus stops.
Last month I was commissioned to create a map for Geographical Magazine to illustrate a story of urban greening in Brazil featured in their December issue. The editor Paul Presley requested for an area map of Minhocão – the highway planned to be converted into a park, but otherwise I didn’t have lot of information to begin with. So I took some time to read about the project, although the timeline was tight and came up with a flat map featuring an ‘elevated’ highway that has gone through a green transformation.
I highlighted the green areas in the neighbourhood and ‘closed off’ the 3 km stretch of highway to cars by adding pedestrian and cycling lane with icons. I also added extra foliage, seating and shades as well as new access points such as elevators. Although the area map is based on real map, the illustration is theoretical and does not reflect the real conditions and plans, but I very much hope it helps to reimagine the motorway as green space that is open for sustainable walking and cycling.
Lottie Watters’ article is a fascinating and critical view of what becomes of the area after it has been greened. She draws comparisons with High Line at New York and Rambla de Sants in Barcelona as well as notes the doubt and mixed feelings in community – it’s a story definitely worth to read for anyone interested in the effects of urban greening. Through working on an infographic map to illustrate her writing I personally have learned a lot of the area I beforehand was not familiar with.
Perhaps one day I have an opportunity to visit and see if the project turned out as I imagined it. 🤞
Greening the ‘Big Worm’ is an article by Lottie Watters in this month’s Geographical Magazine, December 2019
In the season when everything is roller-coasting around shopping it’s easy to forget Christmas is not only about spending. In fact you’d feel much happier to spend some time outdoors, see the city in festive spirit and pick up some gifts on the go. Depending on your budget bring enough to buy warm drinks and street snacks or even take some with you – there’s nothing nicer than a flask of tea and home-made fruitcake or gingerbreads to keep you going while exploring.
Trafalgar Square Christmas is not the same without the smell of a spruce tree and every year the City of London orders one from Norway to stand in the square centre. It’s a tradition that’s been going on for years and switching on the light ceremony this year is on December 5th at 6 pm (mark your calendars!). There will be speeches and carol singing on the night and every evening through December (singing, not speeches). As the open Christmas venue organised by the city this public tradition will get 10 points out of 10. Bring a hot drink, friends or family and enjoy the holiday spirit.
Southbank Centre Walking by the Thames is nice all over the year, but during Christmas the area gets a special makeover for the season, with lights and markets popping up everywhere. Atmospheric Southbank Centre winter market is open for two months from November, bringing the buzz and light to the river. No doubt it will be busy and popular with locals and visitors alike, but if you get overwhelmed you can always step aside and enjoy the views over the river with cup of cocoa, either bought from one of the cosy looking cabins or kept warm in the home brought flask.
Borough Market For the foodies Borough Market is a great destination on weekends all around the year, but in December it opens every day with seasonal food, decorations and it’s own Christmas tree. You can easily spend a fortune there, but you don’t have to. The samples are often free and if you pick up one or two food items you really liked you can either give them as gifts or have them as special treats in Christmas. Even if you really are on a budget (for example working as independent illustrator!) you can still spoil your taste puds with a doughnut or cinnamon bun from one of the vendors.
Somerset House There are many ice skating spots popping up in London, but the one in Somerset House is the oldest and one of most beautiful. Even if you don’t plan to skate, you can still watch other skaters and take in the holiday vibe of the beautifully decorated square with its Christmas tree and lights. You can even have hot chocolate while’re watching, but it’s not exactly cheap and you may want to pick one up before heading to the Somerset House. If you bring your own sustainable thermo cup, it will last for longer. At the end you may decide to give a go on skates as well.
Carnaby Street Many streets are lighting up for Christmas, but Carnaby street is special this year as all its decorations are recycled and sustainably produced. It’s called Carnaby x Project Zero and this years theme is ocean diversity. There are plenty of street lights in London, but this one is the first to be produced with zero waste from start to end. Even the energy used was renewable! Fingers crossed next year all the others will follow this initiative. When you’re done with admiring the sea creatures you could head to Chinatown and pick up some authentic street food on the go.
Covent Garden Although shopping in the area is one of London’s most expensive the market lights and decorations are free to see for everyone and if not exactly the place for shopping spree you can find a small gift or two. I personally would pop by at Stanfords to pick up a specialist travel book either as a present for myself or to a friend. You could even go to the British Museum later, with more than 60 free galleries there is plenty to see any time of the year. The quirky Clocks and Watches room with the display of wooden cuckoo clocks and golden pocket watches sounds especially seasonal.
Greenwich There’s more in Greenwich than the Christmas market, although walking around the village and admiring decorated shop fronts could be your main activity of the day. There are plenty of priced activities and this year, for the first time, skating opens up in Royal Museums. Either if you’re skating or not you can still take in the magical vibe at the Queen’s House and watch the skaters whizzing by in their colourful hats and scarves. When you get overwhelmed by holiday buzz, find a quiet spot in the park for treats you brought from home or picked up at the market.
Tower Bridge London’s most magnificent bridge is not less magnificent at Christmas and lighten’s up this part of the city in darker evenings. With Christmas market on one side and Tower of London on the other this area has plenty activities including ice skating next to Tower. But even just a walk along the bank in the dusk is atmospheric to see Christmas tree and seasonal art installations near the City Hall, with views over Tower Bridge in the background. You can also take a stroll over the bridge and admire winter lights from the heights. Dress warm as it can get quite nippy.
Natural History Museum Another museum that is magical in Christmas. Not only because there’s a skate ring next to it, but in wintery light the cake like museum really looks festive. You may think Natural History Museum is about dusty skeletons and extinct species, but the truth is very far from it. The museum has many different collections and even a huge Mineralogy collection with rocks, gems, ores and even meteorites. As the dark skies are lit up during Christmas, this is an ideal time to explore the stars in close contact and add the sparkle to the day.
Camden Market If you want to get lost in alternative Christmas reality then Camden Market is just the place for it. You can easily spend half a day exploring the quirky shops and stalls in the depths of Camden and if you get tired, pick up some food from the diverse food outlets to eat on the canal side. Even if you don’t find anything to buy (although there’s plenty of funky and weird stuff), you’ll still have festive time with live music, seasonal food and decorations livening up one of the oldest street markets in London.
With street markets, skating rings and lights there’s plenty to explore this season. And while you are walking keep an eye out for real spruce trees as well, growing in local parks and on the streets. With all the pimped up trees across the city, there is nothing more beautiful than a real thing. Christmas is open. Get outdoors and enjoy the season! 🌲
I am not a big camper, in fact over the past ten years the times I’ve been out camping is probably less than I can count on my two hands. I have travelled a lot, but as a light traveller I’ve never seen a point of carrying heavy load on my back all the time. For me the ideal rucksack can fit into the airplane luggage holder and the destination has, however basic, bed for the night.
But recently I have been wondering what it’s like to get away from it all and explore the wilderness in more open way than just by making day trips to nearby nature sights. Perhaps also, living in Estonia means you find very quickly the flights are much more expensive than in central Europe and you have to start planning differently.
When I was younger I always wanted to travel south because of the sun and exotic destinations or to cities for the buzz and excitement, but now I start to be fascinated of the north and the opportunities it has for the nature traveller. As many I’ve been cutting back my long-haul travels and decided to travel more locally. North has plenty of options and openness.
Comparing to South and Central Europe North is still lot wilder and more forested, with less cultivated land. When in southerns countries wild camping is illegal as there is always a danger to trespass on someones land, in most north countries wild camping is legal by law. It’s called the ‘right to roam’ as long as visitors are respectful to people and environment.
However, depending on the countries, the rules vary and if Sweden is welcoming the visitors with open hands, Iceland has a rule you can camp in the wild only if there’s no camping site nearby. Most countries have one night stay rule and Scotland does not allow camping in popular national parks. Wherever you go, check with local visitor information.
The right of access also means you are free to walk and hike in nature or forage mushrooms, berries or herbs. Imagine setting your tent up by a beautiful lakeside, listening the nature and picking your own wild food such as lingonberries. I’d be careful with mushrooms unless you are expert, but a nettle tea sounds quite nice doesn’t it?
I don’t think I’d be going wild camping any time soon – it’s a skill to acquire as anything else and I may start with more regular campsites.. But I like the idea of the open wilderness that still exists in this part of Europe. It’s good to know the nature of the North is open for everyone, if you are brave enough to face the wilderness. ⛺
After taking a creative break in Edinburgh I’m back in discovering the natural wonders of London. So todays infographic/map is about waterfalls! Waterfalls in London doesn’t really sound likely, but London actually has quite a few waterfalls, although most of them are man-made. Some parks are quite well known for their water cascades such as Regent’s Park and Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, but did you know there’s a beautiful waterfall on the Carshalton Ponds in Sutton or a quirky brutalist style cascade in Barbican Estate?
There is something really tranquil about being near the water and sound of waterfall has a very calming effect. However with the loss of natural environment and man-made structures replacing the nature, the real waterfalls and cascading rivers in cities have become scarce. Artificial structures like ponds and steps may replace the nature, but they are far from being the real thing. If more city parks would have real streams and waterfalls this would help considerably to create quiet pockets, where to relax and enjoy the nature.
I’ve seen many amazing ‘real’ waterfalls around the world and you may argue cities are not a place for waterfalls, but I disagree. I think cities are exactly the right place for anything that would make it more natural/calm/wild/interesting and better for its residents. For example why couldn’t there be a waterfall park in London, where people in all ages could go to relax and hear the water flowing. River Wandle is hardly a Minoo Park, but maybe, with a little help, it could be? 🌊