Underground Overground Underwater - Part 2

By Rob Last edited 159 months ago
Underground Overground Underwater - Part 2

Yesterday we introduced you to Tom Marlow and Gavin White, two very insane brave and imaginative souls who decided last year that it would be a good idea to cycle to every Underground station in London (including the disused and abandoned ones) as well as swim in every outdoor and unheated pool, pond and lido in the capital to boot.

When we left them yesterday they'd just stopped for a well-deserved chicken burger at the end of day three, so below you'll find the final half of their journey.

We'd just like to say thanks very much to Tom and Gavin for letting us reproduce their story on our site, and we should also remind you that details of the two charities who benefited from this madness can be found at the end of the post.


Day Four: Epping to Vauxhall

The fourth day starts with an FEB in the Epping Co-Op. Six items for two pounds. Onwards to Theydon Bois but the legs feel heavy after last night’s refreshments and Gav’s wheel is wonky too. We look out for footballers’ wives in Chigwell and Grange Hill (160) is disappointing after such a build-up whistling the theme tune and talking about flying sausages.

At Seven Sisters (175) we stop to change our plans. We’ll leave the rest of the Piccadilly Line and instead head home via the city, the legs just aren’t flowing today.

We head up to Manor House and down to Finsbury Park. Around the back we run into deserted streets dotted with stalls selling Arsenal regalia who are busy in a second-half comeback to equal the unbeaten league record set by Forest.

York Road and City Road (185) are both disused stations before we enter the City of London at Shoreditch. Thankfully, the stations come easily and we buzz around Bank, Monument and St Paul’s (195) before nipping over the river to bag Lambeth North and Waterloo before coming back over to dip our toe into the West End. But we’re both tired now and so after Covent Garden we turn our weary wheels south, just time for a quick stop on Vauxhall Bridge next to the MI6 building to admire the sunset and throw a penny in the river for luck and then home.

Day Five: Balham to Queensway

On the fifth day we mop up the southern end of the Northern Line and another extremity of the District Line, Wimbledon, stopping in Action Bikes to replace Gav’s non-existent brake blocks.

After East Putney we cross the river and spend and throw another penny in before Putney Bridge. Then it’s West London’s crown jewels, Fulham Broadway, Barons Court, Knightsbridge (233). Lunch in High St Ken with Bill and then a swim in the murky Serpentine. Into the West End packed with tourists around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Getting along Oxford Street is a slow slog against the buses, people and taxis. This is the worst cycling we’ve had to do and it’s a relief to head north to Baker Street. It’s time for coffee in Bayswater rich people watching and then home.


Day Six: Richmond to Hampstead

It’s the last day of our journey and the weather is perfect, a fresh, crisp sunny September day in London. The bikes are all fit and we leave Balham at dawn for Richmond after a quick stop en route at Marc Bolan’s memorial in Barnes.

Two early morning rowers pass beneath us on Kew Bridge as we throw another penny in for luck and head along the Chiswick High Road for Hammersmith. Notting Hill Gate (270) is strangely calm before the oncoming hordes in their millions turn up for the carnival this weekend. It’s going to be a long day but we may as well do it in style.

After breakfast in Raoul’s near Little Venice where scrubbed up MCC members are turning up for kippers and toast before the C&G final we ride past a phalanx of the Royal Horse Artillery and take our time to get a photo of the wrong and right zebra crossings in Abbey Road.

St John’s Wood is crowded with ruddy-faced cricket fans from Gloucestershire and Worcestershire looking for Lords. We leave the melee and carry on in a northwest direction. After Neasden we find a nice little path along the River Brent near Tokyngton and go past a burnt out Transit in a bush before coming to a temporary fence blocking the way. Luckily someone has already flattened it and we carry on past an overgrown path flanked by a concrete wall behind which large gravel heaps loom. The fence at the other end has also been pushed in enabling us to emerge into an industrial estate near Wembley Park.

The ultra modern stadium complete with its newly erected handle looks out of place in such a tatty area of taxi garages, non-descript businesses and tenement blocks.

Onwards to Preston Road. The last of the Metropolitans, sitting like a mock Tudor house in a row of shops. At Queensway a monolithic monument to the Underground stands proudly in the middle of a roundabout. Cool. Stanmore means we have completed another line, we are slowly running out of stations just as we start feeling like we could go on for ever.

After lunch in Edgware we head back into town. It takes half an hour to get over the junction at Brent Cross, a truly abysmal shopping park. The civilised order of Golders Green comes as a relief as we go up the hill in search of the Bull and Bush abandoned station and then enter Hampstead Heath to swim in Highgate Ponds (male). It’s a fantastic pond, clear, fresh and deep, we swim past a grey heron. On the way out a man looking the part in racing cyclist garb tells us he used to go to Edmonton Lido and knew a man there who was Mr Universe.

The mixed pond is murkier and we don’t stay long before hopping over Parliament Hill for the incredible views over London and down to Gospel Oak Lido. It’s another well kept pool with friendly staff but we double the number of people in it. The cold water is getting through to the core for the first time so a hot shower before we leave to take on the last 20 stations.

North London is the hilliest part of the city, Highgate is a toughie and High Barnet (302) is true to its name too. We could do with some downhills as we start the final leg heading east to Cockfosters, negotiating white trash in hot hatches.

Southgate has an impressive Art Deco station that looks as if a UFO has landed. At Turnpike Lane a young man insists on showing us the right way to Camden Town. I bet conversations like this have taken place on this same spot for hundreds of years. So we run up along Green Lanes and then right down Seven Sisters crossing the Hornsey and Holloway Roads, there’s just so much to this city.

By Kentish Town (310) the sun is setting and we’ve been cycling since six. South Kentish Town is now a Cash Converters. We move to Mornington Crescent diagonally. Four more. Saturday night is gearing up in Camden Town. Over the lock where a gaggle of punks are looking worried. Chalk Farm and up the hill to Belsize Park. It’s just a matter of keep on keeping on. The hill rises steeply before us as the shops get smarter and we are in Hampstead. Finished.


We visited 316 stations. We cycled 400 miles from country lanes through suburbia in to the city back through industrial wasteland to satellite towns and back in again to skyscrapers and world heritage sites. We supported the London Pools campaign. We raised a bit of money for charidee. We had one puncture. We did the Underground Overground.

See londonpoolscampaign.com for more information on the campaign to save London’s pools and our visit to Charlton Lido. Underground Overground also supported the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture and Tools For Self Reliance.

© Tom Marlow

Last Updated 23 September 2005