Planning your London LOOP walk

Published 6 July 2016. Last updated 3 November 2023

The enchanting Harrow Weald Common

At 150 miles/240km long, the London Outer Orbital Path – or LOOP – is the walking equivalent of the M25: a route that circles the Greater London area and takes you on a tour of the edges of the capital city.

Although a walk that goes through many London suburbs, the LOOP offers an incredibly varied journey, passing through parkland, ancient woods, farmland, canals, rivers, and – because it goes through London – some roads and streets. As you walk along it, you’ll see a side to London you may never even knew existed.

As London never really gets particularly hilly, the LOOP is an easy walk to do, and generally straightforward to follow, although the quality of signposting can vary. It can be broken up in lots of different ways, allowing you to walk sections in lengths that suit your own needs and abilities.

By its nature, the LOOP is going to appeal most to residents of Greater London and parts of the South East who are seeking to walk it in day long hikes.

In this guide

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. The route
  3. Planning your walk
  4. Finding and booking accommodation
  5. Guide books and maps
  6. And finally, and any questions

What is the walk like?

It’s an explosion of purple!

Let’s get the elephant in the room tackled straight away. The LOOP is a walk that goes around the largest urban conurbation in the country. You need to expect that at least part of your day will be spent near busy roads or strolling down a housing estate. It’s just the way it is.

So don’t expect that this is a walk that has the tranquillity of the Yorkshire Dales, or the peacefulness of the South Downs. It won’t.

But go to the LOOP with an open mind and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There is far more to the LOOP than roads and houses. You’ll find yourself walking through ancient woodlands, marvelling at the fact that there is so much farmland within the Greater London boundary, being stunned as you arrive at the edge of a field of lavender or standing next to an oak tree where the intention to abolish slavery was made.

And that is where the LOOP excels. It challenges your preconceptions of London; makes you realise it has so much more to it than the bustle of the tube or the flocks of foreign tourists standing outside Buckingham Palace. This is a walk that will allow you to discover a different side to the city.

Yes you have to endure walking past homes, or spend part of your day negotiating dual carriageways, but the rest makes up for it.

The route

Want to have a look at the LOOP in more detail? Well this is a rough – and we mean rough – map for the whole walk.

Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route. Note that this map is a guide only, and should not be used for navigation.

Planning your walk

Deer in Bushy Park

The LOOP is a walk round London, and London has exceptionally good public transport. You’re never that far from a railway or tube station, and you’ll probably find yourself near a bus stop when you’re not.

The result is that there is an incredibly large number of ways you can split the LOOP up. The Transport for London website lists 24 short ‘sections’, usually between 5 and 8 miles long, which can be combined in various ways depending on your walking abilities and how much time you have. Even then, those sections can sometimes be broken up even further.

Because there are so many options, we’ve listed in the table below the distances between turn offs for the station. Using the table below, you can pick which stations to walk between.

The table is not an exhaustive list – in a handful of cases where two stations are located close by, we have only included the one that is closest to the LOOP. All stations are within half a mile of the LOOP, however the distance off route in order to get to the station is not shown.

Station Operator/Service Distance from previous station
    Miles Km
Erith Southeastern
to London Bridge and Cannon Street
Slade Green Southeastern
to London Bridge and Cannon Street
to London Bridge and Cannon Street
to London Bridge and Cannon Street
Petts WoodSoutheastern
to Victoria, or London Bridge and Cannon Street/Charing Cross
to Cannon Street or Charing Cross
Coombe LaneLondon Trams
to East Croydon
Whyteleafe 1 Southeastern
to Victoria or London Bridge
Coulsdon SouthSouthern and Thameslink
to London Bridge, Victoria, or Blackfriars and St Pancras
Banstead Southern
to London Victoria
Ewell West South Western
to Waterloo
Malden ManorSouth Western
to Waterloo
Berrylands South Western
to Waterloo
KingstonSouth Western
to Waterloo
FulwellSouth Western
to Waterloo
Hatton CrossLondon Underground
Piccadilly Line (Heathrow branch)
Hayes and Harlington Elizabeth Line (Crossrail)/Great Western
to Paddington
West Drayton Elizabeth Line (Crossrail)/Great Western
to Paddington
3 5
UxbridgeLondon Underground
Metropolitan Line (Uxbridge branch)
Piccadilly Line (Rayners Lane branch)
Moor ParkLondon Underground
Metropolitan Line (Amersham and Watford branches)
Hatch EndLondon Overground
to Euston
StanmoreLondon Underground
Jubilee Line
Elstree and BorehamwoodThameslink
to St Pancras and Blackfriars
High BarnetLondon Underground
Northern Line (High Barnet branch)
CockfostersLondon Underground
Piccadilly Line
Gordon HillGreat Northern
to Moorgate
Turkey StreetLondon Overground
to Liverpool Street
Enfield LockGreater Anglia
to Liverpool Street or Stratford
ChingfordLondon Overground
to Liverpool Street
ChigwellLondon Underground
Central Line (Hainault loop)
Harold WoodElizabeth Line (Crossrail)
to Liverpool Street
Upminster BridgeLondon Underground
District Line
to Fenchurch Street
Purfleet 2c2c
to Fenchurch Street
  1. Upper Warlingham is also a very short walk away, also running with services to London Victoria. However services do not operate as frequently as those from Whyteleafe.
  2. Whilst the LOOP is an orbital route, it is not a continuous circle as there is no way to cross the Thames between Purfleet and Erith.

Finding and booking accommodation

Which way for the ramblers?

Chances are, if you’re interested in walking the LOOP, you will be reasonably local and wanting (and able) to return home in the evening. Which is handy as there isn’t an accommodation guide for the LOOP. However there’s plenty of accommodation providers in the capital so if you do want to stay over, you’ll find something. The official London tourist website, Visit London, has an accommodation search facility, and you may want to stay in the same place for several nights and travel by public transport for each days walk.

Guide books and maps

Celebrating at the bar, even if I wasn’t quite at the end of the LOOP yet.

For the most part there are plenty of signposts on the London LOOP to tell you which way to go. But – and it’s a big but – the quality of the signposts can vary depending on which part of London you are in. For the most part the signs are plentiful and useful, but in a handful of places I found them to be in poor condition, and in one part of London, completely inadequate.

That means you really do need some information with you to guide you on your walk.

London Loop Recreational Path Guideby David Sharp with Colin Saunders

The most obvious thing to take with you is The London LOOP: Recreational Path Guide written by David Sharp with Colin Saunders, and published by Aurum Press. It includes extracts of Ordnance Survey Maps for the whole of the route, at the 1:25,000 (Explorer) scale, along with details of pubs and refreshment stops. The guide has been updated for 2017. Generally if you’ve got this book, you’ll be held in good stead.

Another option is to visit the Inner London Rambler’s LOOP web pages. Here you will find detailed walking instructions for the whole walk, split into 24 sections and downloadable for free. These have built upon versions originally produced for Transport for London, and have been recently updated. Each one also includes historical information and details about refreshments.

Also on the site, you’ll find a certificate you can print out when you’ve walked the whole of the LOOP.

If you would like Ordnance Survey maps for the trail, you need nine Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25,000 scale) maps, namely: 146, 147, 160, 161, 162, 172, 173, 174, 175.

The LOOP is marked on the Ordnance Survey Landranger maps, however the 1:50,000 scale mapping is, to be honest, rather inadequate for urban walking that a walk like the LOOP entails. Even the 1:25,000 scale can be pushing it at times, and we simply wouldn’t recommend you try it with the Landranger map.

And finally, and any questions

Joining the Grand Union at Hayes

Hopefully reading this will see you chomping at the bit to explore London, and give you all the information you need. So good luck on your walk! And if you do have any questions that aren’t answered above, please feel free to ask them below.

We update our planning guides on a regular basis, and welcome reports of errors, clarifications and additions. If you have any, please email us using our contact form.


Ruth Nash

7 June 2017 at 11:41 pm

The overview of the route (London LOOP, paragraph 2 on the webpage) shows Manchester & the peak district!! Fortunately we have been using the guide TFL pages.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

8 June 2017 at 10:28 am

Whoops. So it did. It should be fixed now, and happily showing London.

David Howe

8 June 2017 at 3:16 pm

We have just bought all the Explorer sheets and find that on # 160 the LOOP only appears for 1K at Hays. It does not seem good value to buy this sheet – the path is following the canal, and the guidebook by Sharp and Saunders is good.


18 September 2018 at 10:57 am

Hi the Hatch End to to Elstree sections show a total of 5.5 miles, although the official route is 10 miles.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

24 September 2018 at 10:39 pm

Hello Richard. Thanks for letting me know.

There was definitely an error in the table and I have updated it. I’m not sure quite where Transport for London were measuring between, but measuring on the map gives me about 9 miles for the section.

David Murphy

30 May 2019 at 5:21 am

Is there an app?


20 November 2019 at 2:38 pm

Hi Andrew!
When The London Loop was in its infancy there were beautifully illustrated pamphlets of each (or some) sections.
I can not find them anywhere via Googling!
Any information please?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

21 November 2019 at 10:34 am

Hi Jon – haven’t seen any for years I’m afraid. The only leaflets I’ve seen recently are more spartan ones on the TfL website.

Alisa Osborne

25 November 2019 at 1:12 am

Walking the London Loop near Heathrow following alongside the River Crane I could not find any way to cross the A30.


8 September 2020 at 10:19 am

Alisa, it involves taking a bit of a detour to do it safely.
You need to go west along the A30 to the first pedestrian crossing near Hatton Cross, then double back on the other side; it’s about 1.5km in total.
If travelling south to north:
On the south side the path along the east bank of the Crane leads directly on to the pavement on the A30. After heading west and crossing at Hatton Cross (or sooner if you want to chance crossing the busy A30) onto the north side you need to head east again, but follow the Heathrow perimeter road that runs alongside the A30 as it splits away where the Piccadilly line emerges. At the mini roundabout keep heading in the same direction, past the vehicle barriers, still alongside the Picadilly line. You soon cross the Crane and can turn left down the path on the east bank again.


18 March 2021 at 1:57 pm


Has anyone walked this route in one go, I plan to but I can’t find any advice on doing so. All the advice I come across is for sections or walking a little bit In on day. I’m wondering if there are spots to wild camp or actual camping sites on route?

Thank you

Alex White

19 March 2021 at 4:36 pm

No offense to anyone here, but I have to say that I really feel like sounding off. I’ve just given up a not very serious attempt on Section 22, because of the mud – and much of the route these days is a sea of mud. Yeah I know it’s been raining, but anywhere else in Northern Europe the walk would be maintained. There would be some kind of attempt to put a surface on it. I’m a homeless guy (currently in a hotel) but I was walking an Enfield section a couple of months back and it was so bad that if I’d had access to a spade I would have gone back and dug some ditches without even asking.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

21 March 2021 at 8:56 pm

Hello Roxanne – the only actual campsite I know of is in the Lea Valley, where there is a site not far from the trail. There may be others but that’s the only one I know. For the most part the LOOP goes through fields, woods and parkland, close to urban areas. Personally I would say the possibilities for putting a tent up are rather slim, although you may find it easier if you’re using a bivvy bag.

Andrew Collins

13 October 2021 at 9:14 pm

Hi Andrew
The TfL Web pages for the LOOP are no more. They have been replaced by Inner London Ramblers Web pages
The section guides have been updated and the downloads are very good with clear maps and easy to follow text. Far better than the TfL section guides. ( I did section 11 today and was guided to the Stockley Pines footbridge over the A408 no problem).

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

27 October 2021 at 9:40 am

Thanks for the update Andrew – I’ve now included the new information.

Duncan Whyte

1 January 2023 at 7:02 am

I walked the first half from Erith to Whyteleafe. Then Kingston to Hatch End. I had walked sections around Cockfosters, Epping Forest and Purfleet.

It’s muddy, littered and strewn with dog poo, as much of it is used by dog walkers. Typical urban human evidence.

The walk has a few stretches of views and sections where you can get into a useful stride. Like the bigger parks, woods and canals, but much of it involves getting around the urban built environment and messy links between.

As a north east Londoner I found I was spending as much time getting to each section on public transport as actual walking. So I may do the South East another time.

For the walking tourist it offers an option, but for the Londoner you can easily find the equivalent within your own area.

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