Epic Walk Aims to Make London a National Park City

Daniel Raven-Ellison visited every borough in a 560km walk

A map of London's parks

A man from Ealing has completed a 560km walk through every borough in London as part of his attempt to have the capital designated as the world’s first ever National Park City.

Daniel Raven-Ellison walked for 160 hours, crossing the Thames 11 times and made 43 tube and rail journeys to visit London’s 242 parks and 23 rivers.

The National Geographic Explorer, who has walked across some of the world’s largest cities, hiked a giant spiral around London during the course of nearly five weeks - walking nearly 800,000 steps. He started his journey in Enfield on Friday 23 June and crossed the final finish line in Temple on Wednesday 26 July.

From the Havering Country Park in Redbridge with its old Giant Redwoods to the tranquillity of Hackney's Eastern Curve garden on an old railway line, hundreds of parks, leafy streets and commons saw him make his way through them almost every day - and Daniel was often accompanied by local councillors, mayors, activists and members of the public. In all over 100 people joined him on his walk.

The Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy Shirley Rodrigues, who joined Daniel on his penultimate day of walking, said: “Through his impressive 500km walk and his public campaigning, Daniel has done a fantastic job of raising awareness of the importance of green spaces and wildlife in the capital. London's much-loved parks and green spaces boost our quality of life, which is why we want to make them even better and more accessible for Londoners.

“The Mayor is firmly committed to making London a National Park City and will launch his wider plans this summer. To meet the target of making 50 per cent of the city green, we'll need action from people across London, like Daniel, and I look forward to joining him on his final walks.”

London can become a National Park City once the majority of elected ward teams have declared their support for the move. So far, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has given his backing as have 238 ward teams across 30 boroughs. The support of just 86 more ward teams is needed.

London is arguably one of the greenest and species-rich cities in the word, with around 14,000 types of wildlife inhabiting around London from foxes, to parakeets to peregrine falcons. It’s also home to four World Heritage Sites, 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, three million gardens and 8.3 million trees. According to Greenspace Information for Greater London 49.5 per cent of London is physically green and blue, with the city’s parks, gardens, green roofs, rivers and lakes improving life for millions of Londoners across the capital.

The campaign to make London a National Park City wants to make life healthier and more enjoyable for Londoners, ensuring all Londoners have free and easy access to high-quality green and blue space. It’s aims include to make the majority of the capital physically green, boosting biodiversity, improving the quality of London’s air and connecting 100% of children to nature.

On the final day of his walk, Daniel said: “I have enjoyed an extraordinary walk around London and have been greeted by welcoming, inspiring and enthusiastic Londoners in every borough I've visited. I've learned that some of the most exciting and brilliant places in the capital are often the smallest, but where the community has come together to make the very best of them - even if they are only temporary. The work done to bring people together to enjoy art, play, grow food and medicines and create habitats in places like Phytology at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve, the Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston, the Hub and Friends of Lordship Rec in Haringey and Meanwhile Gardens in Westbourne Park are just three world-class projects that all Londoners should be proud of. The reality is that while places like these build community, improve our mental health, the city's resilience and make the city far more enjoyable to live in, there are not nearly enough of them.

“Making London a National Park City is about seeing London not just as a city, but ad a landscape that we all help to shape. if every Londoner transformed one square metre of concrete into a planted area or a pond, the majority of the capital would be physically green and blue. This would boost London's wildlife, reduce flood risk and make the city even more beautiful.”


July 31, 2017

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Daniel Raven-Ellison. Picture: Darren Moore

Why London Should be National Park

You can follow the campaign by following Daniel on Twitter @DanRavenEllison #BigWalkAroundLondon.

Londoners and London councillors can declare their support on the campaign's website.