Site-Seeing: Walk It

Written by Clive Webster

October 3, 2010 // 8:16 a.m.

Tags: #free #site-seeing #walk-it

London was held to ransom by a Tube strike the other day, which meant I was in a pickle as to how to get home. Thankfully, I remembered a site I’d heard about a while ago called Walk It, which plots you a route from one location to another, specifically for walking. I only live five miles away, so I could just walk home. As an aside, it was ironic that on my way into work on the Tube that morning The London Underground song (which is definitely NSFW) came on my iPhone.
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Assuming you haven’t just been fired for watching that video at ear-shattering volumes, here’s why Walk It is such a useful site. It’s map (at least the one of London) is more sophisticated than Google’s, as it has all the little-known alleyways, and knows that you walk through parks, rather than around them. Google would have me walk through the scummy streets of Camden to get home, and I’d rather avoid being offered drugs by some bedraggled undercover Police officer every five paces. Walk It also trumps Google Maps by offering a choice of three routes, from the quickest to the least pollution-infested.

Site-Seeing: Walk It
Click to enlarge

I chose the latter, and was guided near-faultlessly from the office to my flat in North London. The site told me that the 5.1 mile walk would take a fast walker 1hr 20mins to do, and despite a few hiccups due to poor signage (okay, so Google Maps on my iPhone did come in handy) I got home in a little under that time. The site tells me that by walking home at this pace I burnt 548 calories and that I saved 0.5kg of carbons by avoiding using the Tube. Both of these facts baffle me.

For instance, an adult male is recommended to consume 2,500 calories a day. If an hour and half of fast walking burns only 548 calories though, I hardly see why I need 2,000 calories to sit in front of a computer screen or the telly. If I do, then exercise seems awfully over-rated.

I also fail to see how I saved any carbons at all, let alone half a kilogram of them. The Tube wasn’t working for a start, but even if it was it hardly conforms to my travel needs. It tends to run regardless of whether I want to travel on it or not, in fact.

Site-Seeing: Walk It
This is a school?

My ignorance aside, Walk It was very helpful, and I saw all kinds of unusual sights around London, from ultra-modern schools to a bespoke cycle-and-walkway that looks like it’s never been used. Unfortunately, there’s not an App for Walk It (which would be brilliant, especially if it spoke directions over your music), and the site doesn’t work particularly well on an iPhone. I’d be interested to know if it works better on another web-happy phone though.

Whether you have to print the directions (like I did, looking like the most lost tourist ever as I strode through back streets and suburbs) or have them on your phone, give Walk It a try. It’s a cheap way to save money and get some exercise. Please be sensible though – no walking through dodgy districts late at night and so on.
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