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Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground [Paperback]

Mark Mason
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013

The only way to truly discover a city, they say, is on foot. Taking this to extremes, Mark Mason sets out to walk the entire length of the London Underground - overground - passing every station on the way.

In a story packed with historical trivia, personal musings and eavesdropped conversations, Mark learns how to get the best gossip in the City, where to find a pint at 7am, and why the Bank of England won't let you join the M11 northbound at Junction 5. He has an East End cup of tea with the Krays' official biographer, discovers what cabbies mean by 'on the cotton', and meets the Archers star who was the voice of 'Mind the Gap'.

Over the course of several hundred miles, Mark contemplates London's contradictions as well as its charms. He gains insights into our fascination with maps and sees how walking changes our view of the world. Above all, in this love letter to a complicated friend, he celebrates the sights, sounds and soul of the greatest city on earth.

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Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground + Move Along, Please + The Importance of Being Trivial: In Search of the Perfect Fact
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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099557932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099557937
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Endlessly fascinating" (Spectator)

"An extraordinary odyssey" (Robert Elms BBC London)

"This engaging book puts its best foot forward" (Independent)

"Crammed with delightful facts ... a constantly fascinating journey" (Shortlist)

"Rediscovers the Underground" (The Times)

Book Description

An obsessive walks the entire London Underground system overground

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating facts related with humour 14 July 2011
By Shazjera TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The synopsis is exactly what you get on this journey walking the streets that run alongside the London Underground - but above ground.

There is so much interesting information shared - I found it fascinating. It's not just historical information (which I love) but insights into the businesses, shops, architecture and residents that populate those streets that the author walks. He can tell how affluent an area is and how much a part of the hub of London a place is. In a way, this book reminds me of the work of Charles Booth - Charles Booth completed a survey into life and labour in London dating from 1886 to 1903.

Another fascinating thing I found was the psychology of walking and map-reading that the author explores. As his journey progresses, he is affected on a deeper level and he finds insights into why he enjoys walking and why he needs this challenge. There is a lot of philosophy on what the journey actually means to him.

Mark Mason writes with humour - it is not a long drawn-out read. I found myself saying to my husband, `do you know why .....................?' and when he said no, telling him he would have to wait to read the book to find out!

It's not always Mark Mason walking on his own. Geoff Nicholson who is the author of Bleeding London and The Lost Art of Walking joins him at one point. They walk together from Camden Town to Highgate. His mate Richard joins him for the part of Harrow-to-Uxbridge and he also completes a pub-crawl on the Circle Line with another mate.

I was intrigued by the Cake Circle created by the ex-pop musician, Bill Drummond. I love the reason why he started this - again, there is a philosophy behind this.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking glory - brilliant 12 July 2011
I was contacted by Random House with the offer to review this book. As I love going to London, i thought this book sounded really interesting so I accepted. I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Mark Mason decides the best way to conquer London would to be to walk the entire Tube system overground. Dividing the lines up he walks from station to station. Picking up conversations, observations and facts about his surroundings.
Each Line is a new chapter and has a map of that line at the start of the chapter, so you can follow his progress throughout the walk. I settled in to read this book and found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Mark has a witty sense of humour and makes some great observations on his walk, filled with sarcastic comments, thought provoking discussions and interesting facts. This book had me laughing along with it and my feet itching to go back to London. Some parts in London I have visited so I could picture exactly where he was, other parts were new to me, but I could picture where he was and what the area was like from his observations.
I took this book to work with me to read in my lunch break and I already have three people waiting to read it. I would sit there giggling or going 'ooh' at certain facts so my colleagues would ask 'what's that about then' and just from sharing snippets and talking about the book, they are as fascinated as I was.
The writing style flows well and takes you into the heart of the book. I felt like I really was walking along with him (without the sore feet and aching legs on my part!)
If you love London or just want to know more about this great City I really would recommend this book. It will make you see London in a whole new light and give you the urge to explore.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Walk On By 27 Mar 2014
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great premise – walk every London Underground line in its entirety, on the surface, and report all the weird and wonderful sights you see and people you meet. Throw in a bit of map trivia and Tube trivia and what could go wrong?

Well, for a start, you could find that most of what you saw was not very interesting. Just endless housing estates and main roads threading through industrial estates – interspersed by visits to the same central London locations you have visited on your previous three lines. You might fail to meet interesting people and instead have to pad out an entire line’s narrative with the planning guy from the City of London. Or you might find the top of the NatWest Tower a bit disappointing.

You see, these types of travelogue books depend so much on the geniality of the company. I would trek every mile of the Andes with Michael Palin because he is an all round entertaining guy who observes without judging. Or I might walk along the River with Iain Sinclair whose depth of knowledge of local historic arcana is unparalleled. Or I could walk along the Irish Border with Colm Toibin, whose flawless use of language is used to show, not tell.

But Mark Mason is no Palin, Sinclair or Toibin. He is prissy and judgemental; his trivia is superficial and probably came out of Schott’s Miscellany; and his writing is clunky. He tries so hard to be wry but it falls flat. He finds irony where there is no irony; he finds meaning where there is no meaning. And most of all, it is so repetitive. Each walk starts out with earnest but dull observation of the tiniest details of his surroundings. No shop is too small to mention; no station too bland to describe.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good for any visit to London
Published 8 days ago by M Bowery
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased with purchase
Arrived very promptly and as described. Pleased with purchase
Published 1 month ago by Mrs A D Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely different take on what makes London the greatest city in...
A fascinating and very funny insight into the modern history of London, what makes the character of the various parts and how they link together. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ian Charman
4.0 out of 5 stars It's "Ho-bun," not "Hol-born."
"There's no one place where you can stand and say, 'This is it ‒ I've found London.' Never stops you looking, though. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Joseph Haschka
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable
This book is a travelogue about walking the length of all eleven London Underground lines. In other words, London – and a fair bit of its outskirts – by foot. Read more
Published 4 months ago by N. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars So interesting
As a daily tube traveller this is very interesting and I can bore all my colleagues (and my wife) with tube trivia
Published 4 months ago by Stephen Tross
5.0 out of 5 stars Really interesting!
This book appealed to me as I have often thought that as a tourist to London, if you use the tube, you lose the sense of how one place connects to another above ground. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Elainedav
5.0 out of 5 stars Me? A Londoner? Gosh! I didn't realise!
Well I did really, but this mans unusual journey,with its quirky perspectives on London and the indispensable Tube system makes you realise the magic that is London, and the often... Read more
Published 5 months ago by S M DIX
2.0 out of 5 stars walk the line
not what I had anticipated. It was difficult to find locations and did not give me the travalogue experience that I sought. Disappointing.
Published 7 months ago by J. O. Mclean
5.0 out of 5 stars getting beneath things
A great book where information sneaks up on you, passes by and yet a few moments later you realise what you have read. Read more
Published 8 months ago by safety99
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