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Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground Hardcover – 14 Jul 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books; 1st edition (14 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847946534
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847946539
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Crammed with delightful facts, it's a constantly fascinating journey" (Shortlist)

"Mason, a lifelong Tube enthusiast, rediscovers the Underground by walking its routes overground" (The Times)

"Endlessly fascinating" (Spectator)

"This engaging foot puts its best foot forward with fascinating detail about both the Underground and its part in London's history" (Independent)

"Mark Mason's Walk the Lines follows his mission to walk overground the routes taken by the London Underground. In doing so he uncovers some surprising insights into the capital and its inhabitants" (Choice)

"I was charmed by this book's profusion of insightful anecdotes and fascinating trivia" (Walk)

"Offers some extraordinary historical trivia and personal musings" (Completely London)

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

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Shazjera TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Brydon on 31 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Over the last year or so I have taken to walking around London, completing staged routes such as the Capital Ring and London Loop, and have marvelled at the wealth of interesting sight and the variety of neighbourhoods. I am, however, a bit of a lightweight walker compared to Mark Mason who seems to think nothing of covering thirty five miles in a day. Nowadays I get tired just driving that far!

Mason lived in different parts of London during his twenties and thirties and, like so many of us, had always been enchanted by Harry Beck's famous (and constantly evolving) map of the Underground system. As a keen walker he gradually formulates the idea of walking the whole length of each of the lines, almost as an act of homage to the city. He is familiar with several of the areas that he walks through, though by dint of his research (aided by his 'geeky' friend Richard who might fairly be described as more than a little obsessive about the Underground) he is deeply informative about all of the localities he visits.

Taking the eleven London Underground lines in turn (he eschews the London Overground line as a mere pretender to the status) he follows their route at ground level, taking the opportunity to enlighten the reader with snippets of local history and miscellaneous arcana about the lines themselves. He is an entertaining narrator, and I found myself enchanted by his descriptions of his different journeys. He starts with the Victoria Line, embarking from Brixton and striding out northwards towards the river and beyond, reaching Walthamstow in the early evening, having covered nearly twenty miles.

He gives a humorous running commentary as he goes along, peppered with wry observations and social comment, though never to an intrusive degree.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. Young on 15 April 2014
Format: Paperback
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. It’s undoubtedly an eccentric challenge, but it presents us with a very insightful view of modern London in all its forms – suburbs, industrial estates, open fields, the inner city and the point at which a poor area ends and an affluent one begins.

It’s not just about the places, mind you. On the way, Mason meets an interesting range of people, including the City of London planning officer, a novelist, a trainee cabbie and an actor from The Archers who did the ‘mind the gap’ announcements for part of the Piccadilly Line. He gets to climb up the NatWest Tower and Barnet Church. And he even manages to walk to Heathrow Airport.

As one would expect, there are some great pieces of Tube trivia here – for example, when the Metropolitan Railway opened in 1863, the Prime Minister (Lord Palmerston, who was 78 at the time) refused to attend on the grounds that at his age, he preferred to spend as much of his time above ground as possible. There is also an explanation for the convention of standing on the right on escalators. On a wider note, there’s a useful definition of what constitutes a modern-day high street from a man who, over the course of this book, has walked along rather a lot of them: “A high street ain’t a high street unless it can sell you a rawlplug.” (By this definition, I am pleased to report that High Road in East Finchley meets his requirement.) There is also plenty of food for thought for people who like maps, and in this sense Mason goes beyond the ‘I went to Stanfords to buy my maps’ travel-writer cliché.
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