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When famous bloggers make claims what does one see these as? Challenges that’s what! Last year there were three Diamond Geezer challenges – alas this year it seems there were going to be none but at this very late stage in 2018 a challenge duly arose and I took it up 🙂

This revolves around claims Paddington to Lancaster Gate is no proper sort of out of station interchange with various people making claims as to how far it was to walk or long it took. I know the area very well and to me its just round the corner from one to the other!

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Its not even 643 metres and whats more its walkable in less than the time given!

I cited a time of four minutes for that transit in relation to a comment on Diamond Geezer’s blog that it was eight (or six minutes in real world terms) and they cited a distance of 643 metres which had me suspicious. Actually what I think people are doing is they are going the long way round not the short way round. Let me explain this quirk later… Anyway Diamond Geezer added in a comment that it was six minutes minimum walk. “On the DG scale, six minutes.” This got me thinking…

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My response – and Diamond Geezer’s assertion the walk took six minutes no less….

I found TfL actually specified a minimum of five minutes for the walk. The Evening Standard too says five minutes. I had said four! Was I mad – or was I right? I knew it was an easy walk and quickly done too. So I set out to prove it could be done in four minutes. The problem was for some weeks I have had a very bad foot. It has been quite painful to walk considerable distances so once again I have been out and about very little….

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TfL information at Lancaster Gate tube gives directions, walking times and the correct shorter route.

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Is it really possible to walk from the tube station at Praed Street to Lancaster Gate in just four minutes?

One could easily walk the distance in five or six minutes and take in a couple of sights en route. There’s lots of history in Sussex Gardens, one just needs to know where to look! I said it was doable in four. That’s just doing it straight out, no diversions or sussing local history of any sort.

And therein the challenge arose on the 10th December 2018 thanks to DG. Although I had wanted to do it that very day I couldn’t because of my foot so pass it over for it a couple more days until the challenge could be done.

The darn foot was still somewhat painful the night I did the challenge but at least I could walk fast and I put on several extra socks to soften the impact upon my foot. With 100% health it could have been a pip just under four minutes.

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Paddington station – countdown at 00.00

It took me just 4.12 minutes from Paddington (Praed Street tube entrance) to Lancaster Gate tube station’s entrance. I did it again in the reverse direction this time recording my progress and again was just over four minutes (4.12 minutes.) You will probably notice I did it in as straight a line as possible but don’t bash me for that many people do the same, few use the crossings in Sussex Gardens or Westbourne St but instead cross these roads at a tangent because it is quicker, easier and with a bit of luck one is ahead of the various traffic signals thereby does not have to wait several minutes as these lights are on considerably long phases.

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Lancaster Gate 4.12 minutes later!

Diamond Geezer, thank you for challenging me. And I proved Paddington to Lancaster Gate was doable in four minutes!

Before any one bashes me, yes I also photographed such instances to prove others take these short cuts too. I regularly see people taking tangents through the traffic crossings and the large roundabout in Sussex Gardens because its even more direct!

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Its often possible to just walk across Sussex Gardens at an angle as this guy with shopping bags is doing…

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People coming straight from Lancaster Terrace disregarding the lights and the crossing layouts or even as one guy can be seen doing, going via the roundabout just to shave off a few more seconds of walking!

YouTube video showing the walk can be done in just over four minutes.

What’s this about a short and a longer route? Well if one consults the map one will most likely work out a route that appears to be the shortest but is actually the longest. Its a quirk that often exists around this part of the world because of the alignment of the roads. Say one goes by bus from Marble Arch to Paddington. The route the bus takes is the most direct but its also the longer way round! One goes some distance up Edgware Road and then turns to go towards Paddington. But Edgware Road is at an angle and so is Sussex Gardens/Praed Street, which brings Paddington almost down to where Lancaster Gate is!

Its this quirk which gets a lot of people confused as to where Paddington is. Surely its much further north because of where the buses go? Exactly! Its an illusion. In fact Paddington is almost right next to Hyde Park.

Brunel’s famous main line station is often bashed for seemingly being in a location that’s way out but ironically Paddington main line station is one of the most central of all London’s main line terminii! Its this one plus Marylebone and Euston that comes the closest to the West End and the capital’s main shopping streets and it is of interest to note these three stations are all just 500m from Oxford Street as the crow flies.

People might think the Bakerloo Line goes northwards into London’s suburbs, but before it does that it comes back down to Paddington where it is almost at a level with Oxford Circus station!

Besides, there’s not just this quirk with the Marble Arch/Paddington/Lancaster Gate triangle but yet another anomaly in the roads layout at Lancaster Gate.

This means that coming from Paddington one is more likely to work out that the easternmost side of this triangle (Westbourne St) appears to be the shortest route. It is not. If one takes the other side of the triangle via Lancaster Terrace its much shorter even though it looks further when one consults a map!

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In the above picture taken from Sussex Gardens most would take the left hand route via Westbourne St becos it looks shorter!

TfL’s Lancaster Gate’s staff clearly acknowledge this quirk and their detail on the walk to Paddington correctly points people in the right direction – away from Paddington itself. The other direction might without a doubt be the common sense route but its invariably going to be further 🙂

The longer route is well over 100 metres extra walking distance!

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