Rediscovering London in 360°


Lifelong Londoner and photographer Michael Shilling sets out to walk six Slow Ways chosen entirely by an ambitious Twitter poll

In January 2020, I embarked on a personal photography project. The goal was to explore as much of London as possible and take 360° pictures along the way. I had realised that despite living in London most of my life, I barely visited many of the boroughs and in fact knew very little about most. 

I had walked along the Gatun locks in Panama,
but had never passed by the Grand Union Canal

I had spent four glorious summers in the natural wonder that is Alaska,
but had never been to the Walthamstow Wetlands.

I failed to realise what was on my own doorstep 

To begin with, I mostly wandered around and posted my daily adventures on Instagram. Soon, fellow photographer Christopher Hope-Fitch and I entered into a friendly wager. Whilst we were initially motivated by the spoils (an evening’s drinks paid for at Croydon’s finest ale establishment, The Royal Standard), what transpired throughout the pandemic was an abundance of mental wealth for both of us.  

Christopher began his project photographing Brutalist architecture at night with his unique style. Slowly we began forming a system where Christopher would find something interesting he wanted to photograph at night, and I would suggest a route to take us there in the day.  

I used the Capital Ring, London Loop and Thames walks as routes, before I discovered Slow Ways.  

Our walks became mini middle-aged adventures exploring London. With pubs, theatres and my own business closed we amused ourselves by scaling the heights of the infamous Beckton Alp, climbing inside World War II pill boxes on closed airfields and storming across Swanscombe Marshes, desperate to catch the last train home.  

In November 2021, I started making films of my walks. This was a form of self accountability and a way to simply get better at filmmaking. If I committed to publishing one film a week, then I would have to:

1. do one big walk a week

2. figure out a way to make these films quickly and easily

My desire to create interesting and unique videos and photos needed to be balanced with portability and comfort, so I took full advantage of the technical evolution in small and portable cameras. My basic kit consists of a 360° camera, a pocket video camera, a tiny action camera, a good stills camera and a small drone. 

The equipment I’m using to records these adventures is best described in this video. 


But I’ve preambled like a recipe blogger…

When I saw the news about the swarm I had to get involved. My initial idea was to walk across London. This idea was powered by Slow Ways’ founder Dan Raven-Ellison’s off-the-cuff comment that “you can easily walk across London in a day”. Some googling revealed that Dan’s interpretation of “easy” was in fact an 18-hour, 56km jaunt across London: 

It’s important to know your own limits. In a pair of Jordans and with a chronic illness, 56km is probably beyond mine. Thus, I asked the Slow Ways community to vote with Twitter polls to determine the route I would take. 

I decided upon Coulsdon as my start point, as it was the best southerly central-London point on the Slow Ways network for me to travel to. Over the space of a week people voted on a route that took me to Sutton, Mitcham, Streatham, Brixton and Battersea before finishing at Victoria Station. The waylist included six unverified routes with the potential to snail at least one. Here’s the waylist I made.

I made a short video of my trip and created a Twitter thread for real-time updates during the day. Reviewing each section as I went along gave me a welcome breather.  

Despite walking alone, having real-time encouragement from the Slow Ways community on Twitter was a wonderful experience. Here’s a quick overview of each section with some of my signature 360° images.

Coulsdon Town to Sutton

Slow Ways route Sutcou

The route begins with a nice uphill section of the London Loop to start with lovely views. Passing through Oaks Park is a treat with the daffodils in full bloom. Heading into Carshalton got a bit hilly but the suburban walk into Sutton was very pleasant.

Sutton to Mitcham 

Slow Ways route Sutmit

Although the route avoids the main roads, it was pretty much all suburban streets until it skimmed the edge of the St Helier Open Space. I was treated to a nice view of the ever-rising Croydon skyline. The routes gives a teaser of the Wandle Trail before heading back onto a main road into Mitcham.

Mitcham to Streatham  

Slow Ways route Mitstr

This was main road all the way passing a little bit of green space in the form of Figges Marsh. There’s very little else to add other than it was mainly flat till about halfway along Mitcham Lane where there is a slight hill. When I arrived in Streatham I became very aware that the sun was slowly turning me a bright shade of pink. 

I spent the best part of 20 minutes unsuccessfully searching Tesco for suncream before investing in a pair of baseball caps… because obviously hats are only sold in pairs. 

Streatham to Brixton

Slow Ways route Strbri

This was an alternative route provided by Dan Raven-Ellison at just after midnight the night before the swarm. It turned out to be my favourite section of the day. 

The route starts off straight away by taking you off a busy road down a nice footpath. It goes residential after that with a nice section along the railway line on Leigham Vale.  

It was lovely walking down Trinity Rise to Brockwell Park, with absolutely amazing views of the City skyline. After that it was straight on to Brixton. 

Brixton to Battersea  

Slow Ways route Batbri

After leaving the hustle and bustle of Brixton, the route takes you down a lovely residential street towards Clapham. I took a few shots of Lionel Stanhope’s Brixton station mural. 

Once Clapham High Street is negotiated, it’s back onto quieter side streets. Heathbrook Park adds some welcome green space, and the tap rooms in the adjacent viaducts may prove irresistible. 

The remaining route twists and winds its way under bridges and archways through to Battersea. 

Battersea to Victoria Station

Slow Ways route Batvic

The route heads into the wonderful Battersea Park and skims around its edge along beautifully kept footpaths. You’re then treated to a stroll across Chelsea bridge before a simple but functional jaunt towards Victoria station. 

With 15 minutes to go, there were texts from my wife enquiring about my arrival time back home. With a promised takeaway in mind, I powered through the last section and hopped on the next train home.


  • Swarm: An organised weekend where we get the community doing as much walking, preferably on unconfirmed routes
  • Mental wealth: a term borrowed from mental health campaigner Lee Townsend
  • Waylist: a list of walks to undertake on Slow Ways
  • Snail: the badge of verification for a route. To get the snail you are the third person to positively review a route

Inspired to go on your own Slow Ways urban wander? Discover new routes in different cities across the UK! Sign up to walk and review Slow Ways. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook