We all love a walking challenge.

We love strapping on our thermals and our walking boots and going on a long hike, whether that be with friends or family, or even just our beloved pets. 

In the UK, we’re blessed with so many great casual and challenging walking routes. The Three Peaks Challenge and Ten Tors Challenge are just a couple that stick out. 

But 2022 has seen the birth of a new walking challenge that trended across the popular social media channel, TikTok. If you’re not aware of it, it was the #victorialinechallenge.

It all started with the #victorialinechallenge walking challenge

Simply put, this trend was seeing multiple creators document their journey of trying to walk the entire Victoria line in London

Since starting earlier in the year, it has driven more than half a million video views. But it is Gabrielle Abordo, 22, who goes by the username Gabrielle Xsara on TikTok, that has amassed nearly half of that entire viewership.

The popularity of her content has led to her also walking the Waterloo and City line (1.5 miles), from Bank to Lewisham (6.4 miles), as well as the entire DLR line (24 miles).

We loved her content and videos so much that we had to reach out to her, to see how FootActive could help her in future walking challenges.

We’re excited to say that we are going to be collaborating with Gabrielle as she attempts to walk all of the London Underground lines - including the mammoth Central line, which is 46 miles long.

Yes, you read that right!

Gabrielle & Mum

The numbers behind the UK's newest walking challenge

It’s an incredible challenge Gabrielle is taking on and as a result, we have done a little bit of digging to see just how gruelling it is going to be.

Turns out… what started off as a TikTok trend has now become one of the UK’s most difficult walking challenges.

Our research showed that the length of all the tube lines combined amounts to 316.5 miles (497.3km) crossing 428 stations, which would span the width of the UK at its widest point

Obviously completing the challenge would ensure that you’re getting your steps in, too.

For the average male, it would take 699,781 steps, while for women it would take 737,128* to complete all of the London lines.

The totals, alone, amount to over 20% of the step count a person would make a year if they were to stick to the recommended 10,000 steps a day health guidance.

Name of line Length of line (miles) Length in kilometres
Bakerloo 14.4 23.2
Central 46 74
Circle 17 27.2
District 40 64
Hammersmith & City 15.8 25.5
Jubilee 22.5 36.2
Metropolitan 42 66.7
Northern 36 58
Piccadilly 44.3 71
Victoria 13 21
Waterloo & City 1.5 2.5
DLR 24 28

How does this compare to the other UK walking challenges?

Although the London Underground walking challenge has risen in popularity over the course of 2022, it has to be considered one of the most gruelling walking challenges in the UK full stop.

Here’s how it stacks up against some of the most popular:

Name of challenge Length in miles Length in km
E2W 952 1523
Scottish National Trail 536 864
TikTok Walking challenge 316.5 497.3
Pennine Way 268 429
Coast to Coast Trail 192 309
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 186 299
The Hebridean Way 156 252
John Muir Trail 134 215
Cotswold Way 102 164
South Downs Way 100 160
Jurassic Coastal Path 95 153
The Teesdale Way 92 147
Hadrian's Wall 84 135
Bob Graham Round 66 106
Gower Coast Walk 43 69
Sandstone Trail 34 55
Three Peaks 26 42
Welsh Three Peaks 17 27

It is worth pointing out that the London TikTok challenge does fall short of the world’s longest walking challenge - the 14,000 mile epic hike from Cape Town (South Africa) to Magadan (Russia).

What’s next for Gabrielle?

While completing all of the lines is on Gabrielle’s agenda right now, she is also looking at what other challenges she can complete next, with walking all the London bus routes a possibility.

Speaking about the response online she has since completing the #victorialinechallenge, Gabrielle said: “I never expected it to do as well as it has done and is still doing! So many people have commented wanting to see more walking challenges, whether it's more train lines or bus routes. It’s been hilarious seeing the response. A lot of people were saying we were crazy for wanting to do it.”

She added: “I really want to walk a bus route next, that’s been on my agenda for a while. Even with different walking paths and areas, I just love a good walk! My friend and I are planning to do another challenge that we’ve seen next, but it was more specifically focused on steps so that should be interesting.” 

London Underground sign

How to protect your feet during long walking challenges

Just like any walking challenge, they undoubtedly take their toll on an individual’s feet. We recently covered how to prepare for walking marathons in a recent blog, but this is what FootActive’s Director, Will Munro, had to say:

“There is a misconception that walking is easy, steady, and an activity that is not strenuous for the body. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Walking for long periods of time or over long distances takes its toll on our bodies, especially our feet and ankles which can swell and become sore. Uncared for, it leaves walkers open to developing Achilles tendonitis and tenosynovitis or rupturing an Achilles tendon.

“One of the most important tips to consider whilst training to walk a marathon is to build up your mileage steadily. 

“As you’re competing at a slower pace, you may be tempted to cut training times short and bump up your mileage up too quickly. The strategy behind any great walking training plan is to build endurance cautiously and increase your pace in a relaxed manner. 

“There are other things that will help. Stretching is an obvious one, but one area that people do neglect is clothing and footwear. Having the correct footwear and clothing will make all the difference when you are training for big challenges like these.

“Make sure to pick clothes that fit you comfortably, as you’ll want to avoid any possible chafing. Bear in mind that running shoes won’t bode as well as walking shoes. 

“If you’re planning on walking the entire marathon, opt for shoes that have less cushioning and greater flexibility than running ones. Comfort and support of the foot arch are key and arch support insoles are a great go-to in order to negate the risk of sustaining injuries.”

Recommended FootActive products

  • FootActive Sports - A high-impact advanced orthotic arch-support insole for all types of different sports, this insole offers maximum comfort and shock absorption. The perfect accessory for injury prevention.
  • FootActive Comfort - our NHS-approved premium arch support insoles are created to help reduce plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis as well as heel, knee, and back pain. A medium-density insole fit for everyday use, it’s also perfect for anyone with flat feet.
  • FootActive UltraLite - the necessary arch-support insole for any outdoor activity. A runner’s dream.
  • FootActive Casual - a 3/4 length orthotic, the Casual is an easy and cost-effective solution to heel pain, knee, back pain or tired, aching feet and legs. The 3/4 length allows it to hit shoes with a narrower toe.

Research Methodology

The length of the London Underground lines was sourced and confirmed across multiple sources, initially in miles before translating to kilometres. 

Once established, we were able to work out the average steps it would take for the average UK female and UK male. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average heights of both are as follows:

  • Male - 5ft 9in
  • Female - 5ft 3in

By using this calculator, FootActive was able to work out that the average male would make 2,211 steps per mile and females 2,329 steps per mile. Our final totals were made by timing that figure against the miles to walk all the London Underground lines. Using males as an example, this was 2,329 x 316.5 = 699,781.5.

The lengths of the other most challenging UK walks were sourced from here.

Panoramic London

Image (3 + 4) credit: Shutterstock