Stage 01: London to Oxford
It’s A Long Way To Tipperay
If you’ve ever wondered how far it is to Tipperary, I may have the book series for you. Created during lockdown, and using the 1912 hit tune It’s a Long Way To Tipperary as inspiration, this is an eight-part walking tour cobbled together from home using Google Maps and Wikipedia. Kicking off in London (home to both myself and the song’s fabled homesick Irishman), our tour heads west across England, Wales and the Irish Sea before plodding inland to our final destination, Tipperary in Ireland.
Part walking tour, part Wikipedia rabbit hole
All along the way we’ll stop off to learn about a whole host of unsung local histories — from the surreal and sombre to the sentimental, sexy and spooky. The first stage, mapped out over 164 pages, travels from London to the university town of Oxford. Highlights en route include:
- Sex parties at The Hellfire Club
- Cilla Black’s haunted mansion
- The shark of Headington
- Spike Milligan’s beloved street lamps
- Peter the Wild Boy of Hamburg
- The unmarked grave of the father of body building
- The SCANDALOUS Profumo Affair
If this little journey sounds like your cup of tea it’d be great to have you along for the trip.
It’s A Long Way To Tipperary
London to Oxford
Reading time 37 min
Distance 63.9 miles
Walking time 21 hr 17 min
108 mm X 175 mm
Stage 01 spreads
Fancy getting involved?
Researching and writing the stories was a lot of fun. So far I’ve done stage 1 (London to Oxford) but there’s seven more to do. If you’d like to get involved in researching a stop-off or an entire stage, please get in touch and I’ll share the routes and some instructions. I’m interested in local folklore and speculative fiction too so any leads appreciated.
The overall stages are:
1. London to Oxford DONE
2. Oxford to Gloucester
3. Gloucester to Brecon
4. Brecon to Carmarten
5. Carmarten to Pembroke
6. Pembroke to Rosslare
7. Rosslare to Carrig On-Suir
8. Carrig On-Suir to Tipperary
The overall walking route, London to Tipperary
Irish tenor John McCormack’s celebrated rendition
- It’s A Long Way To Tipperary was MASSIVE when it came out and became an anthem for the British and Irish soliders fighting in World War 1. It was so popular that it was also taken up and translated by the German troops fighting from the opposite trenches. That’s mental. Here’s a clip of German soliders singing it in the classic war film Das Boot.
- The actual town of Tipperary got fed up with being associated with war so set up The Tipperary International Peace Prize in 1983. Previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai and John Kerry. I love this kind of thinking.
- While tracing the route and reading articles on Wikipedia it was interesting to note how much of the history is about men. There’s not a whole lot of meaningful stuff about women. This is one reason I’m keen to invite others to get involved in researching other stop-offs and stages. Maybe our stop-offs can be speculative fiction too?
- This project is dedicated to Charles Salter, aka The Geogria Rambler.