Welcome to London, a land where the walls are rough and plentiful, and the sun is always (not) shining. Despite the poor weather (which it is obligatory for British people to talk about), London’s foggy streets prove to be the perfect breeding ground for traceurs. London boasts some of Parkour’s biggest household names – Kie Willis, Tim Shief and Storror, to mention but a few – many of them prodigies from the parkour baby-boom of 2003 and 2005, when legendary documentaries Jump London and Jump Britain were first aired on British television. Whether you’re a weathered parkour traveller, a newbie traceur, or just a passing tourist who enjoys watching people jump around with their shirts off, these top spots should be first on your London itinerary!
London Facebook Contact group: Sunday Trainings SUPA XXL.
Disclaimer: A parkour spot list is never complete! This is just a small selection of London’s finest spots. Parts 2 and 3 to come!
SPOTS PART 1/3:
St Thomas’ Hospital
New Park Estate
Iconic for tourists and traceurs alike, Southbank is by far the best spot to bump into the likes of Storror or the Queen. Even if you don’t meet any celebrities or have any friends, there are plenty of lone selfie opportunities in front of Big Ben, Parliament and the river Thames.
In the spirit of friendly, non-competitive Parkour (debate point later), here’s a link to a similar Southbank Spotlist made by Team Farang.
To inform the newcomers, Imax is not just a cinema it is also one of the most iconic parkour spots in the world. If this is news to you then better leave this spot to the big boys and girls. For those of you that do know what we are on about then prepare to have your question prematurely answered – the kong-pre is even more MASSIVE in real life… See in Google Maps.
Cross the bridge from IMAX on the left side and this national treasure will jump right out at you. If backflip pre-ing the stair gap doesn’t appeal to you, there is a more benign spot just down from the staircase. Be sure to look before you leap, you wouldn’t want to suffer the indignity of falling 15 metres into rubbish bins… See in Google Maps.
A nice low-level spot for beginners, complete with a handrail. Being an iconic landmark, you will most likely receive a load of attention from passing tourists; but no need to get self-conscious as it’s mainly the skaters who will be taking the limelight. Let’s face it, parkour on wheels is a whole new level of hardcore. See in Google Maps.
Believe it or not, the filthy slosh that transports dead cats and burnt-out motorcycles through central London on their journey to the underworld does contain some fantastic beaches. Bring your buckets, spades, and plenty of flip game. Steps offer lots of flipping potential from various heights into sand or water, depending on whether you’re unlucky with the tide. The famous free-running circular ‘slopes’ can also be found here. See in Google Maps.
This spot is one of London’s legendary hidden gems. Centered beneath the sheltered underbelly of Waterloo bridge, it extends out both directions in a line of kongs and pres that are mirrored reflections of either side. At the end of the right-hand line lies some bonus beam-strides over the Thames. You could almost make it your parkour paradise – if it wasn’t for the smell, intensified to even greater levels of nausea in the summer heat (this spot doesn’t get its name for nothing). Human faeces is just another obstacle though, isn’t it? See in Google Maps.
Only suitable for the pros, the aim of this spot is to get across the two walls without falling down the drop or getting run over by a London bus. Just head right to the end of Waterloo Bridge to collect your death wish. See in Google Maps.
ST THOMAS’ HOSPITAL & ROOF
Get some sightseeing done whilst you jump, at this pretty set of walls with a view right into Teresa May’s parliament en-suite. A little urban climbing further down the promenade could also lead you to an exploration of the old hospital roof and bell tower – though security is super tight and does not lean favourably on trespassers so watch out. See in Google Maps.
The main parkour spot in Oval is top class. Apparently the urban planners thought so too and hence the same spot design has been replicated multiple times across the Oval estate. The beautiful flower-less flowerbeds tendered by numerous traceurs are great for practicing your kong-pres. There are also lots of little training spots between the estate and the station to brighten up the 15-minute walk. See in Google Maps.
Note: Wow look at that amazing scaffolding!!! Better hop to it quick guys before it disappears.
Just across the river from Oval lies Pimlico, our final central London spot before we leave zone 1.
Around the corner from Pimlico station hides a great spot full of that smashing, post-box-red brick you see on all the London documentaries but never on the postcards. For some reason someone has built a window space in one of the stairways but then forgot to put any glass in it, making it very fun to jump to and climb through. See in Google Maps.
A semi-decent undercover spot is always good to have nearby with the constant rainclouds that loom ominously on London’s horizon. Just 4 minutes walk from Window-cat. See in Google Maps.
Chainstore, run by Parkour Generations, is London’s internationally renowned Parkour gym. Unsurprisingly they have a sick parkour set-up (see picture). Though opportunity for learning flips is limited, sorry (not sorry) free-runners.
Drop-in sessions are now £15 but you do have all day to wear yourself out, which is not the case in many international parkour gyms. It is also possible to become a member and attend classes.
Drop-in hours are officially weekdays: 10.30am to 6.30pm and Saturdays: 12 pm to 6 pm, but give them a ring as they are often pretty chill about letting you train whenever. Visit the Parkour Generations website for more information.
Access: Chainstore is situated far-out in London’s abandoned docklands, a borough occupied mostly by hipsters and aspiring artists. It will take you about an hour to get there from central London on the DLR (overground metro service)- the journey there and back will cost you £5-6. Exit at East India Station, after that it’s a 10-minute walk. Call in the shop just outside the station if you want snacks because the docklands truly are desolate – there’s even a taxi with a tree growing out of the roof (not kidding). See in Google Maps.
For some reason, Archway’s local council received a very large wall-budget and thus vast amount of walls have been built seemingly serving no purpose other than to jump on. Consequently, many London traceurs have made this area London’s new central hub for casual training sessions.
Yet another wacky idea from the local council to brighten up the lives of Archway residents, this former normie-play-area was ripped up and replaced with a pseudo-tropical beach. The new, springy floor is lovely and bouncy too (and not bad at all in the wet). New Park is a meeting place for local traceurs and after-school kids (often these meetings overlap.) See in Google Maps.
Bonus feature: Maccy D’s is just around the corner.
NEW PARK ESTATE
Turn left out the back of New Park to enter Mario world. Just like the game, blocks of wall are randomly scattered at a perfect height for jumping on amidst large, green, vertical pipes – you can almost feel the piranha plants snapping at your jumping ankles. Some residents (the kind who rip out the plug whilst you play video games) particularly object to Parkour on this estate and may force you to move on. See in Google Maps.
Due to the request of local residents, detail regarding this particular spot has been removed.
A massively underrated spot 10 minutes walk from Archway station in the other direction from New Park estate. The block is usually the official meeting point but there are a large number of other great spots to explore in the close vicinity. Not good in wet weather as the walls stay damp and mossy, unless you’re one of those wet-weather-training heroes. Good for all levels of traceur and for chaining cat 180s. See in Google Maps.
Round the corner from block spot, the community centre offers some nice pres and plyo challenges if you’re feeling springy. See in Google Maps.
That’s all for now folks, stay tuned for London spots parts 2 and 3! And if you have any comments or suggestions please let us know!
London backdrop (image): Circling Europe, Circling Weekend in London. 2018. https://circlingeurope.com/product/circling-weekend-in-london/
Flip on the Beach (image): username: rylokr1977, Flickr HiveMind. https://hiveminer.com/Tags/flip%2Cparkour/Recent
Chainstore photo (image): Ben Curwen of Parkour Generations, 2014.
Hospital Roof (image): Wylde K. , Hills D. , Hills A. , Aurora Freerunning, London Episode 9 Parkour and Freerunning, YouTube. 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Wb75SA3_E
©World of Parkour 2018