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One does not simply walk into Heathrow!
November 4, 2010 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible for someone on foot to walk into Heathrow Airport? I was sure it was, a friend insists it isn't and according to this, the answers are a mixed bag (and four years out of date). Has anyone done this recently or work there and can confirm one way or the other?
posted by Biru to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Possible? Yes.

Will Self wrote a piece called Walking to New York, about walking out to Heathrow and then walking in from JFK.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:40 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This and this would suggest not.
posted by Decani at 1:41 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I should add, at least not legally.
posted by Decani at 1:42 PM on November 4, 2010


I don;t know the Heathrow area well enough to verify possibility/legality, but you can google map it. I tried a friend's London address to Heathrow & chose walking directions (in beta). Apparently it takes 5 .5 hours to walk from Islington to the airport!
posted by pointystick at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2010


Well, bear in mind that Will Self did this over three years ago; I cannot recall if he had to get any special dispensation to do it (I haven't read the piece since then). However it seems it is not impossible to do it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2010


Perhaps I don't understand the question, but I don't see why you can't walk to the terminal at Heathrow. Last time I was there I saw nothing at all that would preclude that (twice this year, latest in March).

It'd certainly not be too much fun - it's much more set up for buses and cars, but there is no pedestrian exclusion zone or otherwise legal obstacle that I saw.
posted by Brockles at 3:15 PM on November 4, 2010


I was there six months ago or so, and while trying to find a place to smoke a cigarette I did see people who work there walking a short distance down a bus road with no sidewalk, then hopping over a three foot or so cement barricade. Beyond that barricade appeared to be non-airport-world. The amount of airport employees going through there gave me the impression that there was not another foot entrance, at least not anywhere near where I was.
posted by gally99 at 3:59 PM on November 4, 2010


I live very close to Heathrow so have been there many times, either travelling myself or picking up/dropping people off.

It's physically possible but you'd be walking in areas unintended for pedestrians, which is likely to lead to probing questions from bored and jittery security staff.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 6:17 PM on November 4, 2010


Yeah, I am not sure I am fully understanding the question, but I have a relevant answer.

When I was in London two-and-a-half years ago, my girlfriend and I were put up in the Holiday Inn Hotel London-Heathrow by my work. I was (and still am) completely in love with how you can pretty much walk ANYWHERE in England (at least the parts I saw), and how it was so different than most of the US that I had lived in, etc., and so I convinced my girlfriend that we could walk to the tube station at Heathrow Terminal 4 from our hotel.

Well to make a story that took forever to be made much, much shorter: that felt like one of the longest walks we've ever taken. This was our proposed route. My girlfriend had a slight chest cold at the time, and being London it was drizzly, and cold, and overcast, and all of my prognostications regarding the duration of the walk were soon proven untrue. There were multiple times where she simply wanted to give up on the walk and hail a cab -- and I didn't entirely disagree with her, but traffic always seemed to be flowing away from us and none of the cabs seemed willing to be hailed.

So on we trudged. And trudged. Like in the movies, we experienced mirages: of brick-and-cement buildings we thought were the station, which soon dissolved into drab warehouse; of ticket machines and Oyster card readers that were really rubbish bins or ATMs or doors. Every curve in the road promised Terminal Four just beyond, and it seemed every time it did not present itself, the walk got so much longer, so much more impossible. Then, finally, we saw the Hatton Cross station and it was one of the sweetest moments of our lives. I had totally overlooked that station's existence and it was, truly, an amazing surprise. Suddenly we were re-invigorated! Our legs felt slightly less dead! The flights of stairs leading underground were nothing! The Tube was the greatest thing ever! And most importantly, we could finally laugh about the ridiculousness of the walk (it took far longer than the 36 minutes listed at that link).

We gladly took the Tube, thankful for the seats -- and, hilariously, we finally saw the almost-mythical Terminal Four station at the very next stop -- and did some more walking and gawking around London. At the end of the day, we took the Tube back to Hatton Cross. This time we gratefully and patiently waited for a cab (of which only two seemed to appear at any one time at the station). Finally we had a cab, and climbed in, and expressed our gratefulness to the driver. After we told him the story about our morning, he turned his head up so he could look me in the eye in the rear-view mirror, cocked an eyebrow, and asked, "Are you in the...habit of doing that much walking?" It was a totally hilarious, totally appropriate, and totally British question, and of course we cracked up.

To more directly answer your question: I do not recommend walking to Heathrow. We still refer to things that seem like we'll never get to as "Terminal Four." But, if you do decide to do so, two things: one, yes, there were sidewalks during the entire trek (though we did not walk in any tunnels); and two, you will have a lot -- and I mean A LOT -- of airplanes descending or ascending a mere few hundred feet over your head as you walk along. That was really, really cool.

Good luck!
posted by m0nm0n at 7:10 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


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