London: the step-by-step guide: Michael Leapman enjoys a walk that begins and ends in a beguiling cemetery

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The Independent Culture
a walk that starts and ends in a cemetery and offers a view of one of London's main prisons is suitably ghoulish for Hallowe'en. The General Cemetery of All Souls in Kensal Green was the first of eight large out-of-town cemeteries established in the 1830s after a series of cholera epidemics caused in part by the filth of the overcrowded central graveyards.

Turn left out of Kensal Green Tube station, then right along Harrow Road, crossing at the lights and passing the Masons Arms. On your left, enter the common gate of the Catholic and Anglican cemeteries and the crematorium. The gate is open from 9am-5pm every day except Sunday, when it opens at 10am.

There are guided tours every Sunday at 2pm.

You can pick up a map from the attendant at the entrance booth which shows the location of graves of the famous. Most are in the vicinity of the Anglican Chapel. To reach it, take the main path that runs south-east from the gate and turn left where paths cross. Walk round to the front of the chapel to see the elaborate monuments to Princess Sophia and the Duke of Sussex, children of George III, whose patronage made it for a time the capital's most fashionable burial place.

Near them is a tablet to the cartoonist George Cruikshank, who was buried there briefly in 1878 before being transferred to St Paul's. Among those who stayed put are the writers William Thackeray, James Barry, Anthony Trollope, Leigh Hunt and Wilkie Collins and the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, beneath an overgrown marble shoe-box. Some other tombs are of great splendour, housing forgotten captains of Victorian industry.

Walk east through the cemetery and leave it through the Greek Revival arch that used to be the main entrance. Turn right and right again at the Plough to walk over the bridge that carries Ladbroke Grove over the canal. While repairs are under way there is no direct access from the bridge to the towpath: you have to cross it, take the first turning on the right and walk through Sainsbury's car park, leaving at the far right-hand corner.

You join the towpath almost opposite the gates where coffins used to be brought to the cemetery by barge. Turn left on the paved path and keep an eye open for coots, ducks and occasional fishermen. A path by a picnic table leads to a raised platform with a view over railway lines.

Soon afterwards you come to a red and blue metal bridge. Go under it and climb to the road, turning right (south) into Scrubs Lane. After the road curves right to pass under a railway bridge, take the marked entrance to Wormwood Scrubs on your right.

This common was once a military training ground and is best known for its prison, visible through the trees ahead as you enter. It is far from being London's most alluring open space but pleasant enough as, turning sharp right after you enter, you follow the line of trees and keep close to the railway on your right, with playing fields on your left. When the trees end, continue to keep as close to the railway as you can.

At certain times the grassy space on your left is designated for flying model planes, and you may be lucky enough to see some impressive machines.

Leave the Scrubs at the far right-hand corner and turn right into Old Oak Common Lane, going under and over railway bridges. A sign at the entrance to the railway works on the right reads: 'Loco spotters keep out'. Just after the road swings left to cross another railway bridge, turn right at the mini-roundabout into Old Oak Lane.

Soon you will see a steep path on your right, beneath an advertisement hoarding, taking you briefly back to the canal towpath. Turn right, go under two bridges and climb a brown metal footbridge that leads across to an industrial estate. Follow the path and turn right on Hythe Road.

When you come to a junction with a bridge on your left, continue almost straight ahead. Soon you reach another railway bridge where you have to go through the pedestrian tunnel on its left, decorated with canal scenes.

Cross Scrubs Lane and turn left. On the approach to the bridge over the railway turn right through a metal gate into the Catholic cemetery and walk through it to the gate where you began. The cemetery is locked at 4.30pm: after that you must walk up to Harrow Road and turn right for the Tube.

Length: Four and a half miles Time: Two hours, plus time to explore cemetery Underground: Kensal Green (Bakerloo Line) Bus: 18 Parking: In streets by Tube station (Photograph omitted)

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