The Great Saunter
The George Washington Bridge
My Team at the end of The Saunter!
Preparation: 3 Tips
A bit of training for when trying to do 25 to 32 miles in a day is a good thing!
- Good, tested walking sneakers/trainers and those socks with thicker ‘feet’!
- Tell yourself in advance its ‘ok’ to say ‘I’ve had enough’!
- Bathrooms: There are surprisingly several free ones, you can Google this in advance.
Background and an admission!
The Great Saunter is the wonderful walk around the perimeter of the island of Manhattan. It is 32 miles and you can do it in a day; realistically 11 to 15 hours. (The latter was partly because my friend insisted on a detour to Harlem’s Apollo Theatre at one point!).
Exploring New York City on foot
Beyond Time Square, the famous Museums and the major sights there are so many interesting travel ideas in New York City.
This post is actually about 3 separate lengthy walks in New York City:
- One, two years ago, and this was the full Great Saunter, all 32 miles in a long day, with a still hobbling friend
- The second was a fundraiser I arranged for a development project in Sierra Leone and 18 of us attempted the ‘full Great Saunter’ but due to impressive thunder and lightning on the southern loop we (wisely!) abandoned it at after 25 miles
- The third, same fundraiser, was 24 miles and in these times of alternative facts, this was The Alternative Saunter. (The route was NY Penn Stn >up Central Park to East 102nd St>Wards Island Footbridge>RFK Bridge into Queens>Astoria Boulevard>Socrates Sculpture Park>Roosevelt Island Bridge>Aerial Tramway>South on 2nd (Gemini Diner at 35th)>to East River Walkway>via Battery Park back up West Side Walkway to 34th and Penn).
Long Walks but with so much of interest
These sound like long walks but as all my co walkers all point out, in fact they don’t seem that long as in New York there is always so much to view and discuss. Of course if you divert to the many Museums, Parks, Buildings, Churches, Cafes the walk will take 2-3 weeks so a focus has to be maintained.
I enjoyed a stop at a Cuban Café in Harlem and the Gemini Diner in Midtown and various other ‘snackeries’ in between.
Walking Around Manhattan
The highlights of the West Side footpath include the river and its traffic and as we went in the fall, the colorful views of New Jersey on the west side of The Hudson; the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier, Fairways Market (and bathroom) for coffee and bagels at 132nd St. The vast George Washington Bridge above you, gives way to Fort Washington Park and Inwood Park at the northern tip….where few seem to venture! Around Colombia University you make your way to the banks of the narrow East River. Gradually Yankee Stadium comes into view and the skyscrapers begin to dominate. You have to come away from the river to go around the United Nations HQ but around 35th St. you can head back the block or 2 and commence the long walk around the southern tip of Manhattan. This is busier with other walkers and around the Staten Island Ferry it can be crowded. Revitalised, post 9/11, Downtown provides many joggers and cyclists for the last 5-6 miles to entertain you.
One of my Alternative Saunters
The Alternative Saunter through the ever beautiful Central Park was equally interesting. The views from the RKF Bridge ensure you see a different side of NYC. But the walkway is high and a bit narrow for those of us not too keen on heights. For our day walking through Queens there was an abundance of events, and community gatherings of all sorts. The Roosevelt Aerial Tramway (part of Subway MTA system), provides a brief spectacular vantage point, so have your camera ready in advance .
I can guarantee you will see different parts of NYC and I am now planning the next an alternative Alternative Saunter!