Growing up in the Peak District, actor Richard Lumsden spent his childhood pulling on his hiking boots and trekking the hills. Now he loves nothing more than putting on his trainers and heading out into the leafy, green spaces of north London. So when the script for independent film Downhill, about four old school friends who reunite to attempt an epic coast-to-coast walk across the UK, landed on his mat, he leapt at the chance.

“I completely fell in love with the project from the start,” says the 49-year-old East Finchley resident, “and I just loved everything about it, it was a genuine pleasure to do.”

The film, directed by James Rouse, has been shown at cinemas across the country and next week is coming to the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, right on Richard’s doorstep.

“It’s my local cinema,” says Richard, who has also starred in Sightseers and Sense & Sensibility and is a writer and composer too. “I’m one of the friends, so I’m thrilled it’s going to be shown there.”

The film follows four characters – Gordon, played by Richard, Keith, Steve and Julian – as they each attempt to unburden themselves of their demons, and reminds them why, despite tantrums, wrong turns, let-downs, vicious arguments and life-changing revelations, they became friends in the first place.

How much of Wainwright’s famed, 192-mile coast to coast walk, beginning at St Bees in Cumbria and finishing at Robin Hood’s Bay in the North York Moors, did the cast and crew actually do?

“We were working it out and reckon it was about 192 miles times four,” laughs Richard. “We did it chronologically, starting in London then we headed up to St Bees in a minibus, shot there, then moved a bit further down the trail for the next scene.

“We would get out of the bus and go up a hill for a couple of hours to the right location, shoot, then go back down with all the equipment and move on to the next place. It was quite tiring but it was a really enjoyable way to spend your day.

“It was very much hands-on filmmaking. It was shot by a very small crew with no luxuries, us basically carrying our costumes in a rucksack, washing our socks at night, drying them on the radiator and putting them on again the next day.”

Filming took place over four weeks in June 2012 – one of the wettest summers on record, which proved something of a challenge for the cast and crew.

“It absolutely chucked it down,” laughs Richard. “When you see us working our way through the storms and rain, that was all absolutely for real. But if you tried to shoot a film about walking across the UK all in beautiful sunlight, people wouldn’t believe it!”

The route reignited Richard’s love of walking and the British outdoors.

“It’s such a beautiful part of the country, and seeing the landscape change was just amazing - obviously the Lake District was very dramatic, then heading up to the North York Moors, they were beautiful.”

Richard moved down to London – first to Shepherds Bush, then West Hampstead before settling in East Finchley 12 years ago – to pursue his acting career and soon discovered the capital had its own beautiful scenery to explore on foot.

“I go running three or four times a week and I look at a map to find places I’ve not run to before,” he says. “Not long ago I found the Dollis Valley River Walk, where you head up to Mill Hill and round to Golders Green. I was discovering all sorts of little green areas that I hadn’t found before, it was a real pleasure. You can’t believe you’re in London still.”

  • Downhill is at the Phoenix Cinema, High Road, East Finchley on Monday, July 7 at 8.30pm. Details: 020 8444 6789,