17 June: would you join me for a run?


To celebrate the new edition of of Bob Gilbert’s book The Green London Way, I’ve been invited to run the four miles from Cambridge Heath to Stratford stations.  The book, the invitation, and the route each require explanation.

First the book: originally published in 1991, Gilbert’s book is a guide to a circular route of around 110 miles around the edges of London, taking in rivers, canal and tow-paths, abandoned railway lines, urban footpaths, parks and common land. The book breaks this route up into two dozen walks, illustrated by commentary on the places through which the route takes you and their social and political history. Imagine a guided urban ramble in which your chaperone turns out to be a mixture of Marx, Kropotkin and David Bellamy.

As for the challenge, the idea of running a stretch of The Green London Way was proposed to me by Mark Perryman, a regular contributor to this blog. On Friday July 27, while the Olympic bigwigs are attending the Games’ opening ceremony, Mark is organising an Alternative Olympic Party at the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green. He has already invited a poet, a singer and a photographer to walk the above route. A runner himself, Mark has invited me to run it myself and report what I see. My interest is piqued by the route chosen: from Cambridge Heath station to (and through) the Olympic Park and beside the Olympic stadium. Without wishing to rehash statistics about the extraordinary numbers of private security guards, police and soldiers that are being employed for duration of the Games, by the time the Games start this will be the most heavily policed district of London, perhaps even of the world.

The route will take us in and out of Coe’s London – past sites of industrial accidents, Victorian mills, in view of film studios and Lakshi Mittal’s helter-skelter folly. I will be bringing with me the relevant pages of Gilbert’s guidebook. We will follow the green route in the map above.

Subject to finding any readers who would be interested in running this route with me; my current plan is to run it starting at 3pm on 17 June at Cambridge Heath station. Expect four miles or so of urban London at a gentle pace (c9-10 minutes per mile) depending on who joins in and whether I can manage another fortnight without injury.

Dear reader; would you care to join me?


2 responses »

  1. Mark, Thanks for the publicity for the book but you haven’t yet picked up on the fact that the route displayed here will be partially closed when you do your run as a result of Olympic ‘security’. The alternative route, which I used with other participants in the Alternative Olympic party this week, and which is displayed on the book’s web-site, is as follows:

    Following on from page 258 in the book:
    Instead of leaving the Hertford Union towpath after the second lock, continue along it to the junction with the Lea Navigation. Turn left to cross the bridge over the navigation, rejoin the towpath and continue ahead (i.e. not turning beneath the bridge) on the towpath alongside the Olympic site.
    After approximately 1 mile, the towpath crosses a new footbridge onto the opposite bank, runs beneath Stratford High Street and continues until emerging on Three Mills Lane.
    Turn left to cross the canal bridge and walk through the Three Mills site (described on page 263 of the book).
    At the far end of the site, in front of Three Mills Studios, turn left. Follow the path for a short distance between the back of the mills and the studios, until you reach a small road on your right. Turn onto this road and you have rejoined the Green London Way route. Continue, following the instructions from ‘Around Mill Meads’ on page 264.

    But….please note that between 3rd July and 10th September even this diversion will also be unavailable due to the closure of the Lea Navigation footpath!

    Best wishes for your run,

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