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?