Thursday, 13 September 2012

Walking the Capital Ring

London deserves the title ‘ Best City in the World’ for many reasons and one of it is that after 10 years of living here, I’m still discovering spots that I’ve never been to. This summer for instance, I’ve set myself the challenge to walk the Capital Ring; A green corridor that circles around the capital’s green spaces. The total distance is around 78 miles or 126 km, take your pick.

I stumbled upon it once when taking a leisurely stroll in Richmond along the Thames and noticed these small signposts of the walking man dotted along the way. Of course being the curious George that I am, I googled it and voila, a new obsession was born: Finish the entire thing in one summer. The current status: One stretch of around 15 km to go.

Not only is it a great reminder of how green London actually is, it also takes you to lesser known places tugged away in parts of the city you otherwise might never go to. It passes river banks, goes through city parks, and follows tow paths. You even encounter woodlands and forests so dense and green that you might forget for a moment that you’re in one of the most cosmopolitan places in Europe. Although you’re reminded of this by the planes flying overhead and cars whizzing by on the motorways here and there. You’ll discover castles, and mansions such as Eltham Palace and Charlton House and many other historic places of interest like the bohemian Abney Park Cemetery. The trail goes through quaint neighbourhoods also some not so quaint ones, across fields and over hills, treating you to sweeping views of London and its surroundings. At Hackney Wick you even get a good look at the Olympic Stadium.

Walking the Capital Ring also shows you how multi-culti our city is. On one walk from South Kenton to Highgate I witnessed preparations for a Hindu wedding, passed a Muslim father and son and an orthodox Jewish family all in the space of 1 hour. Although the latter did shoo me away like a stray dog, but that’s what happens when you show too much flesh in Barnet on the Shabbat. Being so close to the end of the walk now, it’s made me realise that I’m still not fed up with this incredibly versatile and multi-faceted city.