This week in 2012 we moved from Dulwich to Greenwich – as one of our American friend joked ‘from one silent W neighbourhood to another’. Soon after moving we won a contract from Greenwich Healthy Living Service, part of the borough council, to create more than 100 walking and cycling routes centred on children and health centres around the borough. This was to form part of the Olympic legacy as Greenwich itself was one of the five Olympic boroughs. We had to assemble a team of more than a dozen to research and devise the routes and it all had to be done in double quick time so that everything would be ready for the summer spectacular. This was an incredible opportunity to discover more about the borough into which we had just moved and it also planted a seed of an idea which we’d like to bring to fruition in 2020.
Four years later we had the privilege of interviewing Claudia Zieske, founding in director of The Walking Institute and the community arts organisation Deveron Projects. One of Claudia’s many successes has been the establishment of a Slow Marathon event that takes place around Huntly in Aberdeenshire over a weekend. It’s not a race or a test of endurance but an invitation to undertake a journey on foot to reflect, be thoughtful, and look on life and one’s surroundings with fresh eyes.
Our plan for 2020 is to run four seasonal slow marathons around the boundary of the Royal Borough of Greenwich which quite remarkably is almost the exact distance of the marathon. Arguably we can’t walk up the centre of the Thames or along Deptford Creek and it wouldn’t be much fun to walk along the A2 for long, so what we’re hoping to establish is a pleasant route that keeps us close to the borough boundary. Greenwich may have been an Olympic borough, but it has many other spectacular places to visit, boasting a World Heritage site, The Millennium Dome, the Thames Barrier and our walk we will cross the Prime Meridian at least twice, stepping from one hemisphere to another. It’s northern boundary is the river Thames and our route will be on a National Trail but it will also include part of the Green Chain one of London’s six strategic walks. Greenwich is one of the greenest London boroughs, and there is a ridge of chalk that runs almost its entire central spine, which means that some of our route will involve climbing but we will try to avoid the steepest ascents. The borough has recently had a London National Park City* Greenwich urban green map created for it. Whether by luck or judgement the borough boundary of Greenwich has very convenient public transport links, so it is easy to join the route at several points.
Our aim is to develop a platform based on Seasonal Slows for a series of nomadic festivals celebrating art, literature, nature and community endeavour – this is the start of what we hope will develop over the seasons to come.
So we would like to invite you along to join us on a Seasonal Slow beginning with a fact-finding, match-making, route defining* walk over the weekend of Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of January. We would like to start promptly at 10 am on Saturday at the Thames foot tunnel entrance by the Cutty Sark (SE10 9HT) and walk along a route that includes passing through Deptford, running parallel with the Creek, climbing onto Blackheath, walking through Lee, Eltham and Oxleas Meadows to finish at Falconwood railway station (SE9 2RN)
Starting again on Sunday, the 26th of January at the same time of 10 am but this time from Falconwood railway station walking north towards Lesnes Abbey Woods through Bostall Woods, along parts of the Green Chain, and then to Thamesmead, to join the Thames Path walking upstream back to the Cutty Sark.
We would love it if you could join us and bring an open mind ready to offer suggestions and ideas as to how we can create Seasonal Slow Marathons an enjoyable adventure for one and all.
We are going to try a new ticketing arrangement in which we are going to ask you to pay just £5 to secure your place and offer this back to you on completion of the first half of the walk, offering you a choice of generously donating your ticket fee towards the administration cost of future Seasonal Slows. Book your places here (bring a group for a day of walking discoveries)
We will be equipping you with a journal and a pen with which we hope you’ll take notes of things you observe, suggestions and thoughts you have of how we can improve on the experience, as well as share contacts.
It’s midwinter so please come prepared with warm waterproof clothing and sensible shoes for the most part we will be walking on footways but there maybe some rough tracks. We want to try to choose a route that is accessible as possible but inevitably for our first few forays this may not be possible.
We envisage that we will be walking for about six hours on each day covering a distance of between 12 and 14 miles so we won’t be walking at a great pace but it is quite a distance. Please make sure you bring a packed lunch and a bottle of water as we cannot guarantee many refreshment stops along the route.
Our plans are to encourage Seasonal Slows to take place in April, July and October – you can book places on these in advance, however dates might have to change depending on calendar clashes of which we are as yet unaware .
Do please Get in touch if you are a local business, school or organisation and want to explore promotional opportunities, or wish to use Seasonal Slows for fundraising or as a charitable event.
*the borough boundary will be our guide, sometimes we may slip into a neighbouring borough – we want to thank ‘Gus’ Wedmore for helping us devise and track an initial Seasonal Slow Marathon pat .
All about walking blog posting is unpredictable – if it’s raining biblical downpours then a blog post is more likely to appear, in most other weather conditions we are out walking and not blogging on a keyboard…..