diamond geezer

 Sunday, November 25, 2007

  Jubilee Greenway

  opens 2012

Jubilee WalkwayIn amongst all the celebrations surrounding the Queen's diamond wedding anniversary last week, you may have missed one particularly forward-looking announcement. London is to get a new long distance footpath. It'll be opening in 2012 - an auspicious year not just because of the Olympics but also because Her Majesty will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. The new footpath will be called the Jubilee Greenway, and it'll be a companion route to the existing Jubilee Walkway (established 1977). The Jubilee Greenway will be 60 kilometres long (did you see what they did there?) and will circle Central London linking together all the 2012 Olympic venues. Even better, the entire footpath already exists. All that the organisers have to do is to make it a bit more accessible and add some nice benches, and it'll be ready. Let's just hope that Her Maj doesn't snuff it prematurely during the next fifty months, rendering all their preparations unnecessary.

Jubilee Greenway website (just a one-page press release so far)
Jubilee Greenway map (pdf)

So, do you fancy walking the Jubilee Greenway five years early? Easy. Here's where it goes...

» Buckingham Palace: This being a circular route you can start anywhere. But starting outside the Queen's bedroom window somehow feels most appropriate. Head up Constitution Hill, dodging the traffic lights across Hyde Park Corner, and into...
» Hyde Park: This is Olympic Venue number 1, with the Serpentine due to host the wet bit of the Triathlon. The route passes the Diana Memorial Fountain, just in case you want slip over on some granite, then passes Kensington Palace, just in case you want to read any mad Diana poems tied to the front gate. Quick, escape this Diana mournfest by heading north through the backstreets of Paddington to Little Venice.
» Regent's Canal: I told you this footpath was nothing new. The Regent's Canal has been open since 1820, and the Jubilee Greenway will follow the towpath all the way from Little Venice to Victoria Park. On its way it passes Olympic Venues 2 and 3 - Lord's Cricket Ground (where the archery will be held) and Regent's Park (finishing line for the road cycling). Look, I've taken lots of photographs of the Regent's Canal already, just to show you what you're missing.
» Victoria Park: Ah, the green lung of the East End, and a magnificent open space to boot. This is Olympic Venue number 4, where the walking events will take place. Which means, ah yes, we must be very close to the Olympic Park itself.
» The Greenway: To us locals, the Greenway is just a long distance muggers paradise built on top of the main North London outfall sewer. But not for long. The western end (straight past the Olympic Stadium) is already getting a pre-2012 upgrade, and improvements are planned for the remainder later. And blimey, who'd have thought, this runty sewage-whiff backalley through Plaistow and East Ham appears to have lent its name to the entire Jubilee Greenway project.
» Beckton: Soulless housing estates and acres of dogwaste-littered parkland - what a gorgeous setting for our monarch's Diamond Jubilee tribute. Olympic Venue number 6, the ExCel Exhibition Centre, is almost nearby.
» The Woolwich Foot Tunnel: Just when you thought things couldn't get any grimmer, they do. The run-down council blocks of North Woolwich, the subterranean hellhole of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, and then the estuarine greyness of riverside Woolwich itself. The perfect place for a closely-fought gun battle (at Olympic Venue number 7).
» The Thames Path: Hmm, this is a bit of a cop-out. The Jubilee Greenway now follows the Thames Path almost all the way back to Buckingham Palace, which'll save an awful lot of money by not needing to upgrade it. See the Thames Barrier! Experience the grey industrial grimness of the North Greenwich Peninsula. Pause at the Dome (Olympic Venue number 8) for a brief burst of rampant commercialism. Pass through Maritime Greenwich (hey horse riding fans, it's Olympic venue number 9) past a hopefully-restored tea clipper. And then, oh blimey, it's a very long way round the Rotherhithe peninsula, keeping as close to the river as new housing developments will allow. Yes, I've taken lots of photos of this stretch too.
» Still the Thames Path: Under Tower Bridge and, finally, into the scenic heart of London. It's only taken us 57 miles to get to the good bit. Here the Jubilee Greenway will follow exactly the same riverside route as the Jubilee Walkway - two for the price of one. Past the Eye, over Westminster Bridge to Big Ben, and up Whitehall.
» Horseguards Parade: This is Olympic Venue number 10, solely because a committee of old men believe that beach volleyball's blatant mammary-jiggling deserves a place in the Games portfolio. And look, down at the other end of the Mall, there's Buckingham Palace which is back where we started. God bless you Ma'am, and do please try to hang on until at least your 86th birthday.

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