London’s trees technically make it a forest, and there’s greenery all around. But the city’s real pleasures are found in the urban-rural tension that you come across on this 78-mile route
It’s Friday night on the Greenway path just outside the Olympic Park in east London. The last band of orange sky hangs lightly over the sleeping stadiums. Enough people linger in the gloom for the instincts to quicken. Far from the flash of trendier bits of town, a topless man dances solo to beats from his phone. An old lady wheezes between cigarettes, and a couple canoodle on a park bench.
I wouldn’t normally come here, particularly at this hour, but I’ve given myself two and half days to walk the Capital Ring, a 78-mile pedestrian lap of London (click here for TfL map). I check my map to gauge progress just as a bike goes by, blaring hip-hop from a hidden speaker. Some kids join in the refrain and I do too, if only to myself.