On Saturday I went on a 10 and a half mile walk across London – braving the snow and freezing wind for a very worth cause as I accompanied Ian Wright of Randomly London on part of his mission to walk the entire tube network in aid of Bowel Cancer UK. We were also joined by Mandy from the Emm In London blog who, perhaps rather sensibly, decided that Rotherhithe was the best place to quit!
Ian is just over halfway through now, having walked seven of the twelve lines, and he anticipates that the whole thing will involve around 375 miles of pavement pounding – although the network itself only has 250 miles of track its quite difficult to stick close to the line at various points along the respective tube routes, and that’s not counting getting lost which he admits to having done on a few occasions! Ian hopes to raise £16,013 in total – this was the number of people who died in the UK from bowel cancer in 2011, when he started on his fundraising efforts.
Our walk earlier this weekend was rather nostalgic, as Ian had decided to walk the route of the old East London Line (which was subsumed into the Overground network in 2010) which used to run from Shoreditch in the north to New Cross and New Cross Gate in the south. I found it a fascinating experience, not least because walking through mile after mile of unfamiliar backstreets is a stark reminder of how little each of us really knows our city – when it comes down to it most of us only recognise the route from work to home, or to the homes of our friends and the places where we go to enjoy ourselves.
We made some uncomfortable discoveries too – intellectually I know that London’s pub trade is suffering, but the huge number of shuttered pubs that we came across were unexpected. True, some have been converted to residential use but most are just being allowed to crumble and decay – it’s quite sad to come face to face with the fact that large sections of London’s urban history are being wiped away simply because of the prevailing economic conditions. It also turns out that Rotherhithe is the home of the capital’s abandoned sofas – they seem to flock together for protection in this particular part of south London…
I think it’s fair to say that when Ian has completed this gargantuan task he’s going to more familiar with London than even the most seasoned black cab driver – it will represent a remarkable achievement. If you want to help then why not pay a visit to the Just Giving page that Ian has set up – I can think of few other charities more worthy of your money than Bowel Cancer UK. They’re doing great work to tackle a terrible killer disease.