Today (Exhale coffee legend) Alex and I ran one of our favourite London routes - Haringay Ladder. It is a real gem of a route in North London and it looks amazing on the map!
You start at either Haringay or Turnpike Lane station and then you proceed to run up and down all the roads between the two. What makes this even more special is that when you have finished running the 'ladders' you run around the 'box' and then you find the magical passageway that runs down the spine of the ladder - it is a truly magical space in the thrust and bustle of London.
Whilst on this glorious run Alex and I were discussing the Exhale coffee community and their curious nature for movement and the wilds of nature. It seemed appropriate to share more about what we do at Camino Ultra and especially with the Greenways project. We share with Team Exhale the belief that through movement (and challenges) and being in nature you can really discover some of the core elements that can make you feel more alive.
The Greenways was set up as a way of showcasing trails 'in all four corners of London'. A way of introducing these as healthy 'entry-level' trail routes for runners and walkers who perhaps have been more familiar with the amazing Park-runs and city 10KMs/Half marathons which exist. Trails are often seen as a complexity of navigation and mix of terrains where you can end up with ankle deep mud or lost in fields of cows........and yes these are all possible......and they should be welcomed and embraced in order to get the most out of the experience.
The picture above is from the 'Dollis Valley' Greenway. It is a fabulous trail from North West London that weaves its way through forests and fields (and yes in February it included a lot of mud - which isn't anywhere near as bad (or fun depending which way you view this) now).
GREENWAYS CHALLENGE: we actually set the Greenways up as 12 month challenge. We created 12 routes and we release a new one on the 1st of each month. Everyone who takes part gets sent a 'pack' via email and inside this pack you will find every bit of useful information that you need to complete the route.
Some helpful bits of information:
You complete the route when you want (with anyone you want - could be your dog or with kids cycling beside you)
There is always a lot of helpful info in the pack - how to get to the start and from the finish using public transport
We also try and share where you might find a toilet, a great coffee shop and even the best places on the route to take Instagram pics
When you complete the route you share the verification with us using a form and we send you a medal
There are 12 routes in total and each one is a puzzle piece - collect all 12 and you have the complete puzzle
Coming into London for the weekend - why not choose a Greenway with friends and do it as a 'one-off'
The above picture is the medal for the CELANDINE route - this is an 11 mile glorious route from Pinner Tube Station to Yiewsley. The medals are produced by a company called ZeroWaste and as their name states they use only recyclable materials.
Once a month we look to host a Social version of the Greenway. This is where Camino Coaches and Run Leaders help runners and walkers from the start to the end of the Greenway route. The groups find their own natural pace and Camino always enjoys it at the back. Most Greenways take between 1 to 2 hours and they can be a fabulous way to explore a new part of the city.
In one of the recent Social Runs we were joined by podcast legend Danny Easton and he recorded the group throughout the run. One of the things that he mentioned was that the Greenways felt like a 'Healthy Gateway Drug' for those people who were perhaps looking to do longer and more challenging runs in the future. We feel like Danny captured something there. These Greenways in particular take you past or near other iconic trails in London and after a while you can build up you own idea of how to link them together and ultimately create longer training runs or days out with friends.
So yes we believe that by starting with small accessible trail routes, that are on your doorstep, you can over-time build up the confidence to take on some of the longer trails and maybe dream of some of the iconic big distance routes that are well-known around the UK. Camino is also grateful to the support of organisations such as Black Trail Runners who have passionately embraced the Greenways project as a way to showcase to their friends and members that there are ways in which to explore trails inside a supportive community.
As well as the mighty Ladder there is another North London institution called The Claw
Set up by this legend - https://www.thehighgateclaw.run