mundane adventures in running

Wild in the streets

In my last blog post I wrote about Rannoch Moor, my desire to escape London and my desire to experience something close to wilderness.

I reflected on it for a few days afterwards. I want to experience something which is far removed from my daily life. I don’t feel constrained by London, or trapped by London, but there is a part of my humanity, or perhaps my animalness which I neglect. It’s this bit of me that I want to feed. I want to feel as though I’ve been removed from my daily life. I want to experience, to some extent, the human being that I evolved to be: a human being in a natural environment, connected to the planet, past of nature rather than something above nature, all meta and hyper evolved.

I quickly got to thinking how it must be possible to experience shades of this in without leaving London. There must be places which let me feel dislocated from my actual life and immersed in another.

There are places that I love in London, cemeteries, parks, forgotten green lanes, preserved and abandoned spaces which give me this feeling. I’ve visited a lot of these over the years.  I havent tried to look at them through this lens.  Sydenham Woods, Hampstead Heath, Nunhead Cemetery are places I know, and love, but not places I’ve visited with the specific goal of encountering wildness, encountering otherness, momentarily stepping out of my own shoes.

So, I’m planning a crowd sourced challenge. If anybody can recommend a wild seeming place in London (within the M25) I’ll visit, go for a run and possibly report the results here. I’ll try and visit all of them before Christmas, but it’s a fair old list, so no promises.

I already asked for recommendations, but without quite such a preamble on my facebook profile. These are the suggestions I have so far:

Highgate Woods

Nunhead Cemetery

Dulwich/ Sydenham woods

Epping forest

Lettsom Gardens

Wimbledon Common

Putney Common

Hackney Marshes

Camberwell Old Cemetery, Camberwell New Cemetery, Brockley and Ladywell

St Mary’s Cray, Foots Cray

Abney Park cemetery

Oxleas wood, shooters hill

Hounslow Heath

Highgate Cemetery


Mudchute Farm

First, it’s worth noting that my friends appear to be incredibly gothic. Why so many cemeteries? I suspect there might be a special type of wilderness in the places we have left behind, the places where people have walked and left traces, but no one lives now.  Few places are more literally uninhabited and unlived in than cemeteries. Or my friends are obsessed with mortality.

There are lots of familiar places on this list, which I will go back to and try and see with fresh eyes, and a couple of new ones which I’m quite excited about visiting. I’d be really grateful for any more suggestions. I think this is going to be a lovely challenge.


One comment on “Wild in the streets

  1. poacher

    A walk/run up from Greenwich across the Isle of Dogs up the Lea Valley via the Limehouse Cut to Hackney and beyond sounds spot on.

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