Wednesday 9 May 2018


Few days ago I have walked the whole length of the Greenway from West to East in opposite direction of the sun on a boiling day. I did half of the walk few years ago but stopped by the East London Cemetery in Plaistow. The walk starts between the A12 and  Old Ford Lock in Hackney Wick. At first nothing has much changed part that local artisans/artists have put their touch here and there in the background with little installations and graffitis. As you approach the London Stadium the bit on the right remains a vacant in limbo piece of land similar to a laboratory. I have seen this part changing so many times over the past 10 years. It is the perfect allegory of the East End, a land in fusion. On the right stands the new West Ham Football Stadium and right in between a new running track and new plain building whose function is unknown to me.

As I started this walk I was expecting walking the full length of the Greenway hoping the bit by the ViewPoint Green Container Café would have been restored and open to the public. Sadly it isn't. Speaking to a warden officer working on the other side of the train track on a parking lot/allotments temporary area he told me that wouldn't happen before 3 to 4 years. So I walk along the canal to reach the A118 High Street and carry on.

Nothing has much changed here apart that the Abbey Mills Pumping Station seems to have been partially restored and properly protected. The once public areas are now closed. I carry on and the path is stretching long. The vegetation is lush and comforting. The partial background noise of traffic can be heard but the Greenway keeps you sheltered.

As the path slightly bends by crossing Balaam Street in Plaistow you suddenly discern the Barking Creek Barrier in the far distance. It strangely looks much bigger than it should be being so far away. Perspective illusions occur when the surrounding landscape is so flat and barren. The path is now quite empty and you can hear people's music, discussions and occupations behind the wall of vegetation. It is a very peaceful and pleasing experience.

The greenway has now reached the East Ham interchange by the A13. You walk around it and carry on South-East. Walk by the artificial Hill and verge right. You then enter the last proper section. This one is empty of souls and is squeezed between 2 vast industrial estates. The one on the right is company based and the one on the left is retail. Out the of the flatness experienced totems of all shapes emerge.

 The tail of the Greenway divides as you reach the Royal Docks Road A1020 (or Northern Circular extension) I choose the one on the left to walk towards Barking. The decor becomes busy and dirty, I don't like it. Here and there you find some oddities such as wind turbine and horses. My journey ends as I leave Newham by the Roding River.

The Greenway isn't the most exciting of trail but it has its charm. It is a very convenient corridor for the locals to reach various point either by walk or ride. But for me the joy it has provided me lied in the disconnection experienced despite being so present within the urban landscape. It offers a unique mental space where you can breathe, think and project on its blank canvas.

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