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A trip to Flanders pt 4: London's Calling

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

The fourth day of my jaunt to Flanders in 2016 .........

Day 4

That London, big init?!?!

You certainly appreciate the size and diversity of our capital city when you spend a day running right across it. And you also appreciate (retrospectively) another advantage of canal towpaths – quiet spots to answer calls of nature are much easier to come by than in the streets of a big city!

Anyway: Day 4 saw me setting out from the centre of Watford on a cool Sunday morning, in heavy rain that looked like it was around to stay. ‘If it’s going to carry on like this’ I thought, ‘I’m going to give that 90th birthday street party Lizzy invited me to a miss’.

So instead I headed south east through the affluent ‘burbs of Bushey, the edgy streets of Colindale, the UK’s largest Jewish settlement of Golders Green and towards the infamous Hampstead Heath.

Just as I was getting into my stride, I soon realised that overnight efforts to replenish my energy stores and stay hydrated had created an issue that needed to be dealt with quite urgently.

After a dangerous half hour, Tesco fortunately came to my rescue. But, being an 'Extra' version of the shop, it added more 'bonus' distance and quizzical looks than I'd bargained for, as the facilities were both upstairs and as far from the entrance as they possibly could be. Who knew Tesco and Whetherspoons hired the same architect!.

Having got a weight off my mind, the day started to become more enjoyable.

I paused for a moment at the top of Parliament Hill to admire the London skyline spread out before me. Despite the cloud shrouding the top of The Shard, it looks quite impressive from up there.

And by lunchtime I was arriving at St Pancras International. No, not to catch the Eurostar direct to Belgium, in case you were wondering. I was there to meet my wife and daughter, who’d spent the last 3 days on a exciting mini-break that had taken them by rail to the glamorous towns of Rugby, Milton Keynes and Watford. ‘What a coincidence’ I hear you say……..

After a quick lunch together they headed north back to Derbyshire, while I continued south to get a closer look at some of the sights I’d seen from Parliament Hill. The rain had stopped and the heat was rising again as I trotted past Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf and the Cutty Sark, before tackling the hill up to the Greenwich Observatory to enjoy the London skyline again from the other side.

There was welcome respite at the bottom of the Isle of Dogs though. Much to my surprise, I found a friend of mine (Steve) waiting for me next to the Greenwich foot tunnel. He’d been following my tracker and had dashed across east London to meet me and buy me a cup of tea. What a gentleman!

After a pleasant 20 mins or so, we bid our farewells and I headed for the steps down to the tunnel. ‘Be careful’ Steve shouted after me, ‘remember you’re going saaaf of the river’.

Once out of Greenwich Park and onto Blackheath I knew that I’d broken the back of the day. My spirits were high in the knowledge that just another 6 miles or so of running would get me to Sidcup, my destination for the day.

After a shower and a bit of time to relax it was time to enjoy another nice surprise, although I knew about this one a couple of days earlier. A running club mate (another Steve) was passing by on a business trip and stopped off to buy me dinner and a pint of a well known sports nutrition drink. I’ll give you a clue, it’s black and originates from Dublin 😉

After an enjoyable hour stuffing my face and catching up with Steve, it was time to sleep and look forward to some quality off-road running tomorrow as I head for the North Downs.

Oh, almost forgot, here are the stars:

Miles covered: 34.52 (158.41 accumulative)

Time elapsed: 7:40:59

Time moving: 6:05:35

Elevation gain: 1376ft (London is actually quite lumpy).

Average pace: 10:35/mile (1 sec a mile quicker than yesterday – I’m going to be flying by the time I get to Flanders!).

Consumption during the run:

– Tuna mayo and cucumber baguette

– 1 packet of crisps

– 2 litres of Tailwind mix

– 1 litre of plain water (less than yesterday – bladder management , see above)

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