The route of the torches for the 2012 London Olympic Games, published yesterday, boasts an 8,000 mile procession through the UK – but will only be carried on foot for one quarter of that distance. Time spent in boats and planes is inescapable but for most of 75% of its progress it will be in a car.
However, some of its alternatives to carriage on foot should be fun. It won’t always sneak away in a car. It will be on horseback and in a canoe. It will be carried in a sidecar on the Isle of Man’s TT route, ‘abseil’ down the tower at Grimsby dock tower drift in a helium balloon over Cornwall’s Eden Project eco-attraction, ride white water rapids in Hertfordshire and take a zip wire across the Tyne Bridge.
Whatever the route, it was never going to satisfy everyone but this one seems curiously devoid of a set of guiding policies behind the choices of arrival points.
As it is, its very much a bit of this and a bit of that. It pops up one mountain – Snowdon,. It stops by one landmark piece of public art – the Angel of the North. It will nod at Hadrian’s Wall, see the sun come up at Stonehenge – and spend one of its last nights on tour, locked up alone in the Tower of London. Poor choice of symbolic timing. Wasn’t this the place from which the imprisoned were taken to their deaths?
In terms of the devolved nations, the ‘flame’ (actually gas canisters in individual torches) has:
- 6 destinations in Wales: Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Snowdon, Bangor and Beaumaris (Anglesey).
- 6 destination in Northern Ireland: Belfast, Ballymena, Portrush, Londonderry (ahem), Newry and Newcastle.
- 12 destinations in Scotland: Dumfries, Stranraer, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Stoproway, Kirkwall, Lerwick and John of Groats.
There’s a skite to the Isle of Man with a stop at Castletown, Jersey and Guernsey get a flash past each and the rest of the stops are in England.
While it is not fair to grouse because something like this can never meet all expectations, the organisers have been foolish in making the inflated claim that the route takes in every county and borough. This sort of boast simply attracts the nerds (like us) to see if it’s accurate.
It is minimally true in that the route skirts the eastern and northerm fringes of the mighty Argyll – the nearest it comes is passing through Dumbarton, Luss, Tarbet, Tyndrum and Glencoe.
If it touches Sutherland or Skye and Wester Ross, show us where it does.
It looks to us from the details, that it flies from Inverness to Kirkwall, to Lerwick, to Stornoway and back to Inverness.
The entire west coast of Scotland is a blank. Apart from the obligatory touch down at John o’Groats, so is the north coast.
There is an honour on being a place that keeps its own counsel.