Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Part 2 Grove Park to Streatham

For walk number two I was accompanied by the utterly fabulous Mr Emerson Povey. I first met Emerson through the 100days project we both were involved in and he has since become one of my favourite people in London. Despite being incredibly busy and stressed having worked all week trying to stop a most likely innocent man from being executed he still came along to keep me company and keep me entertained for the 11 miles between Grove Park and Streatham. He also took some much better photos than me, which can be seen here. Emerson even humoured me when we mistakenly followed the Capital Walk signs from the station that joined the route about a mile in, instead of the beginning of the section and I insisted on walking all the way back to the station and back to where we finished last time. And here we are by the proper start of the walk:

And weren't we glad we did re-trace our steps else we'd have missed this gem of a railway bridge. Welcome to South London people: prepared for the zombie apocalypse since 1980.

Initially this walk was a lot more urban than the first one. Or suburban rather. You could almost have been in any housing estate in the country. And then every now and then you'd get a veiw of Canary Warf:
The most depressing part of the walk for me was the track below. Although it's hard to tell (I will find my proper camera soon I promise!) these trees were in a strip of land at most 20 meters wide. Originally part of the Great North Wood, they were so penned in on either side it would almost have felt kinder if they'd been cut down altogether.

The walk did soon open up into more and denser woodland. Which is where we stopped for the all important first snack of the day. Mars Bar Rocky Road- marshmallows, cherries, rasins and digestive biscuits all bound together with melted down Mars Bars (or their cheaper Sansbury's equivalent). Delicious sugary goodness :-)

Although we probably stopped five minutes too early because very shortly after was the golf course club house and we stopped again for Em to get a cup of tea.

Walking on from the club house we walked into this:

Fortunately I had bought a new waterproof especially for these walks and I was actually quite excited to use it. I can't quite bring myself to buy waterproof trousers though- on the basis that they are just SO ugly. Might be necessary for future weeks though as my jeans did get pretty wet.

One of a few sections of the walk where we cut through beautiful spaces that were completly fenced off. The sign to the bottom right is a do not tresspass sign.

More snacks and sheltering from the rain:

By the time we reached Crystal Palace Park we were pretty tired. And Emerson's waterproof had completely given up. So we stopped in the cafe to eat chips. Although the freakiest mural in the world and screaming babies meant it wasn't particularly relaxing.

Once fed and dry(er) we headed on past the dinosaurs. Although Emerson and I, after a year of talking about it, had visited them only a few months ago, so we didn't spend too long looking at the giant concrete oddities.
A quick stop for the obligatory end of leg photo and then it was time to press on to Streatham before the rain started again and the sun went down.

The most interesting bits of the next leg were probably the views to Croydon and the North Downs, which my camera was incapable of capturing, and this house- built by the Victorian owner of P&O.

And then we crossed the border into Lambeth and for me familiar territory. This photo deservedly makes Streatham Common look beautiful. What I didn't snap was the sign on the fence just before we crossed into the common which essentially said don't go in a night if you don't want to get attacked. Welcome to Streatham!

I used to run to Streatham Common when I lived in West Norwood and I always loved the view from the top of the common. Unfortunately the rain obscured most of that but as it was getting darker the sky itself was just as impressive.

After 11 miles, unsuitable raincoats and blisters we were pretty tired. I still forced Emerson to walk right to the end of the route, rather than heading to his train station about half a mile from the end. And bless his heart he did. Here is the evidence. The glamourous finish of leg 4 of the Capital Ring:

Meet me here in two weeks?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Part 1 Woolwich to Grove Park

At 10.30 this morning I met my ex-colleague/good friend Lucy and her friend Steve Martin (not that Steve Martin) outside Woolwich Arsenal train/DLR station. Have you ever been to Woolwich Aresnal? No? I wouldn't worry too much about that. We prepared for the day ahead as all good walkers should- with cake. Lucy brought home-made dorset apple cake:

I brought home-made pear and chocolate muffins:

Steve brought one banana but we made him share. And I didn't take a photo of that.

I had printed out maps and bought the book but the route was really well signed all the way round. Here are Steve and Lucy by the very first sign:

The first part of the route is along the Thames. Starting at the Woolwich ferry (one of which is named after Ernest Bevin, whom I have learnt from wikipedia was neither Nye Bevan nor the author of the Bervridge Report but someone else entirely- who knew? Not me). Just before the Thames Barrier you turn off the path and follow the diversion- this is the only place on the route where the signs are bad- the diversion sign was missing the Capital Ring logo so we didn't take it. But as you hit a dead end within 500 meters it's not so bad. The diversion leads to a big road which leads to the first of the lovely parks on the route. Below if you squint you can see the Thames Barrier:

The sunshine was glorious and it almost felt like we were away on holiday somewhere. In loads of the parks you'd never know you were in London. Some were really quiet and just like being out in the countryside. Some were full of people playing football. And some had one of the best examples of a Jacobean building in the capital:

That's Charlton House again, but zoomed in on. I promise next time I'll have a better camera.

On Woolwich Common we stopped for more snacks...

...before carrying on past the delapidated but beautiful Severndroog Castle...

...through more beautiful parks...

...and then stopping to pose at the end of the official first section of the walk (Woolwich to Falconwood).

The second section was much shorter and went past Eltham Palace. It was closed to visitors but the guy on the gate let on on to the bridge to have a closer look. He was lovely, if slightly bemused when we told him about the walk. The photo in no way does the Palace justice. It was stunning. Apparently I should go back when it's open- the interior is all decorated 1930's style and Lucy reliably informed me looks like something a character in True Blood would have. Not that I watch True Blood so maybe I should just appreciate it on its own merits.

We slowed down considerably when we found the horses.

The photo below comprises Lucy, a horse, a field and the London Eye, The Shard, The Gerkin and Carary Warf on the skyline. I love the london skyline so much and this was an amazing way to see it. According to the sign further along you can even see the Wembley arch. I convinved myself I could make it out but that might have been wishful thinking.

W.G. Grace lived here. Now it's a retirement home. I think if I had to choose a retirement home the house of one of the greatest cricketer who ever lived would be a pretty good option. I took this photo for my Dad who is also William Gilbert.

And then we made it to the end. (The beady eyed among you will have noticed that Lucy managed a complete change of clothes along the way- quite a skill)

As we chatted as we walked we discussed what the point of this blog should be- if I should be making a statement about urban sprawl, about the vastly different living conditions of Londoners, about history or nature or culture. I'm not sure that I need to do that. Today was just a beautiful day exploring a different view of a city I love. I chatted with fabulous people and was out in the sunshine and saw so much beauty (natural and man-made) and used my body in the way it should be used and it was fabulous. And I'm excited to carry on from Grove Park in two weeks time. It would be lovely if you wanted to come too.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

First leg!


If anyone would like to join us for the first leg we will be meeting at Woolwich Arsenal DLR station at 10.30 on Saturday. Please email me for more details :-)