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.