Capital Ring: Woolwich to Grove Park

26 Jun

Today’s walk was a complete change from our usual walking territory, instead of heading out to Kent to continue walking the North Downs Way, my friend Chris and I headed for London to start walking the Capital Ring.

The intention had been to complete the North Downs Way before starting the Capital Ring, but the next stage of the North Downs Way was a problem to get to because of engineering work on the railway. So we decided that we would make a start on the Capital Ring.

As the name suggests the Capital Ring is a circular path that winds it’s way around the city of London. The total distance is 78 miles, so not that long, and being mostly in the outskirts of London the transport connections are very good. I can’t claim any real genealogical connections with the walk, most of my London ancestors were from the very centre of London and the walk is some way out of the centre.

Today we completed the first two sections of the walk:

  1. Woolwich to Falconwood (7.1 miles)
  2. Falconwood to Grove Park (4.1 miles)

Most of the route is unfamiliar to both Chris and I, although many of the place names are familiar we have never had any reason to visit them before now. The walk begins on the banks of the River Thames, by the southern entrance of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel and heads west along the side of the river, before heading southwards.

Smile, it's Tate and Lyle

Confession time here: I was too carried away walking along the side of the river, enjoying the view and the sunshine to notice the signpost telling us we had to turn left away from the river, so we had to back track a couple of hundred metres when I noticed the mistake (when the path stopped abruptly).

Generally though the signposts were very good, there was really only one occasion when I had to consult the map, when the signposts conflicted each other (someone had obviously been interfering with one of them).

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on this walk, being London I expected a large amount of built up areas, and there was a fair amount, but there was also a considerable amount of countryside and parkland, although we were never that far away from roads and people.

The route did take us past (or near) several landmarks such as the Thames Barrier, Charlton House, Severndroog Castle (pictured below) and Eltham Palace.

Severndroog Castle

The views from Severndroog Castle would have been quite spectacular if it weren’t for the haze, likewise on the path just after Eltham Palace, there was quite a panorama. It was a real delight to see so many famous landmarks of London (like the Gherkin, London Eye and Canary Wharf Tower) from such a distance and in the same skyline together.

Rose garden at the foot of Severndroog Castle

I have already said that the signposts were pretty good, and generally the route was very easy walking, there were really only two steep climbs, one with several flights of steps. There was a lot more pavement than I am used to, and most of the sections were quite short, meaning that we were often changing direction, rather than walking for several miles in the same direction along the ridge of the hills.

Hopefully next time we head out for a walk it will be back to the North Downs Way, but I shall look forward to walking the rest of the Capital Ring, although it is not particularly challenging it is a good excuse to see parts of London we wouldn’t otherwise, and hopefully will increase my knowledge of the geography of London, which will hopefully benefit my genealogy at some stage in the future.

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