Capital Ring: Streatham Common to Richmond

31 Jul

After a couple of weeks break I was back up to London with my friend Chris to continue walking the Capital Ring around London.

The weather was quite a mix today, the morning began with drizzle (we had some much needed rain overnight) but this had stopped by the time we stepped off the train at Streatham Common. Although for most of the morning it was cloudy it was not cold, and after the cloud thinned out a bit in the afternoon it became very warm again.

The first part of the route was not particularly interesting, mainly residential to start with, but a few bits of parkland. Probably the most interesting thing was walking alongside the railway line, not because of being near the railway, but because we were walking through areas that we had previously only seen from the train. One example was the fine looking building below in Streatham which was actually a water pumping station.

Streatham Pumping Station

From Streatham the route took us through Balham to Wandsworth (past the prison), then onto Earlsfield and Wimbledon Park. From Wimbledon Park the path continued on to Wimbledon Common, this marked a change in the route, from mostly residential to more open country.

Wimbledon Common is perhaps best known as the home of the Wombles. As a fan of the Wombles since childhood I was somewhat disappointed not to actually spot any today. There is however a nice windmill on the common which is quite easy to spot, as was the welcome tea shop next door.

Windmill on Wimbledon Common

Wimbledon Common was quite easy walking and much softer underfoot, up until then most of the paths (even those across the parks) had been tarmac or concrete. Crossing a busy road on leaving Wimbledon Common took us into Richmond Park, again a much nicer place to walk.

According to the Royal Parks website, Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London and is home to "around 650 free roaming deer". We didn’t spot any of them but then the park is almost 2500 acres, so they had plenty of space to hide.

For me there were only two things that spoilt Richmond Park. Firstly was the succession of aeroplanes that passed over head, on their approach to Heathrow Airport. The second was the state of the grass, it should have been a nice lush green, but the lack of rainfall in the last few months has really taken it’s toll on the grass. Of course the grass will recover, but I doubt the skies will ever be clear of planes again until we have another volcanic eruption that grounds them all.

Pen Ponds, Richmond Park

Apart from the planes it is the first time I have really felt like I was out in the countryside whilst walking this route, although we have been through some large parks the scale of Richmond Park was quite breathtaking. It is such a lovely place that I will have to put it on my list of places to visit again in the future.

We left Richmond Park by Petersham Gate, but before leaving we treated to some wonderful views out to the west across the Thames Valley, a view dominated by the rugby stadium at Twickenham. From Petersham we took a bus to Richmond where we caught the train back to Clapham Junction. Changing onto another train to head south to Sussex we passed through the area where we started our walk this morning, but seeing it from a slightly different perspective this time.

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