I spent another Saturday walking in London with my friend Chris, completing (almost) another couple of sections of the Capital Ring. This time we picked up from where we left off last week at Richmond Park and headed generally in a northerly direction to end at South Greenford railway station.
There was a definite theme to today’s walk: water. Within about ten minutes of getting off the bus we were beside the River Thames and followed this for a couple of miles. The riverside at Richmond was just starting to wake up, cafes and bars preparing for the day and some activity on the boats on the river.
This was the first time I have been alongside the Thames outside of central London, and it was really quite nice, lots of old buildings and signs of the previous commercial aspects of the river. The picture above is of Richmond Lock, with some quite fantastic ironwork on the bridge crossing the river.
After leaving the river the route cuts across Syon Park, past the rather plain looking Syon House (pictured below). I don’t know what is inside Syon House, but it seemed quite a popular place with all sorts of facilities in the vicinity, although the car park was a bit of a building site. Syon Park (like Richmond Park last week) was spoilt by the constant stream of aeroplanes passing right overhead on the way to Heathrow Airport.
Soon however we were alongside water again, this time the Grand Union Canal at Brentford Lock. This is the first time I have really spent any time walking alongside a canal, and wish we had walked further along the towpath. There are not many canals in Sussex, although many stretches of river were made navigable at various times. We were never far away from traffic noise, modern buildings or housing, but there was a plenty of things to see on and along the canal.
I believe that if we had carried on walking we would have eventually ended up in Birmingham, but we had to leave the towpath at Hanwell (with it’s flight of six locks) and follow the course of the River Brent, still more water! We followed the river for a couple more miles, before arriving at Wharncliffe Viaduct.
I had been looking forward to viewing this masterpiece of railway engineering since I had read it was on our route. It was designed by my hero Isambard Kingdom Brunel and I stood and marvelled at this remarkable example of Brunel’s handiwork. After passing under the viaduct and taking a quick detour into Brent Lodge Park we continued along the side of the river for a few more miles, but interest was beginning to dwindle and the landscape becoming more developed.
This was one of the most enjoyable sections of the Capital Ring so far. I especially enjoyed walking alongside the canal, although the industrial past of the canal system has all but vanished, there are still traces of it’s history on the banks. Perhaps one day (or several days) I will follow the canal all the way to Birmingham.