Capital Ring – Stratford to Cyprus the final section

Stratford panorama
Stratford panorama

Easter holidays a great opportunity to get some mileage in, one problem for me though I had done something to my back and was struggling a bit. I joined a FitBit group at work and the WorkWeek Hustle spurned me to walk to work, but after two days I had a bad back, not sure if the walking caused it, possibly by walking at a faster than usual pace, either way it was painful. Getting from sitting to standing was the problem so I figured walking was better than sitting around the house all day, and got the 07:56, to Euston.

Olympic swimming venue
Olympic swimming venue

I was on the last stretch it was 8.6 miles to Woolwich ferry, which would mean I did slightly further than needed, I had started at Cyprus because it was a convenient place to start near the river crossing. At Euston I opted for Northern then Central line to Stratford. It was almost impossible to get the other side of the railway from the Olympic park all paths under were blocked, I ended up taking a mile and a half detour and even then has to climb three fences.

The route follows the Jubilee Greenway another path I have considered doing, quite short but right in the middle of London, it even goes past Buckingham palace. The section I was seemed to be a disused railway. I found out it was a sewer and every so often you get a whiff of it. I left the Greenway and walled through a housing estate, where I missed a turn but was soon back on track and in Becton Park, where I saw a mistle thrush fly up into a tree, as I walked past I realised it was at the top of the short trunk sitting on a nest.

Victorian pump station seen from the Jubilee Greenway
Victorian pump station seen from the Jubilee Greenway

It wasn’t long before I got to Cyprus station where i had started the Ring, it had been a short walk around 7 miles. I spent the rest of my day wandering along south Bank. I started at Bank and walked down the north side  until millenium bridge. Whilst cross the bridge I spotted someone who was familiar selling the worlds smallest kites, it was Julian McDonnell who has a Youtube channel that I subscribe to, Fun London Guides – Julian McDonnell Films. His video are always interesting showing the more quirky side of London. One video in particular I enjoyed is about his attempt to get to Pitcairn island a very difficult place to get to indeed and quite an adventure, check it out for yourself : Take Me To Pitcairn – Full Documentary  Any way we chatted for a few minutes, he seemed like a nice guy, then I carried on down Southbank and stopped for my first Burrito outside the national Film Theatre.

Cyprus Station DLR
Cyprus Station DLR

From there I headed up through Trafalgar Square where they were reenacting Jesus rising from the dead. I dropped into Foyles but did not purchase any books. Carrying on I walked up Tottenham Court road where it seems all the electronics shops had been replaced by shops i have no interest in, a sad state of affairs. Final I passed by by Euston road and used the back road to the station so I could check out Callumet camera shop, no bargains or whoops moments today though.

Capital Ring – Hendon Central to Pudding Hill Lane

With a work social event the night before I wondered if I would get an early start on the Saturday, but as luck would have it a colleague offered me a lift home soon after 21:00. I was up at 06:00 and made the 07:01 from Berkhamsted with coffee in hand, the journey was relatively short at just over the hour to the starting point, Hendon Central.

At Euston I just had to get the Northern line, but not before having to get let through the barriers, by Tube staff, my ticket validated ok when I got off the train but was not working on the tube barriers, luckily i only had a total of four barriers to pass. Interestingly named tube stations for the journey were Mornington Crescent, Chalk Farm, and Folders Green. One of the things I have gained walking in London is a sense of where things are. I knew the center ok but the outskirts were always a bit of a mystery, but when I hear places talked about I am reminded of places I have walked through or travelled through on my journeys.

Right from the get go I was passing Jewish people on there way to the synagogue with their wide brimmed black hats and shawls, known as Tallit. The housing estate was very neat and tidy with well manicured front gardens and the pavements were lined with cherry trees. Next change of scene was a small brook which i followed for a while getting lost at one point when I missed a sign, but it was fairly trivial to get back on track. I noticed bluebell​s and wild garlic starting to bloom.

Back in a well to do estate I came a cross a Synagogue just at the edge of Hampstead Gardens Suburb, there were no less than three security guards in black suits, dark glasses and ear pieces​. I asked one of them why they were there thinking maybe an important person was coming, but apparently that is what they have to do to counter the threats they get, what a sad state of affairs!

The next housing area was very prim with very tended front gardens the houses were Mock Tudor, all had sharply cut hedges and flowers in the gardens, one had a ornate box hedge covering g the whole of the front. A short footpath lead to East Finchley tube station which you walk through to get to the other side of the line. It is the first public footpath path I have seen as through a station.

Next was Cherry Tree Wood, followed by Highgate Wood of the Corporation of London, then I came across an organic coffee shop in Queens Wood, was a welcome stop, I had an Americano and a really crisp and puffed up chocolate croissant. By this time the sun which had been shining since the start had me in my T-shirt, the skies were blue horizon to horizon.

The Parklands Walk part of a disused railway between Edgware, Highgate, and Finsbury took me all the way to Finsbury park, there were lots of joggers and walkers out enjoying the early warm weather. The path then follows a river in a sweeping curve to West and East reservoir near Woodberry Down. I cam across a nature reserve cafe, Woodberry NR, but the food wait was 45 minutes so I carried on.

Next I spotted what looked like a castle, it was a climbing centre, I’m guessing it was one of those grand Victorian pump station building. On the edge of Stoke Newington i came across a welcome pub called the Brownswood, where I indulged in a mozzarella burger with some chips and an orange juice and soda water to wash​ it down. I lingered for a while recuperating the weather was so nice I guessed a long walk was possible, especially as i was travelling light, I had ditched my DSLR and camera bag for my Linux LX5 on my belt and no rucksack. It made a difference I felt fresher at 10 miles than I usually did.

At Clissold Park seemed everyone one n the neighbourhood were out on the sun. Out the other side of the park I passed through Abney park NR and cemetery, what an interesting place. There were lots of fairly old graves, last century none recent, and the place was completely overgrown. I spotted the grave of William and Catherine Booth the founder and mother of the Salvation Army.

In the next housing area I spotted another synagogue in an area where Jews seemed to live along side Muslims, in apparent harmony, there were not security guards that I could see. The Jews were wearing even more elaborate hats like large cake tins but mass of a hairy fabric, possibly some sort of fur. Apparently called a shtreimel and worn by married believers.

After passing through another park and a short down hill I was a in Lea valley following the river for a few miles. At the ice rink the man on the entrance allowed me in to use the facilities. It was getting warm outside and the coolness inside was very welcomed. The river path got more and more busy as we got to the Olympic park, where West Ham was playing Swansea, it was great to hear the crowds chanting in the stadium. I got the impression that the game started just as I passed by.

I was heading for Pudding Mill station, but a policeman told me they usually shut it on match days, I had to walk to Stratford station instead, which added about a mile to my walk. I was not too please​d. I got on a Jubilee line train to Waterloo, to then get the Northern line to Euston. At London bridge station I checked Google it suggested getting off a and getting the Northern line there, I decided it made a no difference. I should have listened. At Waterloo I just missed the train even tried​ stopping the doors from closing. I then just missed the 16:05 to Berkhamsted, as I arrived it was taken off the departures board. I took the opportunity to grab some food for dinner from Mark’s and Spencer.

It had been a good day out and the sixteen mils had been easier than the week before, my body was getting more accustomed to the walking. I wonder if i can manage 20 miles in a day before the summer is over?

Capital Ring – Boston Manor to Hendon Central

Rubbish on Horseden Hill
Rubbish on Horseden Hill

Keen to get back on the Capital Ring after two weekends off due to a weeks holiday in Kent, I was up early, on the 07:46 Metropolitan train from Amersham, destination Boston Manor. The weather was a bit grey with a chill in the air but the forecasters promised sunny with showers later on. The journey to Boston Manor was a bit tedious as twice i would have to travel up a branch line only to have to reverse to go a couple of stops up another branch. Annoyingly I missed a connection at Harrow-on-the-Hill so waster 12 minutes.

At Rayners Lane I crossed platforms to get the Piccadilly line, interestingly the trains seemed really low, and there was a step down to the train, i guess the trains have to go in smaller tunnels, and the Rayners Lane platform is slightly higher than most, turns out the all the Piccadilly trains are low. I changed again at Acton Town and got on a Heathrow train, full of people and their luggage, it always makes me wonder where they are all flying off to.

Harrow on the Hill high Street
Harrow on the Hill high Street

The path follows the river Brent for a while passing factories and through a couple of golf courses. It all becomes a bit urban at Greenfield where a main road and railway needs to be crossed. I took the opportunity at Westway Cross retail park to grab a coffee which i drank outside in the sun, i also eat a pain au raisin that i had purchased a at Local Sainsbury earlier.

Horseden hill was a hard slog and when I eventually go to the top to enjoy the view it was somewhat spoilt by the rubbish left behind bu some people who had picnicked there. Down the other side of the hill and on the flat I was passing through what was clearly a very old Oak wood, judging by the size of the trees.

Harrow School Building
Harrow School Building

Next up was Harrow when I walked up the high street, which was almost deserted, I guess it was the school holidays. I made the security guard a bit twitchy by stopping to take photographs of the historic buildings. I was quite tired by this time and the walk to the edges of Wembley was a challenge with not much to see.

In a moment of madness I had decided at this point to see if I could do a long day as I had been just making the 10 miles on some of the previous days, target changed from Wembley Park to Hendon Central. I got to Brent Reservoir and had a longish break to build up my strength for the next few miles. It was a pleasant place to stop I could watch the boats in a sailing race whilst enjoying the warm sun.

The Windermere Pub Kenton
The Windermere Pub Kenton

I really had had enough by the time I got to Hendon Central, which was quite familiar as I would sometimes pass down the road when I have occasionally driven into London. Looking at Google maps it the journey bac was going to be a ball ache. I consider a taxi to a Metropolitan tube station but in the end waited for an 83 bus, which took me to Wembley Park, ironic that I had already walked past it.

I had a 30 minute wait for the next Amersham train, I guess I had just missed one. The platform was crowded by families with small children dressed up as princes and princesses it turns out that Disney on Ice was at the Arena. I was glad to get back to Amersham but still had a chore to do get dinner from Waitrose in Chesham.

 

Capital Ring – Wimbledon to Hanwell

I had been looking forward​ to this section, finally I would be onto a more pleasant section, Wimbledon to Hanwelk would involve two trenches of parkland and two stretches next to water. The parklands are Wimbledon Common where i would be on the look out for Wombles, and Richmond Park where i might spot some deer an other wildlife. At Richmond i would be back next to the Thames and then follow the river Brent. All that sounds much more interesting than the walk so far, although it started to improve on the last stretch.

The weather promised to be cloudy but bright and unseasonally warm, potentially 16 degrees. I consulted Google maps, and there was not much between car and train when i took into account total time as Hanwelk is a bit out of the way, and difficult to get to Wimbledon from. I opted for the train as it would allow me to be more flexible.

I had got a cramp as i stretched when i woke up and my calf muscle was sore and torn, i thought it would ruin my day but i reckoned the walking would do it good.

I got a free parking space but just missed the 08:01, but the fast 08:11 was soon whisking me away to Euston. I went wrong at Earle’s court and has to double back as i got the train going down the Richmond rather than Wimbledon branch, but lost less than 10 minutes. At Southfields I then managed to walk a couple of hundred yards in the wrong direction.

It was not long before I got to Wimbledon Common, after passing the car park full of Chelsea tractors I was soon in woods and fields, and immediately spotted a Goldcrest and mistle thrush. The air temperature was high enough for me to walk with just a t-shirt. Eventually I came to a road which is the border between Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park, interestingly it had a separate crossing g for horses riders who were everywhere. The deer in the park were obviously thriving, there were notices about the cull which has just finished.

Richmond Park is distinctly different in terms of habit, I guess the deer have some influence over that. Again there were plenty of Londoners make the most of the open space and weather. The path is straight forward straight then a 45 degree turn which I missed so walked the long way around an enclosed nature reserve. On the far end there is a car park with a coffee shop which I made use of, it was time for a rest.

There is a lovely meadow after you drop down from Richmond park called Petersham I’m guessing it is not built on due to flooding and I bet is has some rare species on it. The other side of the meadow I hit the Thames but on the other side of river from where I had walked the Thames Path. Soon I was in Richmond, near the bridge there was some boat building and repairing going on in the sun. There was a prty atmosphere with alll the Rugby fans gathering outside the pubs for a beer and some lunch before the match later on.

Whilst stood around taking in the atmosphere a guy walked past he looked professional and had a TShirt on with a website http://richardwalkslondon.com/ on investigation Richard McChesney is a serious walker and has plans to set a record for the first non-stop walk around the M25, he reckons it will take 48 hours, and for the whole time is is not allowed to not be on his feet. I would struggle to do 48 hours staying awake let alone havng to stay on my feet and walk.

At Isleworth i had to take another detour when builders had blocked a section of the river path. I joined the river again at a pub called Town Wharf, where i had  a conversation with a local at the bar turns out he has an interesting job, locksmith at the British Museum. I was keen to sit down so had to make my excuses, i hope i did not offend. The jumbo fish finger sandwich went down a treat on the Riverside terrace. I was sat next to a bunch of Scotland supports who thought they were going to beat England at Twickenham!

Eventually you leave the Thames for the Brent, i realised that getting to Hanwell and then getting home for the Rugby would be a challenge so i bailed out at Boston Manor station. Interestingly the first stop was Northfield which was an interesting balance seeing as i started at Southfields. At Leicester Square there was lots of chanting as more Arsenal supporters got on and supporters of another team were on the platform.

I comfortably made the 15:54 from Euston but that would mean missing most of the first half of the rugby. I got the BBC radio app loaded and got most of it when there was a signal.

Capital Ring – Penge to Wimbledon

I fell out of love with the Capital Ring I think because I started it at a time when the days were short, and the first few legs were very urban and not very inspiring. I have been doing some more local outings which made a change. I liked the idea of doing walks with an overall aim or purpose, so I took a look at the map and determined that one more leg and I would be back into a more interesting part which would last for most of the rest of it.

I checked the weather and determined that Saturday was the right day, Sunday promised rain all day. I was up early and aiming for the 08:11 from Berkhamsted. It looked like things were going well, I got the last free parking space at the station, then realised that I would make the 08:01, I got my ticket and had time to get a coffee as the train arrived, I walked out of the coffee shop as the train doors opened.

Three generations of males joined me at the table I had on the train, boy younger than 10, father and grandfather, they were off to Manchester to watch Bournemouth play Manchester United. I commented that Bournemouth did not sound like they belonged in the Premier division, apparently a few years back they had collection buckets going round the stadium to keep the club going.

The start took me up Crystal Palace hill qhuch was the start of a long section high which descended and ascended often. After a particularly steep climb I came Streatham Common where a handy community cafe served me a cortado and a pain au raisin. I rested for a while taking pleasure in watching all the joggers that spring had bought out many of them having to break for bro a walk, probably due to lack of practice over the winter months.

The path crosses quite a few commons some of them divided by roads. I passed through Streatham and Balham before eventually reaching the edge of Wimbledon, where the houses got grandeur. Wimbledon was full of more joggers and appropriately people playing tennis. The weather was reasonable qarmand sunny perfect weather for getting out of the house.

I decided to go to Southfields station to to ensure I had done more than 10 miles, luckily for me there was a chip shop just opposite the tube entrance so I stopped for some and was given a high portion I only managed half of. The journey back was via Victoria and Euston. I was back in Berkhamsted before 16:00.

Capital Ring – Falconwood to Penge East

Early start at Berkhamsted
Early start at Berkhamsted

Late night Boxing Day party I thought would have dampened my enthusiasm before a walk, but I got to bed at a later but reasonable hour, and felt refreshed rather than hung over. A quick breakfast of left over Christmas food, hot cross buns, and a coffee and I was set to get the 08:53 from Berkhamsted. There were lads of free parking spaces, but I managed to miss the 08:46 while I got my ticket, annoying especially as the coffee shop was shut. I had time to spare so headed into Berkhamsted town to see if data could find a coffee shop open. I thought I was out that for luck but then noticed that Love Food Dining was open, they sold take away coffee and dam fine coffee in my opinion.

Eltham Palace water supply
Eltham Palace water supply

The train was packed but I found a seat. It was a frosty start to the day, and quite cold at -1 degrees C, but the weather forecast was a fine day, and with the sun almost as low as it get the photo opportunities were there for the taking. The train was delayed a little bit when we were held waiting for a signal outside Euston.

The transit to Falconwood was via the Victoria line to Victoria then a Southeastern train to my destination. The train was a bit slow and stopped for what seemed like every station, but eventually I got there. I was planning about 10 miles for the day, and was hoping I might get get to a camera shop at Euston on my way home to buy a new lens to replace my mid zoom which had finally packed in after over 10 years of service. I was going to invest in a 16-35mm f4.0 L IS USM.

Extreme Christmas
Extreme Christmas

En route to Waltham I passed through yet another Leafy London Suburb with lovely houses. I passed by Eltham Palace which is run by National Heritage. It was a strange building from the outside, some of it clearly less than 100 years old, but it has a mixture of parts that suggested that there had been some sort of building there for a very long time. It also had a moat.

On the other side of the track things were a bit more run down and I spent a couple of miles waking along paths between by run down housing estates, however I got great views as of Docklands from the slightly elevated path.

Cyclo-cross rider at Beckenham Park
Cyclo-cross rider at Beckenham Park

At Downham high street I looked for a cafe but could not find one that looked worth trying. Eventually I came across a McDonald’s drive thru, so stopped for a filet-o-fish and some chips washed down with a coffee. It is an interesting process these days, rather than talk to someone you use a large, 40 inch touch screen to order and pay then your food is delivered, although I realised once I was tucking in that you could order in the traditional way at the counter.

Things got a bit rural for a while as I passed through Beckenham Park, there was a cyclo cross competition going on, so I paused for a while and took some shots of the action. I carried on and things were pretty urban for the rest of the section with ntil I got to Penge East. As I approached I could see the Crystal Palace aerial beckoning in the distance.

Kent County Cricket Club
Kent County Cricket Club

I had a bit of a wait for the next train to Victoria again a bit busy but it is easy for one person to find a seat. The connections went well and at Euston I had a 30 minute wait for the next train, and with a Calumet (photographic shop) just around the block it seemed rude not to pop in and have a look. As luck would have it they has the lens and in stock and it did not take long to negotiate a better price than those list, I was a few hundred pounds lighter. Probably the most expensive wait for a train I have ever had.

I grabbed the rear most carriage to ensure easy access to the exit at Berkhamsted Station. I had got be another 10 miles of the Capital Ring and has a new lens, which will be taking pictures for this blog in the very near future.

Capital Ring – Cyprus to Falconwood

University of East London
University of East London

Having finished the London Loop I needed a new challenge, I thought I would give the Capital Ring a go. the Ring is a whisker over half the distance of the London Loop at 78 miles which breaks down into 6 or 7 stretches, of reasonable length. It is another route around London but closer to the centre, and I hoped would be a bit more urban than The Loop.

We finished work on Wednesday the 21st so I thought I would get my first section done on my first day off. Trouble is it is a week day so travel would be more expensive. I knew the first off peak train from Berkhamsted was the 09:31 so I aimed for that. I was not too sure of the best option so went to the ticket office, it turns out that my Railcard was only valid on trains after 10:00 so I opted for the £20 one without the Railcard discount. I had to be on a train back before 16:49 which would suit me fine.

John Burns Woolwich ferry
John Burns Woolwich ferry

I had puzzled over where to start, my book and early Xmas present from Helen started at Woolwich and went clockwise, and from experience I knew following book was best done on the same direction. I could however start anywhere on the Ring and just loop back to the beginning of the book as necessary, so I went to bed thinking somewhere north of London would be best given the train restrictions. One final look at the map in the morning and I changed my mind, the route passes close to a DLR station just north of Woolwich ferry so I decided to start there, just a mile from the start of the book, and a chance to use the tunnel, as when I did the Thames Path I had used the ferry.

The train was on time and empty at Berkhamsted, but by the time we got to Euston most seats were taken. The weather was forecast as sunny but there was a most about, which I hoped would make for good photos. The northern line took me to Bank the I got on the DLR to West Ferry then changed to the Becton line for the final leg to Cyprus. I had a front row on the train and with no driver’s cabin you get great views of Docklands as we passed through.

Boat on the Thames
Boat on the Thames

I soon reached Gallions Point, which at first glance looks like it is spelt wrong but when I checked on Wikipedia it all made sense, “Gallions Reach is a stretch of the River Thames between Woolwich and Thamesmead. There are various locations on both sides of the river named after Gallions Reach. The area is named for the Galyons, a 14th-century family who owned property along this stretch of the river.”

At Woolwich ferry I chose the tunnel rather than the ferry which I used when I did the Thames Path, deep and long is as much as I have to say about it. The getting the modern bit wood panelled lift back up to the surface is worth the ride and save some energy. I was still on familiar ground as the path again follows the Thames Path, but after  a mile I took a left through Marion Wilson animal park where in the middle is a very secure couple of fenced areas containing ducks and chickens on one side of the path and deer, with antlers, on the other. I think it was run by Greenwich council for children to experience where children can experience a kind of farm like environment.

Shooters Hill
Shooters Hill

I crossed a busy road BT was soon in another ark this time Charlton Park which contains Charlton hall a grand Elizabethan, I think, building. I came across auch needed WC and a great little cafe where I had a cheese sandwich and a coffee for lunch. 

The next significant milestone was Shooters Hill in Greenwich borough. The path was in the woods but not at all muddy. It was however hilly. I passed a castle then a cafe both at the top of hills. I was glad of the final descent.

At Shepperdleas Woods I had had enough and decided that Falconwood station on the South Eastern Railway line, to Charing Cross, was the place to finish off. I had a two minute wait, for the relatively busy train but I found a seat without any trouble.

I made short shrift if my London transit by getting off at London Bridge and walking to the Northern Line, I got to Euston with 4 minutes to spare for the 16:34, which was well within the time cut off for my off peak ticket. I think I am going to enjoy the Capital Ring.