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Posts Tagged ‘thames’

A great walk through the best green space any city has to offer.

Capital Ring, Section 6 (sort of), Wimbledon to Richmond

Red Deer, Richmond Park

Red Deer, Richmond Park

I have written before about the ongoing attempt some friends and I have been making to walk the Capital Ring in its entirety and in order. But enthusiasm seems to have waned, and, to be honest, having looked at the map, some sections  – where the Ring largely follows uninspiring suburban streets – don’t seem to be worth the effort, so the idea of completion may now have gone out of the window. But one stage that simply cannot be ignored is that which begins in Wimbledon, crossing Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park to end by the Thames in Richmond. Parts of the route are as near to wilderness as you can get in a major city, matching the most attractive rural landscape for beauty. And for me, there is the added bonus of nostalgia as the route passes through places I played as a child, and somewhere I once worked in what might be the best job I ever had.

Start: Wimbledon Station TQ248707

Finish: Richmond Station TQ180751

Length: 8½ miles/5 hours

How to get there: Strictly speaking, this section of the Ring begins at Wimbledon Park tube station, on the District Line, but because it was a more convenient place to meet, we began at Wimbledon. Numerous buses, South West Trains services from Waterloo, the Tube, and Tramlink from Croydon make it a very easy place to reach. Returning from Richmond is just as easy: train (to Clapham Junction & Waterloo, or to north London and Stratford), bus or tube once more.

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A (mostly) riverside walk through beautiful landscape, passing historic towns and villages

Marlow to Henley-on-Thames

Hambleden Lock

Hambleden Lock

Typical. Glorious sunshine and bright blue skies all week while I’m at work, then when I finally get some time off, I awake to a grey, overcast, dismal day. Ah well, never mind. A relatively easy walk this, mostly on level ground along the towpath on one bank of the Thames or the other, following a section of the 184-mile long Thames Path National Trail. The Trail begins at the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds near Cirencester and passes through some of England’s most attractive countryside, unspoilt villages and historic towns, through the heart of London to the Thames Barrier near Greenwich. I only walked a 10 mile stretch on this walk, but it was certainly representative, including stunning riverside scenery and some fascinating historic buildings. Much of the Thames Trail is accessible by public transport; I’m sure I will be back for more.

Start: Marlow Station SU855865

Finish: Henley-on-Thames Station SU763822

Length: 10 miles/4 hours

How to get there: Both start and finish are termini of branch lines off the Great Western main line between London Paddington and Reading. A small number of First Great Western services run direct from London, but by and large a change of train is required: at Maidenhead for the Marlow branch, and at Twyford for the Henley branch. Even so, the journey to/from Paddington is only about a hour or so.

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Open marshland and riverside walking in south-east London along the courses of not 1, not 2 but 3 rivers*

*comes with free scrapyards

London Loop Stage 1: Erith to Bexley

Looking eastwards along the Thames at the mouth of the Darent

Looking eastwards along the Thames at the mouth of the Darent; in the distance, the towers of the Dartford Crossing

About 18 months ago, I joined a group of friends on a walk from Bexley to Petts Wood, following the River Cray in the south-east London suburbs; at the time I was vaguely aware that this was part of a route that circumnavigates the capital. In this way, what began as a pleasant Sunday afternoon walk has now evolved, as detailed previously, into an attempt to complete the entire London Loop in a clockwise direction, of which about a third is now complete. But for the challenge to be fully met, I needed to head back to the start of the Loop and fill in some gaps. Thus it was that I took advantage of a sunny yet cold wintery day and headed for the south bank of the Thames in north Kent to walk the very first stage from Erith to Bexley. One adjective to describe this stage: industrial. Much of it concerned with dealing with the crap that people throw away. Even some parts of the route that felt ‘wild’ could not evade the detritus of modern man, ever-present either visibly or lurking beneath the surface. To be fair though, the route also includes attractive stretches following the courses of 3 separate rivers, in wide-open marshland and along backwaters, through parks and woodland. But, as I’ve mentioned before, that’s part of the attraction of the Loop: it’s London in its entirety, warts and all.

Start: Erith Station TQ511781

Finish: Bexley Station TQ493734

Length: 8½ miles/4 hours

How to get there: Both start and finish are in Travelcard Zone 6 and are on routes served by Southeastern, about half an hour from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or London Bridge.

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More from the London Loop, this time following a tributary of the Thames from source to mouth through deceptively rural surroundings to the place of coronation of Saxon Kings

London Loop, Stage 8: Ewell to Kingston-upon-Thames

Following the Hogsmill near Berrylands

Following the Hogsmill near Berrylands

Following hot on the heels of Stages 6 & 7, is Stage 8, completed a few weeks later. Just 3 of us on this walk, many of our usual group having presumably been cured of their OCD (or the opposite in one case, deciding to start the whole thing again next year having a missed a couple of stages. Why, Andy, why?!). This is a greener stage than the previous two, largely following the Hogsmill along its length from Ewell to Kingston, yet still has stretches that involve unavoidable street walking.

Start: Ewell West Station TQ214627

Finish: Kingston Station TQ182695

Length: 7½ miles/3 hours

How to get there: Both stations can be reached quite quickly (30 minutes either way) and frequently from the centre of London by travelling from London Waterloo with Southwest Trains.

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