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Posts Tagged ‘veteran trees’

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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Green Belt and a National Nature Reserve – decaying asylums, veteran trees, Roman history and deer

Chessington to Ashtead, Surrey

Veteran Oak, Ashtead Common

Stag-headed veteran Oak, Ashtead Common. Despite being dead, such trees still provides valuable wildlife habitat, particularly when allowed to remain standing as here

One of my interests for many years has been veteran trees, not just because they make such an amazing habitat for other wildlife (each tree can be an entire ecosystem, involving birds, bats, other plants, invertebrates and saprophytic decay fungi) but also for their incredible size and the sense of awe that results from seeing, exploring and touching an organism that can be several hundred years old. There are many sites in Britain that can boast substantial populations of ‘vets’, many of which I’ve visited (including Richmond Park in Surrey, and Bradgate Park in Leicestershire), but one location that I have never explored is Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve, near Leatherhead in Surrey. I combined a visit to Ashtead with a walk through Green Belt on the very edge of London.

Start: Chessington South Station TQ179633

Finish: Ashtead Station TQ180590

Length: 5½ miles/3-4 hours

How to get there: Chessington South is at the end of a branch line from London Waterloo and is in Travelcard Zone 6. There is a half-hourly service operated by South West Trains, journey time 35 minutes. The return journey is from Ashtead, served by both Southwest Trains services from London Waterloo to Dorking and Guildford, and Southern services from London Victoria to Dorking and Horsham; both journeys back to the centre of London take roughly 40 minutes.

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