Orinoco flow *

(* I accept no responsibility for this title. But see that River there, it’s called The Wandle. The Wandle flows through Wimbledon (well, Earlsfield) and Orinoco is a Womble…¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

On our way to our next starting point, we asked each other ‘Have you read what Diamond Geezer has to say about this section?’ Turns out neither of us had and if we had have done, it might have put us off. We whole-heartedly agree – all filler (no killer). Glad to have ticked it off because it’s one of the longish ones and equally glad we didn’t waste a really sunny day doing it. 2 sections down, 13 to go……

We started this section with a 1/2 pint (a bit off-piste though I wasn’t informed this ’til we’d begun the route proper – we’re making the most of more ‘spoons being south and east. Apparently)

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20180311_120803.jpgThis walk was a bit of a boring one, starting at the edge of railway at Streatham Common and pretty soon we’re darting underneath it through a tunnel. It was very residential, with houses in every state of repair – there was a pretty impressive waterworks which warranted a few photos but other than that, it was a bit of a trudge to Balham. Across Tooting Common, neatly avoiding the lido, encountering more Sunday league footie, this one was quite energetic, a whole host of supporters and some chants of olé, olé, olé.

Again, we made a bit of a detour in Balham to visit the ‘spoons and catch up with a friend. Balham’s alright, definitely posher than anywhere we’ve visited on this walk so far, as evidenced, sartorially, in the sea of red chinos that surrounded us. We walked past this Art Deco beauty, it’s a bit famous apparently. But I’m a fan of anywhere that looks as though it should appear in an episode of Poirot. The tube station is a beaut, inside at least – lots of lovely green tiles.

20180311_154649.jpgAfter a pint (or two), we set off again – wandering across Wandsworth Common, some nice pubs and nice houses but not so interesting. Once you’ve seen half a dozen Farrow and Ball’d doors they all merge into one. Wandsworth Prison does break this up a bit and then there’s the Wandsworth Cemetery, which is not an official part of the walk but you can dip in there and walk parallel to Magdalen Road for a few hundred metres.

We then hit Earlsfield, there’s a couple of pubs and some shops. That’s all really. We’d hoped to grab a congratulatory spot of dinner at the end of this section but no dice. Had we been searching for a wedding dress, Wimbledon Park may have been our saviour but alas, no. So onto the District line for a couple of stops and we hit Parsons Green for some pizza.

All in all, bit of a disappointing one. But at least it’s another section down. The days are getting longer now so can start looking at the longer walks. Or not. Let’s see how energetic we’re feeling next time….

Vital Statistics

How to keep our trainers clean

Inspired by the relative ease of our first walk (we certainly felt that we had more in the tank) I think it’s time to step* it up and try something a little more challenging. Between us south London is relatively unknown and so my criteria are:

  • Longer than 4 miles, less than 6 miles (I want to leave the longer walks for longer days)
  • South of the river

It’s almost as if I’ve fixed it that the winner shall be Streatham Common to Wimbledon Park!

Main pro: proper paths – the weather’s not been great

Main con: proper paths – it’s looking pretty suburban and residential

Spoons-wise there’s the Holland Tringham near the start in Streatham. What better way to begin than with a pint? And we’ll certainly be looking out for the work shy bar staff there (thanks Ben Thompson!). While there’s not a convenient Spoon at the end we’ll content ourselves with a mid-point stop in Balham at the Moon Under Water where I’ll be happy to provide Kris Barnes with another dishevelled punter to sneer at. Chill out Kris! What do you expect?!

* do you actually see what I’ve done there?

Avoiding Sir Steve Redgrave

Here it is, our walk premiere – are you excited? We’re excited.

First of all, although we want each section of the walk to include a visit to a Wetherspoons (we’ll let you know which ones) but for various reasons we won’t be giving you an account of our visits. There’s others though who do it so much better and all we’re really looking for is two pints of tasty beer for as close to a fiver as possible.

Our first section of the walk, as mentioned in our last post, began at Section 15. From the description, we believed that this would be a bit of a post-industrial nightmare; not much to see beyond half finished flats and London City Airport but we set off with great anticipation (and our thermals. And a packed lunch) on a brisk Sunday morning, our Capital Ring adventure was beginning!

From way out west, it was a trek to get to the starting point of this walk but the central line and two DLR trains got us to Royal Albert – mere metres from the starting point. One thing to note is that the walk is very well signposted – we’d toyed with the idea of doing one section back to front but worried that we wouldn’t be able to navigate effectively but having done this section, we’ve now got a bit more faith.

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In fairness, the beginning of the walk isn’t that interesting – past some Sunday league footie and through housing estates but when you get to Cyprus station and enter UEL campus, there’s a totally different vista – you walk across quite an exciting looking bridge and you’re hit with the docks and look to your left and there’s the city; cranes everywhere but undeniably London and to your right, UEL accomodation; multicoloured circular blocks – they certainly beat my ‘based-on-a-swedish-womens-prison’ halls in Sheffield but glad to see that piling your empties up in windows is still a student staple, wherever you go. We had chosen a very good day for it and not sure it’ll have the same punch on a grey day but this stage of the walk made it for me.

At this point there’s a decision to make. Do we play it safe and take the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge (accessible route) or live life on the edge, take our lives in our hands and take the detour via the locks….?

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Walking alongside the Thames for the next section of the walk, we noticed a group of about 7 students ( well, we assume . They were young, ok?) – looking up at the signposts, deciding which way to go by consensus and doing their own capital ring trek. We were hopeful of engaging them but soon after they mysteriously disappeared….quite fittingly given the bleakness of the section ahead. It was great if you like half-finished flat complexes, navigation masts and abandoned diggers. We arrived at the Thames, walking in single file alongside the river, for the most part alone – it was most definitely London but it was desolate and wild; not the London we’ve come to know. Soon the path widened and we reached a lock (stick that Sir Steve). There were boats! People! Ducks! And ‘planes. Lots of them.

Then single file again, on a grassy/muddy path shaded by trees – this wasn’t my favourite bit of the walk and made me glad to doing this as a pair. The walk then gets a bit more unwieldy, stone steps, another lock ( just don’t look down) and it’s all a bit narrow. But20180225_125351-1.jpg then you’re across the lock and at another apartment complex. Admittedly, the balconies looking out across the river (to Woolwich) made me a bit envious. But there seemed to be nothing else around, just loads of flats. There was a kid having a kick-about and we encountered a dog-walker but it was eerily quiet for somewhere which appeared to be so densely populated. But the sun was out, there were benches and so we braved the wind and ate our packed lunch.

 

With lunch taken care of it wasn’t far to the official end of the walk. It’s all along the river, the sun’s out and Woolwich is looking pretty fine across the water.

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At this point were within striking distance of our objective! With the sun glinting on the 20180225_134631.jpgwater we’re walking through Royal Victoria Gardens and towards the northern entrance to the Woolwich foot tunnel. Amazingly, for the more sequentially-minded walker who’s on their final leg, TFL contradicts itself at this point, “to complete the Capital Ring without crossing the River Thames, follow Albert Road and Pier Road round to King George V DLR station”. One cannot complete the ring without, well, completing the ring!

Bearing in mind that while our section 15 adventure is done but our ‘Spoons objective lies to the south in Woolwich we opt to cross the river using the tunnel (we could have picked the ferry instead). It’s pretty quiet down there but worth the effort.

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On the other side we get a sneak preview of what we’ll face when we attempt section 1. In contrast to the sometimes eery quiet of the north side Woolwich has more of the air of 20180226_121800.jpga somewhat rundown seaside town. We walk 10 minutes through the shopping area to the final prize, The Great Harry where we’re surprised to be greeted by an enthusiastic Berlin-style bear (apparently the Borough of Greenwich is twinned with Reinickendorf in Berlin, who knew?).

While we’re getting into our first pint we see that by some amazing coincidence @Steve2cv (one of our main inspirations for this endeavour in the first place) is also about to complete section 15. We meet up and you can read his blog here.

Finally, Big Bender fans take note, there’s a Wimpy right opposite!

Vital Statistics

  • Steps Taken: 10746
  • Picnic: falafel wraps, crisps, fudge, water (tap)
  • Wetherspoons: The Great Harry
  • Drink of choice: Punk IPA £3.79

 

I love it when a plan comes together

I’m sure you can immediately suss out the differences between me and my intrepid exploring companion. He quotes Lao Tzu, a wise, philosophical dude and I quote Hannibal from the A-team. Also, erm, a dude.

I will also take credit for all of the planning mentioned in the post below when in fact, I think my contribution was a muttered ‘yeah, that sounds cool…will I need walking boots or can I just wear my trainers?’

Walks I have enjoyed in the past usually featured one or more of the following; i) short in length, ii) flat, iii)include pint and/or food. See I’m not so demanding. Whilst being inherently lazy, I do like to be outdoors, to explore places I’ve never been before and being a relative newcomer to London, I have a long list of places I want to see and visit. I was persuaded that through the CRW, we could capture some of these things, get a bit fitter and have a bit of a stroll too (Dinosaurs at Crystal Palace, I’m looking at you). Also, there’s a certificate which you can download when you’ve completed all sections. I do love a certificate.

And so, it’s now on me to choose the first stage in our odyssey. This being our first outing, I don’t want to go in too hard with the 8.5 miler (again, Dinosaurs at Crystal Palace, I’m looking at you) so looked at the shorter walks – there’s 4 sections that are 4 miles long so enough to choose from. The section guides from TfL are really clear, talk about points of interest along the way and give some fast, fun(?!) facts about the areas you’ll be walking through so you’ll be pub quiz ready too.

Forever contrary, I’ve decided that we’ll start the walk in its final section, Section 15 – Beckton District Park to Woolwich Foot Tunnel. The fact that it’s potentially the easiest did not influence my decision. Nope. No way. There’s a close-by pub at the end of the walk (not en-route as was our original thinking), there’s the option of using the Woolwich Ferry and we could DLR-it on the way home – not that I’m easily pleased in the slightest.

Getting a plan together

It was Lao Tzu who once said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. The outcome of preliminary research indicates that the same is also true of a journey of 78 miles.

The London Capital Ring Walk takes in many and varied locations that are seldom visited by the jobbing tourist. It looks like thirsty work too. We’ll need to understand a bit more before packing that Thermos, pulling on our flip flops and taking our first circuitous route to a Wetherspoons.

Where exactly is the ring? How to break it into realistic chunks? Is there a ‘Spoons for every occasion? Read on…

Research

There are three inputs into the plan

  1. TFL’s essential guide to the Capital Ring Walk
  2. This Google Map of the Capital Ring Walk*
  3. A list of every Wetherspoons pub

With these raw materials a plan can be hatched.

Planning artefacts

Using this information we created our own map

And we created a handy spreadsheet to help figure out an order in which to tackle the 15 sections

Note that this sheet remains work in progress as the adventure unfolds.

The early thinking is to start with a short section with a ‘Spoons en route so we don’t have to wait right until the end for a pint. It’s what Lao Tzu would have wanted.

 

 

* We didn’t create this original map but we used it to created the combined one you see above. We can’t tell who created this map in the first place but we’d like to thank and credit whoever did!