Sunday, 1 June 2008

Kingston to Hatton X – (Surrey) – 01/06/08 – 8.5 miles – Walk London.

This being the second day of Walk London’s – Spring into Summer series of walks. Whereas yesterday’s walk was part of the Capital Ring, this one was a section of the 150 mile London Loop.

A small group of 9 walkers (including the two leaders) met at Kingston Station, at 10.00am on a muggy and overcast morning. Our first objective was Bushey Park (which turned out to be a lot bigger than I thought), and which like yesterday featured some very young deer (in my picture taking a swim). There was also the very attractive and manicured Waterhouse Woodland Gardens to please the eye.

The next highlight of sorts was crossing Fulwell Golf Course, and shortly after we found ourselves in Whitton’s Crane Park. The discovery here was a very tall listed building known as the Shot Tower (pictured). At one time this was a centre of the gunpowder industry employing some 320 people, with its products being shipped down river along the River Crane. It finally closed in 1926, but not before having some 50 + accidents (some being heard in East London, and another apparently blowing out every window in Twickenham). The sole member of staff opened it up early so that we could climb the 87 steps to the top (only to have the view blocked by the leafy canopy), and also let us browse around the museum section at the base.
Then it was onto Hounslow Heath which turned out to be a lot bigger than I assumed it was (seeing as I am fairly local). However it is also fairly non-descript, and somewhere you could easily find yourself getting lost. We then picked up the River Crane again, coming off briefly for a drink in a not too friendly local pub, before picking up the same river on the way to the Hatton X finish. On this last bit we came across some large mounds of earth designed to shield from gunpowder blasts at a site where the (Shot Tower’s) gunpowder was stored and dried.

All of the above described made for an interesting and physically undemanding walk. What does spoil this particular section of the London Loop however is the sheer amount of time one has to spend walking on main roads connecting the better and greener parts. Thus for those parts one could not help feeling a bit of a wally in rucksack and boots, effectively walking along the pavement. Also unlike yesterdays Capital Ring, the signage here was virtually non-existent, and to be frank there are parts of this walk I would not feel safe walking alone (and we did pass one or two unsavoury characters). That said Walk London (and those who fund them) have to be applauded for the amount of work, literature and walk leaders they are putting into opening up hidden parts of London, and for the weekend in general. For more information about this and all their walks click

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