This particular walk is part of the ‘Capital Ring’ and is an exact repeat of the route I did with the ‘Walk London’ people on 31st May. So given the fact that I had done this one less than two months before, had a print out of directions to hand, as well as any number of handily placed ‘Capital Ring’ signs to guide me, I shouldn’t have expected to have too many difficulties – correct ? Okay well this is me we are talking about, but fortunately help was on hand in the form of the lovely Helen, who was able to explain what things such as ‘triangular wooded clearings’ and ‘right fork’ actually meant. If that wasn’t bad enough her knack of smugly spotting route signs at a hundred paces, whilst I was still contemplating the directions and wondering whether I had suddenly caught dyslexia was a tad disconcerting to say the least.
So suffice to say no sooner had I started us off in Wimbledon Park then I immediately lost the plot and actually had to make an unplanned diversion in order to rendevous with the boating lake. However having found a bench for us to scoff our provisions I was quickly able to regroup, and in no time at all I had located the exit from the park.
Next up was Wimbledon Common and the famous Windmill. Things were going well here direction wise, until I insisted I knew what a triangular clearing looked like, and rapidly had to backtrack when it became apparent that I didn’t. However with my guide patiently putting me back on the right road, it was soon time to cross the road (namely the footbridge over the A3) and enter Richmond Park via Robin Hood Gate. By this time the temperature was starting to pick up, and after cutting across the park, and climbing our first gentle gradient alongside Spankers Hill Wood, it was time to sit down and stare at a family who had brought a table, radio cassette, and any number of other modern essentials with them, for their outdoor picnic experience. We eventually moved on passing through the two Pen Ponds and up another gradient (where this picture of Helen was taken).
Our time at Richmond Park was rapidly drawing to a close however, but not before I had actually managed to remember where King Henry VIII’s mound was, and impress Helen (Hmmm ?) with the hole in the bush telescopic view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a mere ten miles distant. So leaving by the Dysart Arms PH exit we crossed Petersham Meadows where I believe Helen commented on the insect noise coming from the grass. However I had long since stopped listening to her by that point as I assumed it was just another one of her sad pleas to be fed again. Yet needs must and I decided I had to do something to jivvy her along, and therefore condescended to buy her a Cornetto and allow her a few minutes break by Richmond Bridge in order to eat it. I know I am too soft, but it was a hot day.
From this point the walk became far less picturesque, and having crossed Twickenham footbridge, we found ourselves being pushed further away from the Thames and out onto the main road’s round Isleworth. After cutting through the unimpressive Syon Park, and negotiating a pedestrian crossing in Brentford, we came down some steps to the very start point of the Grand Union Canal, and had a nice time discussing what would be the most suitable type of barge/riverboat for our needs. However we were only on the Grand Union a short time, before we had to leave the Capital Ring to go and do whatever it does, and climb up onto the Great West Road modernist dystopia, and then get home for some coffee and cake.
A nice day, a nicer walk, and the nicest of company.