Friday, 8 January 2010

Wimbledon Park to Osterley (via Kew Bridge) – (Surrey/Middlesex) – 08/01/10 – 12 Miles – Myself

Unless you’re a kid with an extended school holiday, the current big freeze is snow joke for anyone. Thus with four days off work, I have found all my plans having to be shelved due to a combination of slippy roads, unreliable trains, and threats of worse weather to come. Sure I know other people are having far worse problems with it. Also I always have work to look forward to next week, and the opportunity to do some more driving on the white stuff. But having said all that it is actually making me depressed okay (so bite me). However given that London Underground seem better at keeping their train set working than the other lot, and with my original plan for the day cancelled anyway, I decided to fight back against the elements and do one of my favourite walks.
So that’s two stages of the Capital Ring again then, and with only one station between home and Wimbledon Park actually underground, I was surprised at what a hassle free journey it was. Once in Wimbledon Park, it was obvious that the young mums and buggies fraternity, were not going to be put off from getting their toddlers to the swings. Fair play to them, but of course Wimbledon Park, and the road section that follows, is merely the necessary evil part of this walk until you get to the real start of proceedings in Wimbledon Common. Also given that this road section was the one bit I had most concerns about, it was something of a relief that I managed to get to Wimbledon Common without going arse over tit. Once in the common though I felt on much surer ground walking wise, with my £25 steel toe cap workboots (which I use for conservation activities) still performing well whilst I dither on about buying a proper pair of walking boots again.

So once past the Windmill I decided that I had already earned myself a tea break at the Windmill Tea Rooms. However seeing as I am making a sterling effort these days to break out of the coffee with chocolate cake (or bar or biscuits) rut, I decided to expand my horizons and have a cherry slice with a hot chocolate drink. Not too bad for £3.70, especially given the hot chocolate was made with milk not water. However given the blue blood clientele they seem to attract here I couldn’t help feeling I was lowering the tone of the place. So hoping I didn’t leave too many crumbs I supped up quickly and got back out into the snow.

Now as daft as it seems I couldn’t help feeling I was somewhat overdressed, given that on my upperbody I was wearing: one vest, one t-shirt, two pullovers, one fleece, and an anorak (not to mention a woolly hat). Therefore to counteract the fact that I was actually sweating buckets, I did periodically take off my gloves. Wimbledon Common naturally looks different in the snow and although I should know this route like the back of my hand by now, there were a few moments when I had to do a double take on which way to go. Another potential slip hazard loomed when it came to crossing the footbridge over the A3 to take one into Richmond Park. However despite that having no grit on it, it did have a handrail to balance oneself on.

Richmond Park was shut to cars, and for a moment I thought pedestrians as well, but once in I made a quick visit to the facilities at Robin Hood Gate. Then it was onto the climb up towards Spankers Hill Wood, whilst keeping it on my right. However given that all the paths were buried under a blanket of white, again it took me a moment to get my bearings. Once at Pen Ponds, it became apparent that they had both frozen up save for one small patch of water, that some ducks and swans were floating about on (see picture). Still perhaps they had the day off school as well as the multitude of kids who were up by Henry VIII’s mound tobagonning down towards the gate by the Dysart Arms. Not wishing to become a new type of accident statistic, I made sure I gave them the widest of berths before leaving the park.

Pushing on through Petersham Meadows, I was very surprised to find the towpath by Richmond Bridge not just gritted in places, but actually lacking any evidence of it having snowed there at all. However as if to restore some sort of equilibrium, this was the moment when large blobs of the white stuff briefly started to come down again, as you can see in my Canadian geese picture.

Once past Twickenham bridge it was back to watching where you were walking on the towpath again. What was worse however was that due to ice (get out of it) they had shut Twickenham footbridge, leaving me stuck on the Surrey side of the river and a longer diversion home via Kew Bridge. Well that was not too much of a problem I suppose, certainly not as much as the idiot who let the largest of his three dogs come barking up to me, and then ram me with his head (once I had quickly put my hands in my pockets). Just what you need when walking on an icy towpath, and even though the guy immediately said sorry, no doubt if I had broke my leg he would have just walked on. Anyway that gripe aside, once I reached Kew Bridge I decided the paths were too slippy and ungritted (is that a word ?) to risk coming back via the Thames and the Grand Union at the back of Brentford, and instead walked the modernist mile along the Great West Road instead.
Walks since last blog entry:

(Run) Walks:
1 x 6 miles – Grand Union Canal / Osterley Park .

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