We did, we went for a walk and will continue to do so over the next 11 weeks, because we have decided to follow the Capital Ring Walk. Why you may ask…. well because there is nothing else to do. But for our first walk we went from Woolwich to Falconwood and this is what we discovered…
The Capital Ring Walk can be found on TFL’s website but it’s just reposted from the Inner London section of The Rambler’s association website (Here). you know those old people that walk around the countryside in red socks shouting at farmers accusing them of blocking public rights of way (No? Oh it’s probably just a climber’s thing!) Nevertheless the site shows a route around London, mostly clinging close to the North and South Circular roads. Part one starts at Woolwich Foot Tunnel, you can start anywhere of course, we however decided to start there and head towards Falconwood.
The nearest train station is Woolwich Arsenal and then you have about a 1/2 mile walk to the Thames and then it officially starts there. It’s not the most appealing of starts, we mean the Woolwich Ferry loading dock is all there is to see and the first part of the walk is around a leisure centre, past a building site and a giant roundabout, but soon you get back to the river and the glorious sight of the Tate & Lyle refinery on the other side of the wide section of the river. We walked west towards the Thames Barrier, not a lot to see here, a lot of council houses and old factories, but there are a number of viewing stations along the way, so you can get a good view of the industrial works.
As you approach the barrier, the path is blocked by an industrial estate and one we have frequented a few times in the past, because it’s where the worst coffee in London is available and some really good climbing, (The Reach Wall) the guide seems to imply you head in to the estate and walk along the river, passing a rather sorry old ship. But there is no way out of the estate and so we ended up looping back and exiting the same way we entered – at least if you do this walk you now know, ‘Do Not Go Into The Industrial Estate’ (say it is an eerie voice for dramatic effect).
It’s about this time that Bob started to suffer, not from sore feet or even from the fact that a quarter of a mile is not the same at 8km! No the problem was the lack of caffeine, that memory of the horrendous burnt coffee made her crave some good Java, but there was none to be had as we headed south, past a mass of schools at the exact moment school ended for the day and 500 kids exited Greenwich Trust Secondary.
We continued on into Maryon Park and got a little confused around where Gilbert’s Pit was, it turns out it’s up, up and up then down the big hills and then onwards. Maryon Park becomes Maryon Wilson park and there is a small children’s zoo, basically some deer and a few sheep behind fences as you walk along a rather pretty park, following a creek, until you reach the main road and turn right to head towards Charlton Park, where you are guided to walk around the outside of the park, instead of across the football pitches, given the amount of mud and grass we had already traversed we decided to head straight across the playing field instead and out and to seek out Inigo Jones Rd, named after the 17th Century Architect who was apparently the most famous resident of Charlton Park.
At the end of his road is another nondescript park and on towards Woolwich Common. By now it was close to 5pm and Bob was suffering caffeine withdrawals, the pace slowed and she started trying to bribe the squirrels for a cup of the black stuff, they weren’t having any of it. In fact we have devised the SSS – The Squirrel Sociability Scale and we can safely say the Woolwich Squirrel populace get a zero on the SSS. As you gain the top of the hill, which is actually Shooter’s Hill, you can see Kent to east and Surry to the South, unfortunately mostly blocked by large unsightly tower block.
The next section is along the busy road, to the junction and up to Eltham Common and into the woods, there isn’t really a signpost and the path up is a little steep, but is only 3-400m, at the top you approach Sevendroog Castle, a triangular folly, built to commemorate a commander of the East India Company who fought off pirates that threatened the ships of the EIC and owned the land in the 18th. Bob tried to befriend some parrots – given the squirrels were grumpy, but it seems the parrots are just as unfriendly, seemingly screeching a go away at her offer of monkey nuts!
There was a threat of a tea shop here, but it was after 4pm so of course it was shut, because as you know British People don’t drink Coffee after 4pm!
After the castle there is a great view and steps down, and then the path meanders around and heads back on itself and where we got a bit confused, what looks like a short walk around the remnants of Jackwood House (literally a fireplace of an old house!) and then south again. So we decided to cut out this bit and head straight down, but we will say this ‘Don’t leave the path!’ (eerie voice again!) Because that short section is in fact a loop of about a mile and goes through Oxleas Wood and over Oxleas Meadow to emerge at the end of the Rochester Way and then backtrack to Shephardleas Wood.
We walked through the southern part of Oxleas Wood and realised there is no way out into the meadow, so we backtracked and ended up walking along a residential road and onto the Rochester way and heading through Shepardleas Wood. This whole section needs a better map. We eventually found the Capital Ring Signpost in the middle of the woods only to discover that the route through these woods is just a big loop to give you a view of the distance buildings of Canary Wharf. This is the only section we had a problem with and the only part that the signs are not clear to read.
Finally we headed towards the end of the route and to a weird sensation, the path turns to run parallel to the Rochester Way Relief Way and as it does so you feel a temperature drop of about 10˚, the backdraft of the air pushed up by the vehicles rushing along the motorway on the other side of the fence.
You follow the noisy and cold air for about a mile until a large signpost indicates the next section of the Capital Ring, but we were heading for the train station.
We will back to do part two soon.
Oh and Bob never did get her coffee and she wasn’t happy about it!
There you go, that’s our first walk, come back again for updates and more posts on the Capital Ring Walk!
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