When I started this blog last year, one of my aims was to walk the Capital Ring in a bid to discover more about the city in which I grew up and where I still live. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even set foot on the route. Well, this year is all about doing new things, so last Sunday my sister and I decided to make a start. Given that we both live in South London and that it was a beautiful day, we chose to begin with Walk 6 (of 15): 7 miles from Wimbledon Park to Richmond Bridge.
The Capital Ring is signposted above ground with green signs like this one:
The guide book (yes, there’s a book) states that this section is one of the prettiest of all the walks, as it’s more or less entirely through parks and beautiful wide open spaces; it certainly was glorious. Almost immediately you come upon Wimbledon Park Lake:
Wimbledon Park was landscaped in the 18th Century by Capability Brown, and the lake was formed by building a dam across a nearby brook.
Apparently there are nine meres (or lakes) on Wimbledon and Putney Commons. This walk skirts the edge of Wimbledon Common, but quite a lot of it is across Putney Common, and the first mere is Queen’s Mere, created in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee:
There were many muddy paths along the route from Putney to Richmond Park:
At 2.5 miles from side to side and top to bottom, Richmond Park is the largest urban park in Europe:
We entered from the Robin Hood Gate on the eastern edge of the Park, and were greeted with this fantastic view:
Just over the hill we came upon a herd of the deer that the Park is famous for. King Charles I was responsible for the original creation of the Park for the hunting of red and fallow deer in 1625, and in 1637 he even enclosed the land for that sole purpose, a very unpopular decision at the time.
Up next was Pen Ponds, a lake divided in two by a narrow causeway, which was dug in 1746:
Here’s just one of the many breathtaking views across the Park, a wonderful reminder of how green a city London actually is:
We very much liked these gates, installed on the edge of Sidmouth Woods to mark the tercentenary of St Paul’s Cathedral:
There’s a 10-mile protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral all the way from Richmond Park; you can see the Cathedral from King Henry’s Mound. The gates depict oak branches, and there is a wren sitting in the foliage, paying homage to the Cathedral’s architect, Sir Christopher Wren.
On leaving Richmond Park, we walked through the old village of Petersham, which has evidence of human habitation dating from the Mesolithic period (10,000-5,000 BC). Then the route emerges onto the banks of the River Thames at Richmond, and the end is in sight:
It took us about two and a half hours to walk the 7 miles, but that included lots of stops to take pictures, plus a few minutes in Richmond Park where we lost track of the green Capital Ring signposts!
It was a brilliant introduction to the series of walks, and we’re looking forward to Number 7 (Richmond to Osterley Lock) next month.
Visit the Capital Ring website here.
Categories: The Capital Ring