THE CAPITAL RING Dee Brockway


Fancy a few days walking in January or February when, but for the real tough guys, mountains are not at their most appealing? For all those nodding, please read on.

Canal tow paths are always a good option. Flat, relatively low level, not exposed and  bursting with our countries history and heritage. Having previously enjoyed walking The Grand Union Canal, Lea Valley Walk and the Kennet and Avon Canal with good friends Jill Green and Jim Catchpole it was decided my husband PhIl would join us to make a foursome and we’d be a little bit different this year.

The Capital Ring is an excellent, way marked 78 mile circular walk around London; always between 5 and 10 miles of the city centre. Colin Saunders book ‘The Capital Ring’ is an essential investment. Public transport options are given for starting/finishing the walk at all 15 sections. Route marked 1:16,666 enlarged Explorer maps cover the whole 78 miles together with a wealth of  information about special features of interest. If you fancy learning even more interesting, historical facts about what you see it may be a good idea to get Jim to tag along…as always he was our walking history book. On our previous winter wanders we had walked ‘ point to point’ carrying all our requirements between our pre booked overnight stays. The beauty of The Capital was we had the option to ‘walk light’. Kings Cross Travelodge lived up to expectations as a well centrally situated, good value place to stay.

Your second suggested purchase, a London Transport Oyster card.

We decided to complete in 5 days, hoping to average about 16 miles a day, although our GPS credited us an average extra 2 daily miles. Meeting at 7.15am allowed for  a hearty Wetherspoons breakfast, then travel and ensured we were walking by 9am each morning. Our schedule included coffee and lunch stops where our choice was of course vast and varied. Garden centres, London park cafes, pubs, garage workers burger bar and the customary packed lunch eaten overlooking the city skyline from different angles.

The places we visited and the people we met and talked to were varied, diverse and too numerous to all be included. A select few.

Richmond Deer Park, which included King Henry’s Mound. The small climb is rewarded by a view of St Paul’s Cathedral 10 miles away. A good free telescope reveals the cathedral, appearing to stand alone, through a special gap in holly hedging and a maintained clear avenue in Sidmouth Wood. It is one of London’s 13 protected vistas.
Abney Park cemetery in Stoke Newington, containing 300,000 graves. Most, like Salvation Army founder William Booth, are ‘friends of’ or religious dissenters and the ground remains unconsecrated. It is an official nature reserve and, whilst controlled, feels quite eerie and abandoned.
Harrow School, founded in 1572, whose former pupils include Winston Church and Lord Byron. We walked past many of its impressive buildings and across the vast playing fields, encountering possible sporting stars of the future.
Fryent Country Park. This was only one of several interesting London parks en route which were previously unknown to me. We stopped for a few moments quiet contemplation at the pond on Barns Hill. Here is a memorial bench to Dave Green, Jill’s late husband, who sadly died whilst leading a ‘Walk for London’ through the park.

These are my chosen 4 locations. Others may rate the 550 yard Woolwich foot tunnel, The Thames Barrier, Eltham Palace Park, Crystal Palace, Tooting or Wandsworth Common, The Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet club, 3 miles Thames Path crossing the river at the half tide Richmond lock and weir, the lesser known Paddington Basin Branch towpath of The Grand Union Canal,  Brent Reservoir, Clissold Park, Walthamstow or Hackney Marshes, The Olympic Park and Stadium, 3miles on The Greenway walking above the huge North Orbital Sewage pipes to Abbey Mills Pumping Station (The temple of Sewage), or Albert Docks and London City airport higher up your personal best list.


My third and final suggestion. Try to talk to as many Londoners as you can on your walk. Without exception, we found everyone friendly, extremely interested in the walk (always wondered what those Big Ben posts were) and happy to reveal a little about their very different, diverse lives and neighbourhoods.

I hope this has persuaded some readers to discover The Capital Ring Walk in a manner that best  suits you……and once you are finished you may find; like me, The 125 mile LOOP, London Outer Orbital Path now beckons.

Crystal Palace
Dave Green's memorial bench
Fun on a London double decker
Abbey Mills Pumping Station, Cathedral of Sewage
Entrance to Woolwich Foot Tunnel
Here Jill goes round The Mulberry Bush
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