diamond geezer

 Friday, January 28, 2011

  Walk London
[section 2]
  Falconwood to Grove Park (3½ miles)

One of the shortest sections of the Capital Ring, this, with a palatial treat in the middle if you want to lengthen things. It starts somewhere long-lost, which used to be the centre of Eltham Park but is now the Falconwood footbridge. You won't see the railway and A2 dual carriageway beneath the concrete span - they're well screened, and that's just as well [photo]. The southern half of the park is an above-average collection of greenspace and trees [photo], with a view of Severndroog on Shooters Hill in the distance. Less upliftingly, I got stuck behind the Greenwich Council truck emptying the litter bins, and watched as its wheels churned up mud all along the edge of the main footpath.

Next up is the delightfully-named Butterfly Lane (no evidence of flying insects mid-January). This leads to a brief spell of woodland on the edge of a sports ground, and then a most unusual brick structure round the back of some houses [photo]. It's Conduit Head, where springs that fed the fledgling River Shuttle were once diverted to supply water to Eltham Palace. The moat's now filled via the mains, but this half-buried chamber somehow survives. It's also the last interesting spot for a mile. The Capital Ring takes a nanny-ish detour round a mini-roundabout purely to hit a pelican crossing, then climbs to follow North Park which is a lengthy residential street. It'd be a much more direct route to cross the Royal Blackheath Golf Course, which is the oldest golf club in the world, but they don't permit mere ramblers anywhere near their vintage greens.

At the foot of Tilt Yard Approach is southeast London's Tudor jewel - Eltham Palace. The Ring passes right alongside, but not quite over the arched bridge and across the moat [photo]. That was just as well, because the palace is closed in January so the gate was barred shut. I'd have liked to go back inside, because I was completely wowed by this medieval/Art Deco hybrid last time I was here. My muddy boots wouldn't have been a problem either, because English Heritage make you wear protective blue plastic slippers before stepping onto the Courtauld's floors. Doors reopen next week, if you're tempted (and you really should be).

The old path from the palace to the royal hunting grounds still exists, as King John's Walk. All of a sudden it's like being out in the country, ascending a hedge-lined lane past the entrance to some stables. Ignore the horsey folk manoeuvring their 4×4s, and look out instead across the paddocks to your right. There's an unexpectedly view down towards central London, with the skyscrapers of Docklands taking centre stage [photo]. Further back are the City's clustered towers, plus the ascending Shard a standalone figure to the left. Should a huge alien spaceship ever descend and hang over the capital, like they always do in sci-fi films, I reckon these slopes would be the perfect spot for a TV news camera long shot.

King John's Walk is slightly less impressive lower down, evolving first into a housing estate and then a railway footbridge [photo]. The Sidcup Road slices it in two, where walkers can really annoy speeding traffic on the dual carriageway by pressing the pelican and waiting for the screech. Into Mottingham, up one of its nicer avenues where W. G. Grace once lived. His big house has become the Fairmount Retirement home, within which (unless there's a 162-year-old man tucked away in an upper room) no top class cricketers now reside. A confined path alongside Eltham College's sports ground follows, still with crunchy brown leaves underfoot [photo]. And on, and on, until you emerge alongside a sparkling stream. No, I'm lying. It's the River Quaggy in its early stages, scuttling along a deeply kinked concrete channel [photo]. You wouldn't picnic here, but you might chuck a trolley. Admittedly the river looks a little nicer further up but we're not going that way. Ring 2 halts here.

» Capital Ring section 2: official map and directions (see also Green Chain section 6)
» Who else has walked it? Darryl, Tim, Paul, Stephen, Charlotte, Mark, John.
» On to section 3 (or back to section 1)

(and a reminder that Walk London's Winter Wanders Weekend starts tomorrow, with more than 50 free guided walks taking place across the capital. Most are wussy walks around the touristy centre of town, but there are also some challenging muddy treks further out should you desire a challenge. Highly recommended)

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream