Sunday, March 31, 2019

Woolwich to Grove Park

Remember how I said I was going to start walking the Capital Ring, a 78-mile circular path around the city? Well, I began yesterday!

You may remember that I finished walking a much longer circuit, the London Outer Orbital Path or LOOP Walk, late last spring. That walk sits roughly at the outer boundaries of London's boroughs. The Capital Ring, on the other hand, is more urban, and divided into 15 segments. I did two of them yesterday, from Woolwich on the Thames in southeast London to the residential neighborhood of Grove Park -- about 11 miles.

The walk started along the Thames, where I found this degraded but still interesting mosaic (above) on the riverfront path.

The walk took me right past my friend Sally's front door, in Charlton. So I brought along a houseplant I've been meaning to give her -- a rooted cutting from my purple heart plant. Carrying it was a major pain but fortunately Sally's house was close to the walk's starting point, so I dropped it off early on. (Not before showing it the Thames!)

I grabbed a coffee and a piece of banana bread at a cafe in Charlton Park, where tons of people were out playing football. I passed Charlton House, built in 1612 and "one of the best examples of Jacobean architecture left in London," according to my map.

Along the route I saw lots of these tiny blue flowers -- I believe they're speedwell. I also saw bluebells, wood anemone and lots of other blossoms. It was smart to begin walking in spring!

In Castle Wood, part of Oxleas Woodlands, I passed Severndroog Castle, a weird triangular structure built to honor the land's prior owner, Commodore Sir William James. James worked for the British East India Company, and the castle was built by his widow after he died in 1784.

I didn't go inside, but there's a little cafe at the base.

I also passed Eltham Palace, where I went with Sally years ago, but it's not open on Saturdays so I couldn't actually visit.

More impressive blossoms!

The Oxleas Wood was full of chattering, screeching parakeets. They're beautiful but they sure make a racket.

I passed this cat, lying on a log sharpening its claws. It looks like it's restrained, but I think it's actually just lying inside that loop of twine. It was a very weird scenario. Cats are weird.

And speaking of weird -- isn't "Five Witches" a great name for a house?

By the time I got to Grove Park my feet were pretty sore -- I'm out of practice at walking such distances! The Capital Ring seems busier than the LOOP. I was often all alone on the LOOP but I was seldom alone on the Ring yesterday, with other walkers usually visible either in front of or behind me. It will be interesting to see whether that phenomenon holds true for the entire route.


  1. I see buildings like Severndroog Castle and I'm always curious about the architecture and the story behind the design and construction.

    The cat on the branch is priceless. Cats aren't weird - we just think they are - cats are just living their cat lives.

    Maybe there are more walkers on this loop because it is more urban.
    I'm looking forward to this walk; there's nothing like an armchair walk. You do all the hard yards and your readers reap the benefit.

  2. I noticed the carrier bag that held the houseplant. Should you ever decide to become a murderer, perhaps the tabloid newspapers would give you the same label - The Hampstead Butcher!

  3. I know I am just going to love all further descriptions of this walk - and the pictures! I am sure it will be busier if it is closer to London. But that will be part of the charm - not just buildings, trees and animals but people as well! However, I recognise that there are restrictions on photographs you can take of people without their permission. Perhaps you could try portrait photography, with the participants' permission?

  4. I love it when you go out exploring and take us along with you. Fantastic set of photos. That tree is pretty spectacular. And, that triangular castle is most interesting.
    P.S. I bet that cat was thinking the same thing about humans as you stood there taking its picture.

  5. Oh, Steve! I'm so excited to go on this new walk with you! Love the photos so far.
    Cats are weird but I love their weirdness.

  6. I think it's weird that people name their houses. when I spent that 10 days in Scotland several years ago I stayed with a couple who live in the Rose Cottage in the small village of Lybster. No street address. if I wanted to send them mail I would just address it to them at the Rose Cottage. and so many castles in the UK.

  7. It looks like there are many good opportunities for photographs.

  8. That picture of the cat...heart be still. I have a theory that cats live in a universe that is just like ours and, in fact, intersects our universe, but the cat universe is two to four seconds ahead of the one we live in. That's how they know, mere split seconds before you do, that you'll want to walk through a certain doorway, so they can arrive at that same doorway in the nick of time to trip you. They also know when you are just about to get up from the couch, because that's when they decided to jump on your lap and start purring, holding you captive for another ten or fifteen minutes.

  9. Looks like an interesting new walk to take. I'm glad to be vicariously taking it with you. Lovely views and photographs.

  10. Beautiful walk! That would appear to be an Indian Ringneck Parakeet. They've escaped captivity in many countries and have adapted well to being feral urban birds. Quaker Parakeets have done so as well. They're more of a nuisance because of the size of their nests. I am looking forward to your future walking.

  11. I hope the plant was properly appreciative about seeing the Thames - lol

    Looks like you had a beautiful walk. It's nice to see all the blooms and blossoms there. We are still a few weeks away from the first sightings of such things here. I like that mosiac map.

  12. Great news and great stuff in general, I so enjoyed your LOOP writings last year!

  13. That's an Indian Ringneck Parakeet. We owned one for about 5 minutes once--talk about ear piercing shrieks! They also do not tame easily if at all and will bite the piss out of you if you're not careful.

    Cats ARE weird.

    I love all the blooms you're seeing!

  14. That cat was thinking, "Pale fur-less humans from Florida in London aiming those little boxes at cats and flowers and buildings are WEIRD!"

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the walk.

  15. Cats are weird??? People are far more so... Beautiful walk. IFive witches may refer to the residents rather than the residence.

  16. I think you must know London and its environs better than most London born people ever do! Thanks for taking us along!