Our walk today continued GOC London's circuit of the Capital Ring, and picked up where last December's walk had ended. I met with Robin our walk leader at Earslfield station on a sunny if breezy morning. 12 GOC walkers assembled in all and it was heartening to see two new members turn up. at 11 am sharp Robin led us off into a series of quiet side streetsto reach Wimbledon Park. We paused at a viewpoint admiring the park, originally designed by Capability Brown, and its lake. Our walk continued along leafy streets lined with large houses to reach Wimbledon Common.
Wimbledon Common is one of London's largest open areas, at 1.8 square miles / 460 hectares / 1,140 acres. It has the largest area of heathland in Greater London as well as areas of bog and woodland. There are many walking and riding paths across the Common and a year before we had taken a different route across it, starting from Wimbledon itself. We again passed the famous Windmill, and Queens Mere, surrounded by trees. We paused by the impressive First World War memorial for snacks and drinks from our flasks.
The Capital Ring crosses the A3 trunk road via a 'Pegasus crossing' (for horses as well as humans) to safely reach Richmond Park. This former royal deer park is an even larger green space at 3.69 square miles / 955 hectares / 2,360 acres, and is varied in landscape with open grassland, copses and formal gardens. We passed between the twin Pen Ponds to reach Pembroke Lodge Gardens, where we stopped to eat our packed lunches as we had done last year. As we found then, although this point has having great views from the escarpment to the Thames Valley, it is rather exposed. A breezy day, it got rather chilly and our the 30 minutes lunch stop seemed longer. Some of the group used the next door cafe, while others found a more sheltered spot on the other side.
We were therefore eager to gather everyone and set off promptly. Shortly afterwards we passed King Henry's Mound with its framed view of St Paul's Cathedral to the east, and over the Thames Valley to the west. Descending the flank of Richmond Hill we passed close by some impressive stags with full antlers. We made a little detour off the formal Capital Ring to encompass a section of the Thames path. With its views of the river, Petersham Meadows and Richmond Hill, this is always a rewarding route. the sight of Richmond Bridge ahead indicated that our walk was nearly over. Entering Richmond we embarked on a search for a pub, but as it it was a sunny afternoon and the 6 Nations Rugby matches were playing, a lot of the pubs were too crowded. Eventually we followed a sign pointing down an alley to find The Sun, where we were able to find seats and enjoy our celebratory and refreshing pints.
Again I would like to thank Robin for leading a great walk and to my fellow walkers whose good company helped to make it a really enjoyable day.