Earlier today we received this query from a London Walker via Twitter…
Considering doing section 1 of London's Capital Ring walk, Woolwich to Falconwood. Any advice? @londonwalks— Abby Deveney (@abbydeveney) July 31, 2015
DC Editor Adam writes by way of reply…
Hi Abby, thanks for your Tweet. What's that thing people put on Twitter accounts in an attempt to indemnify themselves from litigation when expressing personal opinions? Ah, yes: all opinions my own. (Same goes for my hair. And most of my teeth.)
Which is by way of saying @walklondon looks after The Capital Ring's official publicity, but here's my twopenn'orth as a fan and as a Londoner…
Any tips for the Woolwich to Falconwood section of the Capital Ring? Simply this: do it.
The long answer is that I'm particularly attached to this section of the walk. It was the first section I completed, having read about it in an abandoned copy of Time Out that I found on a train (and this was back in the dark ages when Time Out was a paid-for title, so it was quite a find!). The article was on the Green Chain section of the Capital Ring in South East London.
It was July 2005 and I'd just left a particularly unhappy and onerous office job and I was casting my net around for a new direction. But what? I did not know. The solution, as always: go for a walk, you'll think of something if you walk. Even if you don't, you'll feel better for the exercise.
As my colleague David Tucker Tweeted the other day:
Solvitur ambulando. Phrase the ancients came up with. Figure it out by walking about. You figure it - London - out by walking about with us.— London Walks (@londonwalks) July 28, 2015
And so I headed to Woolwich.
|The Woolwich Ferry|
The contrasts at the start of this section of the Capital Ring are vivid - the view back over the Thames from Maryon Park looks toward the perpetual motion and clamour of the Silvertown refinery; there's the good old rough-and-ready Woowich Ferry making its lumbering procession like some wondrous watery Sysiphus across the water and back, across and back all day long; and the Docklands looms like Fritz Lang's Metropolis meets the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz.
Turn to face South and there's a bit of Jacobean architecture, a petting zoo, a folly, a palace, a movie location from classic Swinging London movie Blow Up, swathes of blameless suburbia… and green green green. There's a real sense of leaving cacophony behind (which is a healing sensation) yet one is never actually leaving London (a course of action I would always strongly recommend).
So I've got something of a Proustian attachment to this section - it always takes me back to that crossroads.
Perhaps more importantly, as far as general advice goes, now is the time to hit this section because it's best to tackle it at a dry time of year. One of the many great things about the Capital Ring is that it's a different walk every time depending on the time of year. I did this section a couple of years ago in the proverbial bleak midwinter and the wooded sections were pretty boggy. It was messy. And the mud reminded me of the countryside, and the countryside makes me anxious (see earlier advice about NEVER leaving London).
My personal fave bit is Oxleas Wood and Severndroog Castle (pictured above).
Just past Severndroog Castle there's a cafe in the park which is an ideal rest-and-be-thankful. Its precise name eludes me as I blog (I think it might even be as simple the Oxleas Wood Cafe) but suffice to say it's nothing to do with St Arbuck, the patron saint of brown milk and tax dodging. And by that point you'll be ready for a cuppa.
And how did the career crossroads pan out? Well soon after this walk I became a London Walks guide, and soon after that I launched the London Walks blog (the blog that you are reading now) thus combining my triple passions of walking, addressing people at high volume and avoiding all contact with dull commissioning editors and limp-minded publishers. Hoorah! The first section of the Capital Ring, Woolwich to Falconwood was the best walk of my life because it lead to the best jobs of my life.
I hope you have fun on your walk! Send us a pic or two if you like :)
P.S. Just to reiterate, I don't wish to create the impression that London Walks is somehow "in charge" of the Capital Ring – that's @walklondon so it would easy to mix us up! And for any London Walkers and Daily Constitutionalists who haven't the foggiest idea what I'm blogging about, you can find info on The Capital Ring orbital London walking route HERE at TfL's website.
P.S. There are a few more shots from this section of the Capital Ring in this earlier post from The Daily Constitutional.
A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at www.walks.com.