Alright, so… It’s been a while! Not that I have a dedicated audience who follows my every step, but I still feel the need to apologise, if not to myself. To be fair, I was away working at a summer school. No summer holidays for us EFL teachers, not unless you don’t need the extra money. And even if I didn’t need the money, I’d still do it. Summer schools are great fun and you meet a lot of interesting people.
Anyway, I’m back in London, back to teaching at a normal school, and still have a lot of free time, which isn’t great. But hey, at least I get to keep exploring this great city. And this year I want to do all those things I wanted to do but just didn’t find the time to do because I’m planning on moving to Japan in a year. So I decided to finally start the Capital Ring.
What’s the Capital Ring, you ask? According to its page on the TFL website, it is a “chance to see some of London’s finest scenery. Divided into 15, easy-to-walk sections, it covers 78 miles (126KM) of open space, nature reserves, Sites of Specific Scientific Interest and more”. Basically, it’s a circular walk going around London’s areas 3 and 4 and it takes you through interesting sights, parks and a lot of woodland paths. As you’ve noticed, it’s incredibly long and it’s been divided into 15 sections. I decided to start with section 3.
So, in the morning I got the train to Grove Park station and followed the instructions given on the website. You’ll find that they’re quite thorough and clear and I was on the look out for the green signs that the website said were everywhere along the path. And I did, quite easily!
I think that the previous walk I talked about here was the Art Walk in East London, which, as you might recall, I was not that pleased with. So when I saw the signs I was super excited! So excited that I abandoned the instructions and decided to enjoy the walk without worrying about directions. Rookie mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, the walk is very well signed, but you do need to look at your instructions as well because sometimes it’s missing a sign or two, or there’s a sign too many. I only realised I was heading the opposite direction when I checked the instructions again, and by then I had already walked for 20 minutes (and then had to walk them back).
After retracing my steps and was finally on the right path, everything went very well. But don’t forget to use both the signs AND the instructions! Although it IS very well signed, it can sometimes be confusing. Also! Another useful thing to do is to check how long the section you’re about to do. This particular section is quite long, and it took me around 5 hours with breaks.
Anyway, the path took me from the station to the Grove Park Nature Reserve, a long area of overgrown plants, through quite a few green paths to Beckenham Park, which was amazing. It’s huge and the track really takes you through what seems to be an overgrown abandoned part of the park, which is what I like to see when I take nature walks. And this path lead all the way to Beckenham Mansion, which sounds better than it was. It was quite interesting though.
By this point I was already exhausted (I’d been walking for around 2 hours!) and of course, it started raining. And we still had a long way to go. So, we unpacked our umbrellas and kept going through the wilderness. The path tooks us through several residential areas, woodland paths and local parks. It was quite nice, saw a lot of big trees and big houses. We took a lot of breaks, especially when the rain would stop for a bit.
It tooks us another 3 hours, give or take, to reach our final destination: Crystal Palace Park. By then, the rain had gotten worse but hey, this is England, rain can’t stop you! And Crystal Palace Park is amazing! It’s huge, well taken care of and full of huge statues of extinct species and, the best part, old dinosaur statues from the 50s! They were spectacular! Couldn’t help myself and had to hum the Jurassic Park theme. I completely recommend going there.
Finished the day by walking a bit more, 20 minutes up a very steep hill to get to a really nice pub called The White Hart. The food there was great and it was a great reward for the 5 hour long walk I had just forced myself through.
Conclusion: if you enjoy trees and parks I completely recommend trying out this walk. Other sections sometimes include monuments and landmarks, check it out on the TFL website. As I said, don’t just follow the signs, use the map provided online as well to help when the path is confusing or just to check if you had to make a left turn somewhere that wasn’t signed – like what happened to me. Don’t let the rain stop you! And don’t go on your own. The path takes you through a lot of residential areas, but sometimes they can be a bit… questionable. Go with a friend, take fun pictures, and enjoy this great city that is London!
Hope you’re all enjoying your weekends, I know the weather is a bit grey, but at least it isn’t raining!
Until next time,