Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
The Capital Ring
This is an orbital walk that encircles Inner London. It links many of the lesser known parks, commons and woodlands that are surprisingly close to the major sights of this great capital city. The official start and end of the walk is by the foot tunnel at Woolwich on the southern side of the Thames. From there it takes you clockwise around inner London. The total distance is 78 miles.
I first became aware of this walk when spotting a signpost at the beginning of the Thames Path and again at Richmond. As this walk is so easily accessible by public transport (in fact a car would be a hindrance) it is perfect for a non-driver.
In many ways this walk incorporates a perfect walking experience. You'll find tranquillity in the parks and commons, stumble on fantastic views, learn about history as you pass memorials, forgotten palaces and palatial pumping station. You will also never be far away from public conveniences, refreshments and public transport to take you back into central London.
Section 1: Woolwich to Grove Park
Section 2: Grove Park to Crystal Palace
Section 3: Crystal Palace to Wandsworth Common
Section 4: Wandsworth Common to Richmond
Section 5: Richmond to Greenford
Section 6: Greenford to Fryent Country Park
Section 7: Fryent Country Park to East Finchley
Section 8: East Finchley to Hackney Wick
Section 9: Hackney Wick to Woolwich
Verdict: This is a great walk that can be enjoyed all year round but summer can get very hot in the capital. I started walking in winter. The above average wet weather had taken its toll on countryside footpaths and riversides and this route provided a welcome alternative. I enjoyed walking every section - each had their highlights. If I had to choose a favourite, I think I would choose section 4 (Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park) or Section 8 (variety of scenery and communities). I discovered beautiful parks and woodlands, became an expert at spotting parakeets, walked along canals and rivers, indulged in coffee and cakes. The walks were as diverse as the communities I passed through. And, of course, there was always a tube, train or bus station near each walk's start and finish.
- London A-Z (not really needed thanks to the excellent signposting and the precise directions given in the guidebook)
- The Capital Ring by Colin Saunders (published by Aurum Press)
Website: Transport for London (Capital Ring Walk)