Sunday, 29 January 2017

capital ring 3

     Another good day for a walk as we picked up where we left off.  Our third walk turned out to be through spectacular woods, commons and hills, part of the Green Chain of footpaths of south-east London that the Capital Ring joins for a while. 
     The first mile or so from Albert Dock turned out to be rather dreary, through dispiriting housing estates and one of the Thames's less interesting reaches, dominated by the Tate and Lyle sugar factory.  However the weather was promising with brilliant cloud effects, and we soon turned off busy roads into the first of a series of parks.  Maryon and Maryon Wilson parks are fairly wild with heavily wooded valleys, leading to the more open Charlton Park.  These were all once part of the estate of Charlton House, a beautiful Jacobean manor house now carefully restored, probably the finest within the bounds of London.  Rising all the time, the open spaces continue: via a small park we accessed the wide expanse of Woolwich Common, with big open views back to the river.  This area was all a major military area at one time, home of the Royal Artillery and the famous Arsenal.   The common served as army training grounds. 
     From there, up again, to Shooters Hill and the first of a series of woods, remnants of ancient forest that once covered these steep slopes.  The main road to Canterbury and Dover has passed through here since Roman times, and this area was frequented by highwaymen once upon a time.  In the middle we came upon Severndroog Castle - really just a Gothick folly, a memorial to an 18th century East India Company man, whose house once stood below it, with a tremendous view to the south and the Downs.  We continued through Oxleas Wood then into a clearing where there is a very welcome cafe very popular with dogwalkers.  The final couple of miles took us down into Shepherdleas Woods and Eltham Park, as the sky started to fill with a glorious golden late afternoon glow.  This otherwise beautiful park, again heavily wooded, is bisected by an extremely noisy arterial road, the A2 from Dover, which I've travelled along many times without realising what lies either side of it.  We circumnavigated the park, and just as rain started to fall made a quick dash to Falconwood station.

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