When you get to the outskirts of London and reach the first fields, what do you find?
Like a saddle belt strapped around the city it seems every spare field is given over to the accommodation of horses. There’s not really space for them in those paddocks, not for an animal built to roam an open plain, but we keep them in their hundreds.
The equine life reaches a crescendo here in West London – we already passed Kempton Park race ground on the previous stage of the walk, and crossed the Thames at Hampton Ferry to Hurst Park, now a suburb but until the 1960s the home of Hurst Park race track (Racecourse of the past – BBC archive), which drew tens of thousands of spectators on a bank holiday. Now we begin this walk at Sandown Park race course and continue south to Epsom Downs, domicile of the Derby.
Sandown Park Racecourse. Photograph (taken from a train) 2006 by Jacqueline Banerjee. [image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose, as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to http://www.victorianweb.org/art/parks/10.html.
Here’s my one, taken from the station platform at Esher:
The Sandown course is a right-handed oval, a mile and five furlongs around … read more at https://www.freeracingtips.co.uk/sandown/
We walked from Sandown Park across Littleworth Common, now a pleasant woodland, up Telegraph Hill with Semaphore House at the top, which was one of the semaphore stations used by the Admiralty in the 19th century to get messages from Whitehall to Portsmouth (http://www.org2b.com/claygate/index.php?title=Telegraph_Hill). Jon Taylor walked the whole semaphore line in 2011 and wrote about his journey in www.JonT.org.uk/log/semaphore.htm.
Maybe you’d like to buy a horse yourself?
We crossed the A3 into Chessington and on to Horton Country Park. Many horses all around, and also other animals at the Hobbledown Farm Adventure Park.
How does he get into his hammock? (Sara’s joke)
Bit of a dull march into Epsom, but after a refreshment there, the walk along Chalk Lane to Epsom Downs was a revelation.
Epsom town centre clock tower
The land opened out onto a wide sweeping space, with long views of London spires, and a changing sky.
Statue of Generous, a popular Epsom Derby champion – see him win the 1991 RACE
Epsom Racecourse is situated on the chalk ridges known as the North Downs, which cross the county of Surrey in southern England. The Epsom Derby course is a mile, four furlongs, and 10 yards in extent, and curved like a horseshoe.
Rosie said there are 22 yards in a chain; 10 chains in a furlong; 8 furlongs in a mile.
For a sense of the excitement of the Derby, search for Epsom Derby on Google images:
One of the most infamous incidents in the history of the Derby took place at Tattenham Corner in 1913, when militant suffragette Emily Wilding Davison climbed beneath the running rail and threw herself under Anmer, owned by King George V. She never regained consciousness and died a few days later from internal injuries … read more
Sourced from a Guardian article re-examining the footage.
Today it is peaceful: view over the racecourse from Tattenham Corner:
The London Spiral, a walk around London from the inside out, has reached its outer circle, and over the months ahead will be exploring those parts of Berkshire, Surrey and Kent that melt into the edge of the metropolis.
Meet at: Esher station (train from Waterloo), KT10 8DY
When: Sunday 9 September 2018, 1pm
Distance: walk 8.5 miles to Epsom Downs (train back to Waterloo from several stations)
Walk takes in: Sandown, Littleworth woods, Chessington, Horton country park, Hobbledown zoo, Epsom town centre, Epsom Downs racecourse