This is South London. Stage 24

We’re heading into unexplored territory now, Merton!

One of the reasons I was curious to take a spiral walk around London was I didn’t know so many places on the outskirts of the city – and I wanted to know them. Places like Merton, Barking, Roding, Tulse Hill. Where were these places? What were they like?

Now for some of these I’m beginning to put shape to names, mental maps, connections. Uh huh, Edmonton, grubby busy corner of the north circular, but it has the Pymmes Brook flowing in to it; oh yeah Barn Elms, a little ledge by the edge of the Thames because the flood plain behind is blocked to entry; o yeah Wanstead, a little hearth land of the ghostly forest of Epping.

So here we are in South London – any further south and we’d be in the Unofficial City of Croydon, (which is what the Croydon people should name it, and then eventually it would become official). We begin at the scruffy end of Wimbledon, looking for countryside, but finding just remnants tucked in close to the Wandle river, until we reach Morden Hall Park – thank you National Trust – across Mitcham “Common”, up Pollards Hill, and on to Norbury Hall Park. A pretty nice walk without too many suburban streets.

Reed bed board walk Morden Hall:

boardwalk morden hall

coots splash

Geese on Mitcham Common:

geese micham commonhuskywateringhole

rosebay willowherb

Date & time: Sunday July 9th 2017, 1pm
Meeting place:
Wimbledon station, District line or South West Trains from Waterloo, meet outside “Centre Court” the shopping centre, see photo
Distance: 5.5 miles, allow around 3 hours
End point:
Norbury station
Book by
 email, or phone 077932 00932
Cost
: Free, but bring an Oyster card for the Tram

Maphttps://goo.gl/maps/cktF27aHRyr

Stage 23 – Beverley Brook and beyond

Twice now we’ve encountered the Beverley Brook, first, briefly, at its conjunction with the Thames between Hammersmith Bridge and Putney Bridge (see Walk 12) and it intersects our spiral route again as we pass across Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common.

Like many urban waterways Beverley Brook suffered neglect and pollution for decades, but a few years ago a number of agencies committed to clean up the river and restore its meanders, and we are able to see the first fruits of their work in our walk. There’s some great coverage of the works done on the South East Rivers Trust website and on the Royal Parks site. You get a sense of its scruffiness a few years back from this piece by Andrew Bowden and on the Lost Rivers site.

We begin at Mortlake station and quickly come south into the verdure and space of Richmond Park. Here we meet again the Beverley (translation: Beaver Lea) Brook and follow it along open woodland from Sheen Gate to Robin Hood Gate.

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Date & time: Sunday June 11th 2017, 1pm
Meeting place:
Mortlake station South West Trains from Waterloo
Distance: the walk is 6 miles, with a break after 4m at Wimbledon Windmill
End point: Wimbledon station
Book by email, or phone 077932 00932
Cost
: No charge

Maphttps://goo.gl/maps/zLCSXNSxopj

taken from Merton guide http://www.merton.gov.uk/beverly_brook_walk.pdf

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queens mere wimbledon

wimbledonwindmill

 

Stage 22 – Ealing to Kew. West London.

This is one of the shortest stages of the London Spiral, a mere 4 and a half miles – and that’s to the Pagoda. But we can’t just march through Kew village sticking to the route, without taking time in the treetops and glasshouses of the Royal Botanical Gardens. There’s no way a walk past the National Archives – whose job is to shut things away for 30 years until the sting has gone out of the story – would be as good, even taking into account the pleasure of crossing the Thames at Brentford.

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No, here we must detour into the varied and remarkable expanse of Kew Gardens on a mid-May spring time visit.

Date & time: Sunday May 14th 2017, 1pm
Meeting place:
Ealing Broadway station
Distance: the walk is an easy 3 – 4 miles
End point: Kew Gardens
Book by email, or phone 077932 00932
Cost
: No charge for the walk, but it’s £15 for a regular adult ticket to Kew

viewfromKewBridgelookingwest

View from Kew Bridge to Brentford Ait (centre) and Brentford (right), ford at low tide

We quite liked Ealing on our last walk, and this stage takes in Walpole Park (too bad Pitzhanger house is closed for refurbishment). https://goo.gl/maps/BeJJmn8xUh62

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Kew Green cricket:

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Pictures from Kew Gardens in spring:

irisesirises

the Hive – http://londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/bees-hum-in-the-key-of-c/hivehiveinside

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view from treetop walkfromthetreetops

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Stage 20 – A spiritual journey

Date & time: Sunday April 9th 2017, 1pm
Meeting place:
Wembley Central station, Bakerloo line or overground
Distance: the walk is an easy 4.9 miles
End point: Ealing Broadway station
Cost: No charge

Wembley is not intrinsically a sunny place, but the Indian community in Wembley has brought colour and celebration to the fabric shops and fruit stalls, and they’ve built on the Ealing Road, a wonderful, ornately carved, beautiful temple, or mandir.

shri wembley open doors

This is the Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir, and is my favourite of the several remarkable mandirs that have been planted in north London. The stonework was all created in India and shipped to London for assembly. The exterior structure is more impressive than the shrines inside which seem small and doll-like.

We take a detour along the Grand Union Canal, to the foot of Horsenden Hill, then past Perivale tube station. There’s almost a view of the anachronistic Hoover building from the A40, but it’s in scaffolding.

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And a stop for music at St Mary’s Pitshanger by the River Brent, which surprisingly has regular Sunday concerts: http://www.st-marys-perivale.org.uk/events-001.shtml

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Route – https://goo.gl/maps/NpTzSszULRr

This walk is the fifth western section of the spiral: the first was the tight inner growth ring between Kings Cross and Euston; the second, still close to the centre, was down through The Regent’s Park; third was Maida Vale south to Chelsea; fourth was the expanse of Wormwood Scrubs; now here we are one more spiral out heading south through Alperton and Perivale, to Ealing. Click for full spiral route.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to place thirty thousand new homes?

London is big, but is it big enough to absorb 30,000 new homes built in the next 2 years?

Actually the answer is Yes, there are thirty thousand new homes being built in Colindale in north London, and pretty fine they look too. Every big developer is putting up their block of flats, or rather luxury apartments, gathered round communal gardens, each home with a verandah, and a fitted kitchen. In 2004 then-mayor Ken Livingston’s team identified this area as a growth area, prime for new homes, and the London Plan led to the Brent and Barnet Area Action Plans, which saw by 2010, the start of a big-scale rebuilding programme.

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Redrow are building Colindale Gardens on the site of the old Hendon Police College.

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Colindale is an area that has seen many attempts at development in the past century, and most of it not much wack, as we’ll see on our walk, but the new plan looks as if it has staying power, through the combined effect of investment in infrastructure and shops, competition between developers, which is increasing standards, and the big-picture, blood-stirring London Plan from the Mayor’s office.

While house building has fallen across London as a whole, in northwest London new builds grew by 12%, according to Land Registry transactions, a growth rate exceeded only by Stratford and the east (see our Stratford walk).

TNQ-the-northern-quarter-colindale-by-asda

Meeting place: Colindale station, Northern line
Date & time: Sunday March 12th 2017, 1pm
Distance: the walk is an easy 4.5 miles
End point: Wembley Stadium
Cost: No charge

All this building work means that our walk is a point in time, a snapshot of the birth of a new community and a new identity. Come this way again in a year or two, and it will be much more settled, much more centred. Right now the place is new and unclad and fast changing. It looks continental, not really English; the density of housing is high, but so is the amenity.

Here’s an article from the Guardian on how these developments get their initial funding.

 

 

We passed through the “Roe Green Village Conservation Area”, built at end of WW1 for the workers of the local Aircraft Manufacturing Company: www.roegreenvillage.org.uk/history

The walk moves through densely packed Colindale onto the empty space of Fryent Park, an old remnant of Middlesex, whose field lines and hedgerows are intact, where the population density on a March afternoon can drop to 1 person per square mile, as low as the Cairngorms, and you’re looking at how it was 700 years ago.

fryent-country-parkFryent Country park view from Google Earth

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Wembley – another area experiencing remarkable change through building.

Article on Europe’s tallest modular tower, for student accommodation.

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The route: https://binged.it/2mlhC9A

fryent route

Like to join the London Spiral? Contact: tim.ingram-smith@virgin.net 077932 00932

A detour

Elliot tells me about the London Circle walk, a route picked to adhere as closely as possible to a perfect geometry, difficult to achieve, bound by the availability of Roads, and Bridges. It seems to me quite Quixotic. He meant to resemble it to mine, a spiral walk, also bound by bridges, also limited to a route, and a direction. However I’m not sticking to the prescribed path, it’s a small matter to me to wander off – to detour – especially where the scenery warrants.

There is an ideal path, a dotted line across the landscape, that tramps unconstrained across enclosed fields, set aside space and private yards, then there is the realisable path, which sometimes, often in fact, coincides with the ideal path, but may be obliged to switch angularly back and forth; lastly there is the chosen route, the actual journey trodden, which may, like Canary Wharf, be an entire detour, not on the spiral at all, or, like Mile End Park, a diversion, a more enjoyable walking experience than trudging past housing estates and main roads, or a jaunt off to the side, a meander, like Mill Hill with its schools and research labs and religious control towers.

silver-street-spiral2 Reclaimed park by Silver Street station

Up Mill Hill and down Colindale

Stage 18 of the London Spiral starts off in a similar fashion to the previous stage, beside a winding river; this time the Dollis Brook, which wriggles through the valley below the Totter ridge, while last walk’s Pymme’s Brook chugged along the next valley to the east. There’s a tarmac path, which spares the soft ground in winter, but if you attempt to turn off along Folly Brook, you’re quickly in a muddy soup, which sticks to your boots and splashes your trousers.

dollis-brook

So our walk largely stayed on the path, which meant suburban landscapes of semi-detached houses, front drives, and cul-de-sacs – although we did try and follow the ideal spiral and the public footpath over the field at Lullington Garth, but got sucked into the horse-churned mud at the stables.

We climbed from the valley floor up to the Ridgeway at Mill Hill, where we could see a number of unusual buildings, including a bunker converted to a luxury home, the megalithic, copper-topped Medical Research Laboratory, now dubbed Francis Crick Institute, the Mill Hill School, several religious institutions, and a bit further on, the UCL Observatory.

The National Institute for Medical Research published some great essays for general reading, everything from malaria research to gene therapy – worth checking out if you have an interest in Biology.

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We are in Tube zone 4, walking from one arm of the Northern line to the other, from Totteridge & Whetstone to Colindale.

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mill-hill-village-pondMill Hill Village pond

hedge-tunnelHedge tunnel

On the other side of the main northbound arterial A1 & M1 roads and Kings Cross railway line, we pause to recharge at one of the most unusual and interesting cafes in London: the Royal Air Force Museum – that helicopter is older than me!

helicopter-westland-wessex

Meeting place: just outside Totteridge and Whetstone tube station, Northern line
Date & time: Sunday February 19th 2017, 1pm
Distance: the walk is an easy 4.5 miles
End point: Colindale station, also the Northern line, but a different branch
Cost: No charge

Contact: tim.ingram-smith@virgin.net 077932 00932

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Walk finished in Colindale, where there’s plenty of new housing development focusing on smart, contemporary designs and high-level interior specification. We’ll take a closer look at the work underway next month.