Gladstone Park to Fryent Country Park: The Natural Treasures of North London

A warm welcome to all the London lovers and walking enthusiasts out there! My journey today will take me to the most Northern part of the capital that I’ve explored as I begin at Gladstone Park and uncover the gem of Dollis Hill House. I’ll then discover Woodfield Park and Brent Reservoir, before heading through Silver Jubilee Park and concluding at Fryent Country Park. It’s a walk which takes me to woodlands, a reservoir and a country park and sees me stroll through some of North London’s most wonderful sights.

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Gladstone Park to Fryent Country Park

Located in Dollis Hill, Gladstone Park is 35 hectares (86 acres) of picturesque trees and glorious greenery.  The arrival of the Great Central Railway towards the end of the 19th century led to the loss of sports grounds in Neasden, which prompted the public to back a new park in Dollis Hill.

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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park

The proposed land to be used was part of the Finch family’s estate, and after local objection was resolved, funds were raised to purchase it for £52,000. The funds would come from a variety of councils, including Middlesex County Council, London County Council, Hampstead, Hendon and Willesden.

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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park

The contract to purchase the house, gardens and estate from Robert Augustus Finch was signed by the council on 9 August 1899. On 12 December 1899 it was agreed to name the park after William Ewart Gladstone, the Prime Minister who had died the previous year and who had visited the house for many years.

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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Cool bird sculpture!
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Cool bird sculpture!

The park was designed by Oliver Claude Robson, the District Council Surveyor. It was decided to leave the northern part of the new park to its ‘original and natural beauty’, while devoting the southern section of the park to sports. Robson would also install fencing, a children’s playground, seats, stabling, pavilions for football and cricket, and a water supply. Interestingly no paths were created, instead these were added once the park was opened as Robson wanted people to mark out their own pathways.

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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park

Today the London Borough of Brent owns the park and is maintained by the Brent Parks Service. Some of the park’s features include a formal garden, duck pond, varied terrain, woodland and hedgerows.

The entire park area, especially the pleasure gardens and pond, really are one of London’s hidden gems, and whenever I walk around them basking in their natural splendour, I do think that had I not been a fan of walking around the capital, I’d never have come across it! Gladstone Park isn’t a tourist hotspot, nor is it somewhere that’s well-known, so unless you’ve visited it before, you’d probably never come across it. That’s a great shame and is one of the many reasons I love doing this blog as I can discover areas such as these. For a moment of peace and quiet, you’d definitely want to pay it a visit.

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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park
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Gladstone Park

One of the park’s historical landmarks was the Dollis Hill House which was an early 19th century farmhouse located on the northern boundary of Gladstone Park. The house was built in 1825 by the Finch family when the Dollis Hill area was still rural. In 1881 Lord Tweedmouth’s daughter and her husband, Lord Aberdeen, took up residence. They often had Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone stay as a guest. Other guests at the house included Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Rosebery, and Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston Churchill. The Aberdeens moved out in 1897 after Lord Aberdeen was appointed Governor-General of Canada. The Willesden and Urban District Council acquired the house and land in 1899. A notable resident of the house was American author Mark Twain who stayed there in the summer of 1900.

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Dollis Hill House (Source: Dollis Hill House.org)

The house would open to the public in 1909 and was used as a hospital during the First World War. Also, in 1941 it was used as Winston Churchill’s war cabinet during the Second World War. From 1974 the house was used for training courses for catering students until it closed in 1989. The house was damaged badly in two separate fires in 1995 and 1996 and remained derelict from then onwards before being demolished in 2012 and landscaped as a stabilised ruin. Despite many campaigns to restore the house to its former glory, none have unfortunately come to fruition.

The ruins from the house remain near the pleasure grounds to provide a slight glimpse of what it used to look like. Even though the house hasn’t been resorted, it’s lovely to see that a part of it is still there and is a wonderful legacy to a truly beautiful building which has a lot of history attached to it.

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Remains of Dollis Hill House
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Remains of Dollis Hill House

I’ll now leave Gladstone Park and visit my next destination on my walk today, Woodfield Park. Located in Hendon, the park is home to the Brent Reservoir which is commonly known as the Welsh Harp and straddles the boundary between the boroughs of Brent and Barnet, and is owned by the Canal & River Trust.

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Brent Reservoir
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Brent Reservoir
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Brent Reservoir

The Welsh Harp name comes from the public house which also had the same name and stood nearby until the early 1970s. The 68.6 hectare (169 acres) area is a site of special scientific interest and is home to the sailing centre, the Welsh Harp Sailing Club, Wembley Sailing Club, the Sea Cadets and the University of London Sailing Club. The reservoir now holds an estimated 1,600,000 m³.

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Brent Reservoir
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Brent Reservoir
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Brent Reservoir

The history of the reservoir dates back to 1820 when there wasn’t enough water to supply the Grand Union Canal and the Regent’s Canal, so having obtained an enabling act of Parliament in 1819, the Regent’s Canal Company decided to dam the River Brent to create a reservoir and cut a feeder channel from it to an upper point on the Grand Union Canal. The reservoir was constructed by contractor William Hoof between 1834 and 1835, with additional extensions to it completed in December 1837.  Having explored many watery wonders on my walks, this is the first time I’ve visited a reservoir, so it’s something else I’ve managed tick off my London walking checklist!

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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park

The surrounding area beside the reservoir is called Woodfield Park and contains a wide variety of birds including the great crested grebe, gadwall, shoveler, common pochard, tufted duck and common tern. Also it’s home to 31 species of butterfly, dragonflies and damselflies as well as foxes, squirrels and bats. I really enjoyed walking through the grass, by the trees and under the branches discovering all the parks little treasures. One of the best sights you’ll see when you explore the park is the sun shining through the trees creating mesmerising light and shadow.

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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park
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Woodfield Park

It’s time for me to leave Woodfield Park and Brent Reservoir and make the journey to my final location on today’s walk, Fryent Country Park. To get there I pass by the lovely Silver Jubilee Park, which was renamed for the Jubilee of King George V in 1935. The park has a mixture of picturesque trees and sports facilities.

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Silver Jubilee Park
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Silver Jubilee Park

My walk concludes at Fryent Country Park which is 103 hectares (254 acres) of rolling fields and woodland located in the London Borough of Brent. The wood comprises of French oak, hornbeam, elm, ash and fruit trees, and is considered as one of the surviving examples of the Middlesex countryside.

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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park

 

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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park

Like with the Brent Reservoir, this is first time I’ve walked through a country park, something you don’t normally expect in London. While you’re walking through the park you get a glimpse of Wembley Stadium in the distance, which provides a true juxtaposition of a quiet natural park with a loud football stadium. When you stand in the middle of the park and look around, taking in a 360 degree view, all you can see is trees and green land, which does make it quite surreal and unique to other places in London.

When you think of London what normally comes to mind is landmarks such as Big Ben, The Shard or Buckingham Palace, and even when you think of the nature in the capital, you might think about Hyde Park or perhaps Hampstead Heath. But what makes exploring London so marvellous is you come across unexpected places like Fryent Country Park, which you wouldn’t have thought could be in London!

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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park
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Fryent Country Park

Well that’s all from my walk today which has seen me explore North London’s finest natural wonders from parks to reservoirs and a country park, it has included it all! So if you’re ever wandering around North London seeking some tranquility, there’s plenty to enjoy.

Thanks for reading and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!

Victoria to Green Park

Marble Arch to Mayfair

The Shard to Monument

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

Waterloo to The London Eye

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

Mile End Park to London Fields

Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens

Little Venice to Abbey Road

Regent’s Park to Soho Square

Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge

Grosvenor Gardens to Knightsbridge

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

Tower Bridge to Stave Hill

Shoreditch to Islington Green

Highgate to Finsbury Park

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs

Covent Garden to Southwark Bridge

Putney Bridge to Barnes Common

Westminster Abbey to Vauxhall Bridge

Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich Wood

Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge

Norbury Park to Tooting Commons

Lesnes Abbey Woods to the Thames Barrier

Richmond Green to Wimbledon Common

Chiswick Bridge to Kew Green

Sources:

All photos taken by London Wlogger unless stated © Copyright 2019

Information about Gladstone Park

Information about Dollis Hill House

Information about Brent Reservoir

Information about Silver Jubilee Park

Information about Fryent Country Park

Chiswick Bridge to Kew Green: Bridges, Batting and Bowling

A very happy hello to you and thanks for joining me on another expedition of London’s best sights and hidden gems. My walk today will explore more of London’s wonderful bridges, as I begin at Chiswick Bridge and take a stroll past Kew Railway Bridge and Kew Bridge. My journey will end in the picturesque and quaint Kew Green where I’ll watch a cricket match! It’s a short walk, but I’ll uncover a really beautiful part of the capital along the River Thames.

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Chiswick Bridge to Kew Green

My first stop on my walk is Chiswick Bridge, which opened in 1933. Located in Mortlake, the reinforced concrete deck arch bridge was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Alfred Dryland – with it being constructed by Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company.

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Chiswick Bridge

The two villages of Chiswick and Mortlake, located either side of the north and south banks of the River Thames, had been linked by a ferry since the 17th century. However, in the 19th century with the arrival of the railway and London Underground, as well as increased ownership of cars, the populations of Chiswick and Mortlake grew rapidly.

This caused congestion problems, which led to the construction of the A316 road. The new road required two new bridges to be built at Twickenham and Chiswick. In addition, to Chiswick Bridge opening, Twickenham Bridge was built as well as the rebuilding of Hampton Court Bridge. After the construction of the bridges, this resulted in the ferry being closed permanently.

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Chiswick Bridge

The bridge is 606 feet (185 m) long, and carries two 15-foot (4.6 m) wide walkways, and a 40-foot (12 m) wide road. At the time it was built, the 150-foot (46 m) central span was the longest concrete span over the Thames. One distinct and unusual feature of Chiswick Bridge is only three of its five arches span across the river, with the other two passing over the towpath. The bridge is also famous for being the finishing point in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.

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Chiswick Bridge in the Distance

I really love Chiswick Bridge’s concrete structure, which makes it look so grand and elegant. Like all the bridges I’ve discovered on my walks, it stands prominent along the Thames, with such splendour. The view from it isn’t too bad either with the natural beauty of trees and glorious greenery on both sides of the riverbank.

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View from Chiswick Bridge

As you leave Chiswick Bridge you get to enjoy a wonderful walk under the trees along the riverside path.

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Chiswick Bridge Towpath

Walking along the towpath takes you to the very unique Kew Railway Bridge. Opening in 1869, the five wrought iron lattice girder bridge was designed by W. R. Galbraith and built by Brassy & Ogilvie for the London and South Western Railway.  The bridge was part of an extension of the railway from Acton Junction to Richmond.

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Kew Railway Bridge

Given Grade II listed structure protection in 1983, it carries London Overground trains between Richmond and Stratford, and District Line London Underground trains from Richmond and Upminster. It’s such a quirky bridge and one of the few in London which carries only trains, not cars or pedestrians. The colour of it blends in so well with the colour of the trees and water, which adds to its wonderful character.

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Kew Railway Bridge

I’ll now take a stroll along the lovely riverside onto the final of the three bridges on my journey, Kew Bridge.

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Kew Riverside
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Kew Riverside

The first bridge on the site was built by Robert Tunstall of Brentford who previously owned the ferry which was located on the river in Kew. This bridge was inaugurated on 1 June 1759 by the Prince of Wales and was opened to the public three days later. There was massive excitement for the opening of the new bridge with over 3,000 people crossing over it in its first day.

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Kew Bridge

The original bridge was constructed with two stone arches at each end and seven timber arches in between, which was costly to maintain and consequently ‘only’ lasted 30 years. In 1782, the bridge gained consent to be replaced with a new structure which was designed by James Paine – opening on 22 September 1789.

By the 1890s the second bridge wasn’t able to cope with the weight of the traffic and engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry was invited to assess the bridge. He suggested to build a new bridge, rather than modify it. Designed by Sir John Wolfe-Berry and Cuthbert A. Brereton, the third bridge was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 20 May 1903 – and this is the bridge we see today.  The bridge has also inspired many artists who’ve painted or drawn it, including Paul Sandby, James Webb, Henry Muhrman, J.M.W. Turner and Myles Birket Foster.

Like with so many of London Bridge’s, the stone design makes it distinct and is quite similar to Chiswick Bridge. The view across the river of Kew is really breathtaking with beautiful trees either side and you can just about see Kew Railway Bridge in the distance too.

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View from Kew Bridge

My final destination on my walk is Kew Green, which has to be one of my favourite destinations that I’ve visited on all my London expeditions.  The 30 acre (12 hectare) triangular space has been a venue for cricket since the 1730s – with one of the earliest matches being played there between Kent and Brentford in June 1730. Kew Cricket Club was established in 1882 following the amalgamation of two local clubs – Kew Oxford Cricket Club and Kew Cambridge Cricket Club.

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Kew Cricket Club – Kew Green
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Kew Cricket Club – Kew Green

On the day I visited I was lucky enough to watch an actually cricket match, which was a friendly between Kew Cricket Club and Acton Cricket Club. When cricket is being played it’s so scenic and whenever you think of village cricket you certainly have this view in mind. It’s such a quintessentially and traditional British sight a game of cricket on a village green, something you’d see on a postcard. I do love the sound of a willow bat on ball, very soothing and pleasant. The beautiful pavilion on one side with the St Anne’s Church on the south side makes it very reminiscent of Richmond Green. Unlike Richmond Green, I have actually played on this green back in 2014 for a work cricket day for a friend – so it’s one cricket ground I’ve ticked off my list!

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Kew Cricket Club – Kew Green
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Kew Cricket Club – Kew Green
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Kew Cricket Club – Kew Green

Well that’s all from me today, and I couldn’t think of a more perfectly pleasant way to end my walk than on the cute Kew Green basking in the sun watching cricket! Hope you’ve enjoyed joining me on this walk which has seen me explore another three of London’s bridges and one of its great little treasures.

Thanks for reading and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!

Victoria to Green Park

Marble Arch to Mayfair

The Shard to Monument

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

Waterloo to The London Eye

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

Mile End Park to London Fields

Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens

Little Venice to Abbey Road

Regent’s Park to Soho Square

Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge

Grosvenor Gardens to Knightsbridge

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

Tower Bridge to Stave Hill

Shoreditch to Islington Green

Highgate to Finsbury Park

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs

Covent Garden to Southwark Bridge

Putney Bridge to Barnes Common

Westminster Abbey to Vauxhall Bridge

Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich Wood

Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge

Norbury Park to Tooting Commons

Lesnes Abbey Woods to the Thames Barrier

Richmond Green to Wimbledon Common

Sources:

All photos taken by London Wlogger © Copyright 2019

Information about Chiswick Bridge

Information about Kew Railway Bridge

Information about Kew Bridge

Information about Kew Green

Richmond Green to Wimbledon Common: Exploring Richmond’s finest sights

Hello there my fellow walking fans and thanks for joining me as I take my next journey around London. My adventure today sees me explore Richmond’s most popular and picturesque sights. I’ll begin my walk at Richmond Green and take a stroll down to the riverside where I’ll pass by not one, but four bridges – Richmond Railway Bridge, Twickenham Bridge, Richmond Lock and Footbridge and Richmond Bridge. I’ll then take a walk up Richmond Hill to discover one of the finest views you’ll see and from there uncover Richmond Park’s amazing landscapes, including the superb Isabella Plantation. My walk will then end in woodlands of Wimbledon Common.

I have to say this walk was one of my favourites to do and was always on my list, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did doing it!

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Richmond Green to Wimbledon Common

My walk starts at Richmond Green, which is owned by the Crown Estate and leased to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The Green is roughly 12 acres (4 hectares) and is overlooked by a mixture of period townhouses, historic buildings and commercial establishments, including the Richmond Lending Library.

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Richmond Green
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Richmond Green

In the Middle Ages Richmond Green was used for jousting tournaments when English monarchs were living in or visiting the area. There have been houses and commercial premises around the Green for over 400 years, which were built for people visiting Richmond Palace. Charles I brought his court to the area in 1625 to escape the plague of London and by the 18th Century these would become the homes of minor nobility, diplomats and court hangers-on.

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Richmond Green
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Richmond Green

The mid-19th Century saw the Green being cut off from the Old Deer Park as a result of the construction of the railway and this was further exacerbated by the A316 road being built in the early 20th Century.

Whenever you think of a village green, I envision a view like Richmond Green, with all its surrounding houses and spacious areas. It’s such a cute and lovely little gem of Richmond, and does perfectly illustrate all that’s wonderful about green spaces in the town.

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Richmond Green

One of the Green’s most familiar features is its association with cricket with matches being played on it since the 17th Century. The earliest reference to cricket on Richmond Green is from a 1666 letter by Sir Robert Paston, a Richmond resident. The earliest known fixture on the Green was Surrey vs. Middlesex in June 1730 – a match won by Surrey. The first reference of a team playing on the Green was in July 1743 – while today it’s the home to two village teams playing there. One cricketing feature of the Green is the beautiful pub called The Cricketers. I’d love to one day play on the Green as it’s got that real village cricket feel about it!

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The Cricketers Pub

I’ll now leave Richmond Green and head towards the picturesque Richmond waterfront where I’ll find not one, but four bridges! Down by the river is really like something from a postcard and would make a wonderful watercolour painting!

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Richmond Waterfront
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Richmond Waterfront
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Blooming Lovely Richmond
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Richmond Waterfront

As you head away from the waterfront and Richmond Bridge, you come to the first of three bridges in a row, Richmond Railway Bridge. After the railway came to Richmond in 1846, the line was extended to Windsor, which meant a bridge was required to pass over the Thames. The original bridge was designed by Joseph Locke and J.E. Errington, opening in 1848. The bridge’s design and structure were similar to Barnes Bridge, which also used three 100 foot cast iron girders supported on a stone-faced land arches with two stone-faced river piers.

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Richmond Railway Bridge

The bridge was rebuilt in 1908 after concerns were raised about its structural integrity. Further developments occurred in 1984 with its main bridge girders and decking being replaced. In 2008 the bridge was declared a Grade II listed structure to preserve it.

The most striking aspect of the bridge for me is its colour, such a bright and radiant yellow really adds elegance to it. I’m a huge fan of its structure and character, does have a real waterway feel about it.

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Richmond Railway Bridge
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View of Richmond Railway Bridge from Twickenham Bridge

Right next to Richmond Railway Bridge is Twickenham Bridge, which opened in 1933 and carries both cars and pedestrians across it. The bridge was constructed for the new Chertsey Arterial Road, which connects the Old Deer Park on the south bank of the river and St. Margarets on the north bank. The name of the bridge derives from the fact it’s on the road to the town Twickenham, which is approximately 3km upstream from the bridge.

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Twickenham Bridge

The bridge’s architect was Maxwell Ayrton, with Alfred Dryland being the head engineer. The bridge incorporates three permanent hinges enabling the structure to adjust to changes in temperature, and was the first reinforced concrete bridge structure in the UK to use such an innovation. The arch springings, as well as the arch crowns, have decorative bronze cover plates. One notable and historic element of the bridge is that in 1992 the first Gatso speed camera in the UK was placed there.  Like Richmond Railway Bridge, it was declared a Grade II listed structure in 2008.

Once again the colour of the bridge glistening in the sunshine and reflecting in the water adds to its beauty. There really aren’t too many more lovely sights than a bridge over a river, and luckily London provides so many of these views.

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Twickenham Bridge
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View of Richmond Lock and Footbridge from Twickenham Bridge

The final bridge in the trio is the unique Richmond Lock and Footbridge, which opened in 1894. The bridge is a lock, rising and falling low-tide barrage integrating controlled sluices and paired with pedestrian bridges. The Grade II listed structure is the furthest downstream of the 45 Thames locks and the one and only operated by the Port of London Authority.

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Richmond Lock and Footbridge
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Richmond Lock and Footbridge

It connects the promenade at Richmond with the neighbouring district of St. Margarets on the west bank. At high tide the sluice gates are raised and partly hidden behind metal arches forming twin footbridges. The lock bridge was built to maintain the lowest-lying head of water of the 45 navigable reaches of the Thames above the rest of the Tideway. Below the structure for a few miles, at low tide, the navigable channel is narrow and restricts access for vessels with the greatest draft. The next major point of mooring below the lock is at Brentford Dock.

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Richmond Lock and Footbridge
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Richmond Lock and Footbridge
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View from Richmond Lock and Footbridge

I’ve explored many of London’s bridges, but this one is so distinct, never have I explored one which has a lock within it. It’s such a quirky structure and so different to the other locks I’ve walked past on my routes. An architectural piece of brilliance, it has a grand and historical nature about it. The one thing also that struck me was how complex the bridge is, as it isn’t just a normal bridge, there’s so many technical aspects within it to function the lock. Also the view from it is something to behold across the Thames of the other bridges and it feels quite eerily as you’re quite high up, so you can only hear the breeze of the wind.

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Richmond Lock and Footbridge
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View Richmond Lock and Footbridge
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View from Richmond Lock and Footbridge
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Richmond Lock and Footbridge

I’ll now take a stroll back to Richmond’s waterfront towards my next stop on today’s walk, Richmond Bridge.

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Richmond Waterfront
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Richmond Waterfront
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Richmond Waterfront

I just love the riverside area in Richmond, it has such a special feel about it as it’s not like other parts of London that are along the Thames. – it has the essence of a small village. Richmond is known for being an affluent place and the estate like buildings on the waterfront promenade do illustrate that wealthy reputation.

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Richmond Waterfront
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Richmond Waterfront
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Richmond Waterfront
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Richmond Waterfront

Beside the waterfront sits the pretty Richmond Bridge, which opened in 1777 as a replacement for a ferry crossing which connected Richmond town centre on the east bank with its neighbouring district of East Twickenham to the west. Designed by James Paine and Kenton Couse, the stone arch bridge had tolls charged on it until 1859.  A grade I listed structure, the bridge was widened and slightly flattened between 1937 and 1940, but otherwise still conforms to its original design.

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Richmond Bridge
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Richmond Bridge

Today, it’s the oldest surviving Thames bridge in London and you can’t help but be taken in my its splendour. The historical significance of it really comes through in its stone structure and I have to say it’s one of my favourite bridges in London, which is a bold statement as there are so many wonderful structures to choose from! It’s the ideal vantage point to see across Richmond’s pretty waterfront.

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View from Richmond Bridge
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View from Richmond Bridge

I’ll now follow the river as it meanders its way through Richmond and take a detour to my next stop today, Richmond Hill.

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Richmond River
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Richmond River

I’ve taken in some amazing views of London, whether that’s from Parliament Hill or Stave Hill or Sydenham or Alexandra Palace, but the one from Richmond Hill is something so special. Unlike the other aforementioned viewpoints, you get a different perspective from the hill as you can’t see any of London’s iconic landmarks, more the pleasant sight of trees and the river, it feels like the countryside. The awe-inspiring view for me demonstrates why I love London so much, as you uncover something new and thrilling with every area you explore.

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Richmond Hill
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Richmond Hill
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Richmond Hill
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Richmond Hill
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Richmond Hill

A walk down the path and taking a left at the bottom of the hill brings you to the vast Petersham Meadows.

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Petersham Meadows
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Petersham Meadows
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Petersham Meadows
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Petersham Meadows

After you’ve walked through the meadows you come to the remarkable Richmond Park! The park was created by Charles I in the 17th Century as a deer park and is the largest of London’s Royal Parks. At 955 hectares (2,360 acres) it’s also the second largest park in London, after the 4,046 hectares (10,000 acres) Lee Valley Park and is Britain’s second largest urban walled park after Sutton Park in Birmingham. To put that into further perspective, Richmond Park is around three times the size of Central Park in New York!

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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park

One of the most amazing parts of London, the park is a national nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation with Grade I listing. An Historic England site, its landscapes have inspired many famous artists and been the setting for several films and TV programmes.

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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park

Richmond Park includes many buildings of architectural or historic interest. The Grade 1 listed White Lodge was formerly a royal residence and is now home to the Royal Ballet School. The park’s boundary walls and ten other buildings are listed as a Grade II listing, including Pembroke Lodge, the home of 19th Century British Prime Minister Lord John Russell and his grandson, the philosopher Bertrand Russell.

Historically the preserve of the monarch, the park is now open for all to use and includes a golf course and other facilities for sport and recreation. It played an important role in both world wars and in the 1948 and 2012 Olympics.

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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park

The great thing about Richmond Park is that it combines so many incredible elements – a wonderful view, picturesque gardens, spacious splendour and hidden gems. You can’t underestimate just how big it is and with every step you take you encounter more and more of its awesomeness and can truly get lost within all its beauty.

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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park

Now I was walking around Richmond Park and I thought, there’s one thing the park is known for which I’ve still not seen… deers! But luckily that changed as I came across the majestic sight of a herd of deer! They’re so tame and you can get so close to them without them getting scared. If you approach them slowly and quietly, you can get such a great photo, and this was the closest I’d ever gotten to them, and might ever get to see them. There aren’t too many places in London where you can get to meet such amazing creatures, and this has to be the first time I’ve come across an animal like it on my walks!

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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park
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Richmond Park

A distinct part of Richmond Park is its picturesque Isabella Plantation, which is a 16 hectare (40 acre) woodland garden planted in the 1830s. It first opened to the public in 1953 and is best known for its evergreen azaleas, which line its ponds and streams.

Located in the gardens are the National Collection of Wilson 50 Kurume Azaelas (introduced to the west from Japan in the 1920’s by the plant collector Ernest Wilson), large collections of Rhododendrons and Camellias, plus many other rare and unusual trees and shrubs.

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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation

I immediately fell in love with the gardens with all its cute streams, colourful plants and tranquility. You can tell there’s definitely a Japanese influence on it and it did remind me quite a bit of my walk around Kyoto Garden in Holland Park.

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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation
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Isabella Plantation

My final destination on this edition of the London Wlogger is Wimbledon Common, which is a short walk from Richmond Park. Now on my walks I’ve seen quite a lot of sights, but this had to be one of the weirdest things yet… a pedestrian crossing button… where there’s no road or crossing! Very odd indeed!

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Mystery Traffic Light

Wimbledon Common is a large open space made up of three areas – Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common, which together are managed under the name Wimbledon and Putney Commons. The area is 460 hectares (1,140 acres) of protected woodland and common land, and is the largest expanse of heathland in the London area.

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Wimbledon Common
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Wimbledon Common

In 1864, the lord of the manor, Earl Spencer, who owned Wimbledon manor, attempted to pass a private parliamentary bill to enclose the Common for the creation of a new park with a house and gardens and to sell part for building. In a landmark decision for English common land, and following an enquiry, permission was refused and a board of conservators was established in 1871 to take ownership of the common and preserve it in its natural condition.

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Wimbledon Common
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Wimbledon Common
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Wimbledon Common

In the 19th Century the windmill in the common was the headquarters of the National Rifle Association and drew large crowds each July. These annual gatherings were attended by the élite of fashion. The Common is also home to The Wombles, a series of characters created by Elizabeth Beresford, who later got their own TV show and musical group!

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Wimbledon Common
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Wimbledon Common

The Common once again offers the blend of breathtaking natural sights with many hidden treasures and pathways. I really loved the tall trees, which tower above you when you walk through them. It truly is the most wonderful of places to finish my walk!

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Wimbledon Common
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Wimbledon Common
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Wimbledon Common

Well it has been a splendid walk where I’ve explored the best that Richmond has to offer – with its bridges, views and park, and then finishing like many of my walks before have done, in marvellous woodland setting!

Thanks for joining me and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!

Victoria to Green Park

Marble Arch to Mayfair

The Shard to Monument

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

Waterloo to The London Eye

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

Mile End Park to London Fields

Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens

Little Venice to Abbey Road

Regent’s Park to Soho Square

Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge

Grosvenor Gardens to Knightsbridge

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

Tower Bridge to Stave Hill

Shoreditch to Islington Green

Highgate to Finsbury Park

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs

Covent Garden to Southwark Bridge

Putney Bridge to Barnes Common

Westminster Abbey to Vauxhall Bridge

Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich Wood

Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge

Norbury Park to Tooting Commons

Lesnes Abbey Woods to the Thames Barrier

Sources:

All photos taken by London Wlogger © Copyright 2019

Information about Richmond Green

Information about Richmond Railway Bridge

Information about Twickenham Bridge

Information about Richmond Lock and Footbridge

Information about Richmond Bridge

Information about Richmond Park

Information about the Isabella Plantation

Information about Wimbledon Common

Lesnes Abbey Woods to the Thames Barrier: Woodland, historical and architectural gems of South-East London

A very warm welcome to you and thanks for coming along with me on my next journey of the capital. Today’s walking adventure explores some of London’s lesser-known sights. I’ll begin my stroll in Lesnes Abbey Woods, continue through Thamesmead and then join the Thames Path. This will then take me past Royal Arsenal, Woolwich before ending my walk at the Thames Barrier. With a wonderful woodland, historical gem, magnificent military area and the architectural brilliance of a barrier awaiting me, let’s start discovering more of London!

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Lesnes Abbey Woods to The Thames Barrier

My journey starts in Lesnes Abbey Woods, or sometimes known as Abbey Wood, which is an ancient woodland based in South-East London situated in the London Borough of Bexley. The name Lesnes derives from the ruins of Lesnes Abbey church, and we’ll discover that more as the walk goes on!

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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods

The wood’s date back to the Bronze Age and are full of wild bluebells and daffodils in the Spring, but all year round there’s a variety of beautiful trees, shrubs, plants and bushes spread around a vast area of woodland. In order to persevere its natural beauty, a local community group called the Lesnes Abbey Conservation Volunteers runs practical conservation events to help manage the woodland. The group was started in 1994 and is a registered environmental conservation charity run by the local people, and works closely with Bexley Council.

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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods

I’ve been very lucky on my walks to explore many woodlands, whether that’s Highgate Wood, Russia Dock Woodland, Dulwich Wood or the woods in Streatham Common – they all have their own unique elements and offer a real magical perspective. You definitely get this same feeling with Lesnes Abbey Wood, as it’s probably the largest woodland I’ve walked through, given that it also has the adjacent Abbey Wood next to it. But the huge woodland area just keeps going and going, and you uncover so many different parts of it, each offering their own breathtaking sights.

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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods

You sometimes forget you’re only a short train ride into central London, as it does have that countryside feel about it. One aspect about this woodland that I really enjoyed was just how peaceful it was and that you could walk for 10-15 minutes and not walk past anyone. I’m pretty sure you could walk around the entire woodland and still not discover everything, although, it’s sometimes quite hard to differentiate parts of the woodland as they all look so pretty!

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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods
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Lesnes Abbey Woods

I’ll now head out of the woodland to something of a historical gem which lies just outside of Lesnes Abbey Wood. When you walk down the path you see quite a few old stones and walls, but as you look more closer it’s the ruins of an old structure.

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Lesnes Abbey

This piece of architectural brilliance is the remains of the old Lesnes Abbey, which is where the woodlands name derives from. After the Norman Conquest of 1066, the estate of Lesnes was owned by Bishop Odo, the half-brother of William the Conqueror and who was one of the most powerful men in Norman England. Lesnes Abbey was built by Richard de Luci in 1178. De Luci was the Chief Justiciar of England under Henry II, and it’s rumoured that he founded the abbey in repentance for his role in the murder of Thomas Becket. By 1525 it would become dissolved by cardinal Wolsey, which was partly due to the wider dissolution of monasteries in England. After this the monastic buildings were all pulled down, except for the lodging area.

In 1930 the London County Council bought the site and opened it to the public as a park. In 1986 control passed to the London Borough of Bexley. Today only the foundations of the ancient monument remain and they give you a real sense of what the abbey must’ve looked like. The walls stand at 2.5m (9ft) high and were built from a mix of flint, chalk and Kentish ragstone. The western part of the old abbey includes the foundations of a brewhouse, kitchen and cellarer’s store. The eastern part of the ruins includes a sacristy, parlour, chapter house, porter undercroft and warming house.

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Lesnes Abbey
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Lesnes Abbey
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Lesnes Abbey
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Lesnes Abbey
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Lesnes Abbey
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Lesnes Abbey
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Lesnes Abbey

This is the first time on my walks that I’ve discovered the old ancient ruins of a building, as many of the churches I’ve walked past are still in use. Also, quite rarely, you’re able to freely walk through them and touch the stone walls and former abbey structures. Walking around it you can only imagine what it used to look like and its grand nature. If you love your historical landmarks, this is definitely worth a visit, as it has such a quirk and uniqueness about it, given that it’s only part of a landmark. It’s really amazing that this site has protected status, as it’s such a wonderful sight, and I’m sure you’d agree it would be terrible to see it removed.

There are a few photos online which provide an illustration of what the abbey looked like, and it’s such a spectacular sight, and so beautiful. It’s actually quite a shame that the abbey was pulled down, but the remains of it do mean that a part of it is still there for us to enjoy.

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The old Lesnes Abbey (Source: Visit Lesnes)

I’m now going to leave the Lesnes Abbey and whilst you walk out of it you get a stunning view of the woodland area once you exit the park, which highlights the scale of just how big it is.

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Lesnes Abbey

On my way to join the Thames Path I go through Birchmere Park in Thamesmead, which was a town created as part of the Greater London Council’s ‘new town’ plans, and was built over the former Erith marshes. The masterplan dates back to 1967, and was the only New Town development in Greater London. Designed to accommodate 60,000 people, Thamesmead was to have its own amenities, industry and centre with substantial areas of parkland, lakes and canals to provide a varied landscape. Today, the lake is very popular for fishing and there’s also a really cute river running through the residential area of the town.

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Thamesmead
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Thamesmead
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Thamesmead
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Thamesmead

I’d certainly love this pretty river in my neighbourhood and does remind me of many of my walks through the Regent’s Canal especially through Little Venice, Shoreditch and Mile End.

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Thamesmead
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Thamesmead
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Thamesmead

My journey now takes me to the Thames Path, as I make my way to Woolwich and the Thames Barrier. The walk on this part along the Thames really opens your eyes as to just how vast the area of the river is when you head outside of the centre of London. I think we normally think of the River Thames as being associated with areas like the Southbank, but it’s a pretty long stretch of water and does go on for quite some distance!

Opposite the path is North Greenwich and Beckton, and the areas are known for their high pylons as well as trading ports. Also in the far distance there are many wind turbines, which are the perfect location as they’re in a really deserted area. The view I’d admit isn’t the most picturesque you’ll see, but it does give you a flavour of a vibrant trading area where boats offload their cargo.

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The Thames Path
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The Thames Path
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The Thames Path
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The Thames Path
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The Thames Path
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The Thames Path
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The Thames Path

Walking along the path I reach my next destination of Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. The Royal Arsenal carried out armaments manufacturing, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces. It was originally known as the Woolwich Warren, given that the land it was once on was a domestic warren in the grounds of a Tudor house. A lot of the area’s history is linked to the Board of Ordnance, which was a British Government body. They purchased the warren in the late 17th Century in order to expand an earlier base at Gun Wharf in the Woolwich Dockyard.

The next two centuries saw a growth in operations and innovations, and as a result the site expanded massively. At the time of the First World War the Arsenal covered 1,285 acres (520 hectares) and employed nearly 80,000 people. However, after this its operations were scaled down and the factory would finally close in 1967.  The Ministry of Defence moved out in 1994, which would ultimately see the Royal Arsenal cease to be a military establishment.

Walking through the area today it’s an impressive housing complex of modern living and leisure space. There are reminders of the military days with a number of cannons located throughout the complex. It’s great to see that these cannons have been restored and put on display, as it’s very important that we don’t forget the past of these areas. Even though they’ve changed so much and the modern architecture is now a major part of the area, you want to know the history and background when you walk through it.

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Royal Arsenal, Woolwich
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Royal Arsenal, Woolwich
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Royal Arsenal, Woolwich

One cool and eye-catching piece of architecture is this art installation known as ‘Assembly’ which has been there since 2001 and is right next to the Royal Arsenal Woolwich pier. The 16 cast iron statues were designed by Peter Burke – and they’re quite mysterious and scary to be honest, but excellent at the same time!

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Royal Arsenal, Woolwich – Assembly

Behind the statues there’s the old Riverside Guard Rooms, which has Grade II listed status.

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Royal Arsenal, Woolwich

Taking a stroll along the Thames you come to the south pier of the Woolwich Ferry which began operating in 1889. The ferry links Woolwich to North Greenwich and runs every 5-10 minutes throughout the week and every 15 minutes on the weekends. Around two million passengers use it every year, which includes pedestrians, cyclist, cars, vans and lorries. With all the bridges in London which allow us to cross the Thames, once you go past Tower Bridge there aren’t anymore bridges to cross over, so this is one of the only methods to get from one side of the Thames to the other.

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Woolwich Ferry
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Woolwich Ferry

I couldn’t help record the ferry crossing from one side to the other as it’s very pleasing to watch!

I also did a short timelapse video, as the ferry is very slow as you can see!

My journey will conclude at perhaps one of the most important structures in the modern era, the Thames Barrier. The barrier prevents most of Greater London from being flooded from exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the North Sea. It was completed in 1982 and opened in 1984. It closes during high tide and opens during low tide to restore the river’s flow towards the sea. It’s located east of the Isle of Dogs on the northern bank of Silvertown in Newham and on the south bank of New Charlton in Greenwich.

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The Thames Barrier

The history of barrier dates back to a report by Sir Hermann Bondi on the North Sea flood of 1953 – which was a major flood to hit England, Scotland, Belgium and Holland – killing 2,551 people. This flood affected parts of the Thames Estuary and parts of London, and played a significant factor in the barrier being planned.

The concept of rotating gates was devised by Reginald Charles Draper who constructed a working model of a barrier in 1969. The barrier was designed by Rendel, Palmer and Tritton for the Greater London Council and was tested at the Hydraulics Research Station near Oxford. A site at New Charlton was chosen because of its straightness of riverbanks and as a result of the underlying river chalk being strong enough for the barrier. Construction of the barrier began in 1974 and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May 1984. The barriers cost £534 million (£1.6 billion today), with an additional £100 million for river defences.

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The Thames Barrier

The barriers are built across a 520 metre (1,706 ft) wide stretch of the river with all the gates made of steel. The gates are filled with water when they submerge and empty as they emerge from the river. Each of the four large central gates are 20.1 metres (66ft) high and weigh 3,700 tonnes each.

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The Thames Barrier
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The Thames Barrier

I’ve explored many parts of London and still have a number of areas which are on my lists of walks, but the Thames Barrier was always one of my top priorities and on the day I did this walk it was first time I’d actually been to it. It’s such an impressive and futuristic sight and you can imagine how much power and force those barriers go through to stop the water. Aside from its amazing architectural design, you can’t underestimate just how crucial these barriers are to help protect Londoners and people further afield from flooding.

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The Thames Barrier
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The Thames Barrier

Well that’s all from me on today’s walk where I’ve explored a picturesque woodland wonderland, an abbey gem, the fascinating history of Woolwich and the remarkable sight of the Thames Barrier. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this walking adventure, and please do share your thoughts in the comments section.

Thanks for joining me and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!

Victoria to Green Park

Marble Arch to Mayfair

The Shard to Monument

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

Waterloo to The London Eye

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

Mile End Park to London Fields

Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens

Little Venice to Abbey Road

Regent’s Park to Soho Square

Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge

Grosvenor Gardens to Knightsbridge

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

Tower Bridge to Stave Hill

Shoreditch to Islington Green

Highgate to Finsbury Park

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs

Covent Garden to Southwark Bridge

Putney Bridge to Barnes Common

Westminster Abbey to Vauxhall Bridge

Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich Wood

Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge

Norbury Park to Tooting Commons

Sources:

All photos taken by London Wlogger unless stated © Copyright 2019

Information about Lesnes Abbey Wood

Information and photo about Lesnes Abbey

Information about Birchmere Park

Information about Royal Arsenal Woolwich

Information about the Woolwich Ferry

Information about the Thames Barrier

Norbury Park to Tooting Commons: Strolling in Woods, Parks and Commons

A lovely welcome to you and it’s my pleasure to be able to take you on my next walking adventure of our wonderful capital. Today’s journey will take me across South London as I begin in Norbury Park. From there I’ll stroll to the sublime Streatham Common and its picturesque Rookery Gardens, before ending my walk in Tooting Commons.

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Norbury Park to Tooting Commons

I begin my walk in the quaint Norbury Park, which is located between Croydon and Streatham. In 1935, the site was purchased by Croydon Corporation from a local builder, with the land formerly used as the North Surrey Golf Course, which dated back to 1920.

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Norbury Park

The site used to be purely fields, as documented on the Thomas Bainbridge map of 1800. It also indicated that the fields were owned by Pembroke College – however on 25 December 1934 the college’s lease to the golf course expired. In 1955, a school was developed right next to the park, which would become Norbury Manor Girls – opening in 1958. The site today is occupied by Norbury Park Business & Enterprise College of Girls.

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Norbury Park
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Norbury Park
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Norbury Park

The Ordnance Survey in 1955 indicated that on the east end of the park there were 11.5 acres allocated to allotments. There are still allotments there today, which really add a touch of distinction to the park’s surroundings. There’s something really interesting about an allotment, perfect for your own little bit of garden oasis if you don’t have the space for it at home. It’s also quite a personal thing I find, as you spend plenty of time, care and effort trying to grow your vegetables or look after plants. Beside the park you’ll find the Norbury Brook, which is a tributary of the River Wandle, and it’s ever so peaceful hearing its trickles of water. You’re never too far away from a river when you’re in a London park!

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Norbury Park
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Norbury Park
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Norbury Park

It wasn’t until 1956 that the park was officially named Norbury Park when the pavilion was constructed, with a play area being added to the park in 1969. The park nicely provides a mix of the natural wonders and recreational use. A quirky and unique feature is its BMX track, which definitely makes it one of the coolest parks in London!

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Norbury Park
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Norbury Park

I’m now going to make my way out of Norbury Park and stroll to my next destination, Streatham Common. An ancient common, it used to be the land of the Manor of South Streatham on which the manorial tenants had the right to graze their cattle and gather fuel. In 1362, Edward of Woodstock, known in history as the Black Prince, granted the Manor of South Streatham the Common.

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Streatham Common
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Streatham Common

In 1884, the Metropolitan Board of Works paid £5 to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Lords of the Manor of South Streatham, for the 66 acres (26.7 hectares) of common land in order to preserve it as a public open space. The eastern part of the Common was allowed to grow into a wonderful woodland area. The Board also planted trees to maintain the rural aspects of the Common, so there were huge benefits of them owning the area. The ownership of the Common would be relinquished by The Board with control being taken over by the London County Council in 1896 – with control passing to the Greater London Council in 1965 and finally the London Borough of Lambeth in 1971.

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Streatham Common
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Streatham Common
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Streatham Common

Right at the top of the common there is a formal garden known as The Rookery, which was formerly part of the grounds of the large manor that housed visitors to one of Streatham’s historic mineral wells. In the 18th Century crowds would visit Streatham to take the waters, as they were believed to have healing powers. The Rookery’s name derives from the large house that stood close to the wells. The house was demolished after the surrounding grounds were purchased by the London County Council, which resulted in it being landscaped with the gardens created – eventually being opened to the public in 1913. The area is now managed by the Streatham Common Community Garden which encourages community food growing as one of its many initiatives.

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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common

Whilst walking through the area it’s so tranquil, and reminds me so much of Holland Park, which has a similar garden in it. You can also immediately tell that a grand estate was on this site and that there were a large area of grounds. One thing I’ve noticed on all my walks, is that even though London has parks, woods, rivers, green spaces and natural beauty, there aren’t too many gardens like this, which does surprise me, given the history of the capital having many estates and Royal status. One thing I need to try and do is track down more of these secret gardens as they’re so pretty!

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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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The Rookery in Streatham Common
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Streatham Common
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Streatham Common

Taking a walk outside The Rookery, you enter a lovely open green space, and whilst you head towards the top of the hill you get to a real marvellous sight as you come across the Common’s breath-taking and enchanting woodland. With all of its trees, plants and cute pathways that lead you to hidden wonders, it reminds me of many of the woods I’ve explored before, such as Highgate Wood, Russia Dock Woodland and Dulwich Wood. You feel like you’re in the countryside and when the sun is shining (which it was on the day I explored it!), it really lightens and brightens up the scenic areas, bringing out all the golden colours. There aren’t too many places that perfectly combine a Common of open space, recreational areas, a glorious garden and a woodland like Streatham Common. Whatever your nature needs, Streatham Common has them sorted for you!

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Streatham Common Woodland
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Streatham Common Woodland
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Streatham Common Woodland
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Streatham Common Woodland
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Streatham Common Woodland
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Streatham Common Woodland

My final destination on my walking adventure today as a leave Streatham Common is Tooting Commons, which consist of two adjacent areas of common land lying between Balham, Streatham and Tooting – these are known as Tooting Bec Common and Tooting Graveney Common. Tooting Bec Common is in the parish of Streatham, whereas Tooting Graveney Common is in the parish of Tooting. Did you know Tooting Bec Common was also known as Tooting Heath?! The boundary between the two commons followed a watercourse called the York Ditch, which was a tributary of the Falcon Brook.

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Tooting Commons
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Tooting Commons

Up until the late 19th Century the neighbouring areas were predominately rural land, with the Commons mainly agricultural rather than recreational. The areas had animals grazing out on them from the local farms as well as wild fruit being grown there. As the years progressed and London’s metropolis began to get more populated, the agricultural grounds gave way to recreational facilities, such as a tennis court, bowling green, football pitch, a sailing boat pond and a tearoom.

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Tooting Commons
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Tooting Commons

Tooting Bec Common comprises of nearly 152 acres (62 hectares) and was one of the first commons owned by The Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), which they purchased in 1875. Likewise Tooting Graveney Common was acquired by The MBW in 1875 – and is smaller than Tooting Bec, with a size of 66 acres (27 hectares). The Commons were transferred to the London County Council (later the Greater London Council) and then from the GLC to Wandsworth Borough Council in 1971.

The Commons are another fine example of the glorious open green space that we enjoy in London, and it’s quite a distinctive feature of South London these Commons, as we also enjoy others including Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common too.

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Tooting Commons
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Tooting Commons
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Tooting Commons

Well that’s all from me folks on this walk discovering South London’s finest, including Norbury Park, Streatham Common and its picturesque Rookery, and finishing at the tremendous Tooting Commons. It’s a walk which has seen me be lucky enough to stroll through parks, commons, woodland and gardens!

Thanks for joining me and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!

Victoria to Green Park

Marble Arch to Mayfair

The Shard to Monument

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

Waterloo to The London Eye

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

Mile End Park to London Fields

Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens

Little Venice to Abbey Road

Regent’s Park to Soho Square

Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge

Grosvenor Gardens to Knightsbridge

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

Tower Bridge to Stave Hill

Shoreditch to Islington Green

Highgate to Finsbury Park

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs

Covent Garden to Southwark Bridge

Putney Bridge to Barnes Common

Westminster Abbey to Vauxhall Bridge

Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich Wood

Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger © Copyright 2019

Information about Norbury Park: London Gardens Online

Information about Streatham Common and The Rookery: Friends of Streatham Common

Information about Tooting Common: Friends of Tooting Common

Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge: Discovering Wandsworth and Battersea

Why hello there, and thanks for joining me on my next expedition of London. Today’s journey will see me explore south of the capital, as I begin at the iconic Clapham Junction station, take a stroll through Wandsworth Common and Wandsworth Bridge, before passing by Battersea Railway Bridge, and concluding at Battersea Bridge. It’s a walking adventure which has everything you love in London – the Thames, bridges, and parks!

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Clapham Junction to Battersea Bridge

I start my walk at Clapham Junction train station, which is actually technically based in Battersea.  Before there was a railway, the area was rural, and was known for growing lavender, which is where the street name outside the station, ‘Lavender Hill’ derives from. There was a coach road from London to Guildford near where the south part of the station is now located.

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Clapham Junction Station

On 21 May 1838 the London and South Western Railway was formed after the merging of the London and Southampton Railway, which lead to the opening of the line from Nine Elms to Woking. This was the first railway through the area, however, it still didn’t have a station on the site. A second line between Nine Elms and Richmond opened on 27 July 1846, and then a line opened to London Victoria in 1860. This lead to the opening of Clapham Junction on 2 March 1863 as an interchange station between the lines from London, Brighton, the South Coast, and West London.

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Clapham Junction Station

Despite being in Battersea, the station has been stated as located in Clapham. One of the reasons given for this was partly due to the railway companies trying to attract middle and upper class clientele to the site, as Clapham was seen as more fashionable than the industrial Battersea, so they used this factor for station’s name.

Clapham Junction today has about 2,000 trains passing through it every day, which is the most for any station in Europe. At peak times 180 trains per hour will pass through the stations, with 117 stopping. About 430,000 passengers during the day on weekdays will pass through the station, which still doesn’t make it the highest by volume, as Waterloo has that honour.

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Clapham Junction Station

With 17 platforms there are mainline links from London to Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the outskirts of London, as well as other parts of London via the London Overground. The station announcements are currently made by Celia Drummond and the late Phil Sayer.

As someone who uses the station on a regularly basis during peak hours, it’s a whole experience in itself, with the hustle and bustle of busy commuters, all with their own set destinations in mind, and there’s no time to stop and ponder!

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Clapham Junction Station

I’ll now leave the station to head to my next destination, Wandsworth Common. Now of course, I could hop on a train to the common which has a station right next to it, but this is a walking blog of course!

Just outside the station there’s a memorial plaque to remember those who lost their lives in the Clapham Junction railway crash back on 12 December 1988, when three trains collided with each other, killing 35 people and injuring 484.

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Clapham Junction Crash Memorial

Walking from there I head to the 69.43 hectare (171.6 acres), Wandsworth Common, which is a real south London gem of natural wonders and recreation. Back in the 1860s with the expansion of London, its railways, and the 4th Earl of Spencer selling off parts of the Common, there was demand to protect the area. This resulted in the Wandsworth Common Act 1871 being created to help ensure its future was secure.

After the creation of the London County Council (LCC) in 1890, which became the owner of the Common, it would turn the rubbish-strewn unkempt space, into the island of tranquility that we see today. In 1965 the LCC became the GLC, and the ownership of Wandsworth Common was handled by Wandsworth Borough Council. In addition to its own Act of Parliament, The Commons Act 2006 also ensures its safeguarding. The Common is split into twelve separate sections, and includes everything from an area for football, cricket and rugby, a playground, trees and plants, as well as a large lake.

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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common

Wandsworth Common is classed as a site of importance, so much so it has a Grade 1 status for nature conservation. It includes nine different ecological habitats, which cover grassland, woodlands, meadows, trees, plantation, amphibian wetland, and the pond and lakes.

The grassland throughout the Common is ideal for wild flowers, butterflies, grasshoppers, and other insects, and the tiny holes in the ground provide a solitary residence for bees.

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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common

There are a number of woodland areas whilst you walk through the vast space of the Common, which are a perfect place for grasses, shrubs, mosses, wild flowers, and plants to thrive. As well as the plants, the woodlands are a great habitat for beetles, centipedes, birds, and bats to enjoy.

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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common

One of the distinct elements of the Common is its water oasis which is teeming with life – from ducks and geese, to pond skaters and dragonflies, and fish and newts. It’s somewhere that covers every facet of nature and everything you could wish for to help all creatures and plants to survive and thrive. Being someone who loves being in the great outdoors and always loves exploring natural beauty like this, it’s refreshing and exciting to know that as time goes on, these essential areas are kept and maintained so splendidly.

This area does remind me of my walk to the neighbouring Clapham Common which has the perfect beautiful combination of ponds, green space, and trees too.

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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common
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Wandsworth Common

It’s time to leave Wandsworth Common and head down the long Trinity Road to my next stop, Wandsworth Bridge. The first bridge on the site was a toll bridge built by Julian Tolme in 1873, in the expectation that once the Hammersmith and City Railway terminus was built there would be an increase in the number of people wanting to cross over the river at this part along the Thames.

However, the railway terminus was never built and drainage problems made it difficult for vehicles to cross, which ultimately made Wandsworth Bridge commercially unsuccessful. As a result in 1880 it was taken into public ownership and the toll was removed. Although in 1926 a Royal Commission suggested that it should be replaced as it was too weak and narrow for buses.

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Wandsworth Bridge
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Wandsworth Bridge

Just over ten years later the bridge was demolished, and replaced with a steel cantilever bridge designed by Sir Thomas Peirson Frank, which opened in 1940, and is the bridge we see today. When it was opened it was painted in dull shades of blue as a camouflage against air raids, and this colour has remained ever since.

The length of the bridge is 650ft (200m), with a width of 60ft (18m). It proceeds Fulham Railway Bridge and follows Battersea Railway Bridge, and is one of the busiest bridges in London with over 50,000 vehicles a day going over it. It’s been given the name by many as being one of London’s most boring bridges, but I don’t buy that as I really love the colour of it as it compliments the blue of the river and the sky nicely.

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View from Wandsworth Bridge
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View from Wandsworth Bridge

Walking beyond Wandsworth Bridge along the Battersea Reach apartment complex, you walk past The Tidal Thames planting project which is a series of plants that were laid out near the river banks in 2005 when the complex was developed. Amongst this and across the Thames you’ll find an array of fish, birds, creatures, insects, and plants.

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Along the Battersea Reach

Whilst I stroll along the river towards Battersea Railway Bridge I pass this helipad and was lucky enough to see the helicopter landing, which was a pretty surreal experience!

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Along the Battersea Reach

The walk takes me to the second of the three bridges that I’ll discover on my walk, Battersea Railway Bridge. Designed by William Baker, who was the chief engineer of the London and North Western Railway, the bridge opened on 2 March 1863 at a cost of £87,000 (£8.2m in today’s money). The bridge is 754ft (230m) in length, with a width of 34ft (10.5m), and carries two railway tracks on it which lead into Imperial Wharf station.

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Battersea Railway Bridge

Consisting of five 120ft (37m) lattice girder arches set on stone piers, the bridge has been strengthened and refurbished twice – once in 1969 and again in 1992. The bridge was given the honour of Grade II listed status in 2008 to protect it from unsympathetic development. I personally really like Battersea Railway Bridge, especially the colour and cross design, something very satisfying and aesthetically pleasing about it. Also I find the fact that neither cars nor pedestrians can go across it adds to its uniqueness, as there aren’t too many bridges in London which are specifically for trains.

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Battersea Railway Bridge

I’ll now keep walking along the river onto my final sight on my walk, Battersea Bridge. Like with the original Wandsworth Bridge, the first Battersea Bridge was also a toll bridge, and was commissioned by John, Earl Spencer, who’d recently acquired the rights to operate a ferry on the Thames. There were plans to build the bridge out of stone, however, this was deemed to be too expensive, so a cheaper wooden one was built instead. The original bridge was designed by Henry Holland and only opened to pedestrians in 1771, and then to vehicle traffic in 1772.

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Battersea Bridge

Unfortunately, the bridge was poorly designed, and quite dangerous for those passing over it, as well as ships and boats who would often collide with it! Iron girders were installed, in addition to removing two piers from it to avoid the ships from colliding with it. It was in fact the last surviving wooden bridge on the Thames despite all its problems, and has inspired many artists including J. M. W. Turner, John Sell Cotman, and James McNeill Whistler to paint about it.

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Battersea Bridge

The bridge would be taken into public ownership in 1879, before being demolished in 1885. It was replaced with the structure we see today, which was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, and built by John Mowlem & Co. It’s the narrowest of London’s bridges, and surprisingly one of the least busy, though I certainly didn’t feel that when I was on it!

The golden colouring of the bridge makes it really distinctive and eye-catching – and I personally love the lamp posts on it too, which adds a great deal of character to it. Whilst standing on the bridge you can see The Albert Bridge as well as Battersea Park and The Shard.

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View from Battersea Bridge

Well that’s all from me on this expedition of the capital, which has seen me explore some of the iconic bridges of south London, as well as one of the busiest railway stations in Europe and a captivating common. What are your memories of Wandsworth and Battersea? Have you explored them recently? Share your thoughts in the comments section, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for joining me and in the meantime you can follow all my walks on Twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too so you don’t miss a post! Also why not have a read of my other walks which explore all over London, from north to south, to west to east via central, there’s something there for you! 🙂 Here are the links to them all below for you!

Victoria to Green Park

Marble Arch to Mayfair

The Shard to Monument

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

Waterloo to The London Eye

St Paul’s Cathedral to Moorgate

Mile End Park to London Fields

Hyde Park Corner to Italian Gardens

Little Venice to Abbey Road

Regent’s Park to Soho Square

Clapham Common to The Albert Bridge

Grosvenor Gardens to Knightsbridge

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

Tower Bridge to Stave Hill

Shoreditch to Islington Green

Highgate to Finsbury Park

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs

Covent Garden to Southwark Bridge

Putney Bridge to Barnes Common

Westminster Abbey to Vauxhall Bridge

Crystal Palace Park to Dulwich Wood

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger © Copyright 2019

Information about Clapham Junction: Railway Wonders of the World

Information about Wandsworth Common: The Friends of Wandsworth Common

Information about Wandsworth Bridge: British History Online

Information about Battersea Railway Bridge: Know Your London

Information about Battersea Bridge: Londonist

Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs: Colourful Autumnal London

Welcome one and all as I take another stroll across the capital! For my walk today I’ll be embracing the colours of Autumn as I explore Hammersmith & Fulham and Acton to really get into the spirit of the changing of the season. I’ll begin in Ravenscourt Park, go past Acton Green Common and Acton Park before ending my journey at Wormwood Scrubs. So grab the coat, scarf and walking boots!

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Ravenscourt Park to Wormwood Scrubs Park

I start my walk in Ravenscourt Park which is an 8.3 hectare (20.5 acre) public green area in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Its origins date back to the medieval manor and estate of Palingswick (or Paddenswick) Manor which was first recorded on the site in the 12th century.  The name still has significance to the area today with a Paddenswick Road near Ravenscourt Park.

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Ravenscourt Park
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Ravenscourt Park

Back in the 13th century the Manor House within Ravenscourt Park had a moat surrounded by it which today forms part of the lake that is within the park. Whilst in the 14th century the Manor was occupied by King Edward III’s mistress Alice Perrers.

In 1650 the Manor House was rebuilt and in 1747 renamed Ravenscourt after it was sold to Thomas Corbett with the name Ravenscourt probably deriving from the raven on his coat of arms.

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The Ravenscourt House (Source: Friends of Ravenscourt Park)
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The view across the old moat today

Private owner George Scott who was a builder and philanthropist bought the Ravenscourt House in 1812 and a leading landscaper by the name of Humphry Repton helped to lay down the gardens in the estate. Park plans in 1830 indicated that there were 78 houses within the park which had risen to 330 by 1845. The Ravenscourt House was also the first public library in Hammersmith in 1889.

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Ravenscourt Park

George Scott’s family sold the estate to a developer in 1887 with it being acquired by the Metropolitan Board of Works. A year later in 1888 a public park was laid out by J.J. Sexby with the management of the park transferring to the London County Council in 1889. In 1941 the building suffered severe damage during the Second World War. However, in 1965 the park was owned by the Greater London Council and finally the London Borough of Hammersmith in 1971.

The park’s café today is the old stables of the manor and is certainly one of the grandest café’s in London! The park also has a variety of facilities including football pitches, tennis & basketball courts and a playground.

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The old Manor stable is now the park’s cafe

Walking through the park you really get a sense that the season is changing with an array of beautiful colours, all of which look like a watercolour painting and many different shades of yellow, brown, red, orange and gold. When you look at the vast area of the park as well as the lake which used to be the Manor’s moat, you can get a feeling of how the grand estate would’ve looked. The lake is something to behold and matched with the trees colours, it makes for the perfect picture, or painting!

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Ravenscourt Park
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Ravenscourt Park
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Ravenscourt Park
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Ravenscourt Park
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Ravenscourt Park
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Ravenscourt Park

It’s now time to leave the tranquility of Ravenscourt Park to go in search of more pretty autumnal colours in my next stop Acton Green Common. Located next to Turnham Green tube station, the 5.9 hectare (14.5 acres) common is quite unique given that it’s split into two, with a road and crossing in between it.

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Acton Green Common
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Acton Green Common

The Acton Green Common has a place in history as part of the site of the Battle of Brentford during the Civil War when on the 12th November 1642 the Royalists under Prince Rupert surprised them and beat the Parliamentarian army under Lord Essex.

I do love the symmetry where you have trees either side of the pathway and as far as you can see there are trees across the green. Once again the crisp orange colouring comes out perfectly with the sun shining on them which really does brighten up the park. Also the lengthening shadows illustrates the sun is getting lower and winter is on its way.

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Acton Green Common
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Acton Green Common

I’m now going to make my way out of Acton Green Common and onto yet another lovely green space, Acton Park. One aspect you get when walking around Acton is that the trees aren’t just confined to the parks as they can be seen across the roads and houses!

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Acton Symmetry

Acton Park first opened to the public in 1888 as a commemoration to the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria and in 1945 the park’s allotments were converted into temporary houses for ex-servicemen.

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Acton Park
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Acton Park

In London we’re so lucky that nearly every area has some kind of green space where you can relax in the peace and quiet of a park setting. Also it’s not just the grass areas which I love, but the variety of trees are also so remarkable, big ones, tall ones, small ones, thin ones, the list is endless and all have their own distinct look and personality. You really don’t get this when you walk around some areas of central London, so you do have to go off track into the London boroughs to see all of natures glory.

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Acton Park
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Acton Park

It’s now time to leave Acton Park and move onto my final autumnal destination, the quite unique Wormwood Scrubs! Based in the North-Eastern corner of Hammersmith & Fulham, the area is the largest open space in the borough at 80 hectares (200 acres) and is one of the largest commons in London.

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Wormwood Scrubs
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Wormwood Scrubs

The park has been open to the public since 1879 and was even the home of Queens Park Rangers Football Club in the late 1888s.

Its history dates back to the early 19th century when the entire district of Hammersmith & Fulham was open fields with several areas of common land. In 1812 a 77 hectare (190 acre) area known as Wormholt Scrubs was leased by the War Office from the Manor of Fulham. The area was used to exercise cavalry horses which until then had used Hyde Park, Belgrave Square and Regent’s Park. In 1878, 55 hectares (135 acres) of the land became known as Wormwood Scrubs after being bought by the War Office.

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Wormwood Scrubs

In order to create metropolitan exercising ground for the military, in 1879 Parliament passed the Wormwood Scrubs Act. This act enabled the military to expel civilians from the area whenever they were training, but allowed civilians free use of it when they were not. The military were banned from building any permanent structures other than rifle butts on the open land.

The area gained the reputation of being one of the duelling grounds of London with several duels being fought there. The scrubland played a part in the 1908 Olympics with the marathon’s final stages going through it on the route from Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium in White City.

In 1910 Wormwood Scrubs gained a significant contribution in aviation history when pioneering airships took flight from an improvised landing ground. Four years later in 1914 all air related activities on the scrubs passed to the authority of the Admiralty with the area remaining an emergency landing ground until the 1930s. During the Second Wold War, the scrubs hosted the military department called The Chief Cable Censorship Department, an outstation of the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park.

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Wormwood Scrubs

Back in 1986 local birdwatcher Lester Holloway set up a campaign to save Scrubs Wood which was under threat from plans by British Rail to turn it into a cleaning depot. The campaign would succeed with an area of the nature reserve known as ‘Lester’s Embankment’ in 1987.

There has been many conservation efforts undertaken on the area with the park home to over 100 species of birds, 250 species of wildflowers, bats and lizards.

The entire area really is something to behold, as it’s a vast area of meadowland with hardly anything around it, there aren’t too many trees or houses, just scrubland and long grass. I have to say it’s one of the first times my walks have taken me to such a place and it’s eerily quiet when you’re stood in the middle of it as there’s literally no one walking through or by it. This is one of the reason why I love exploring London as you come across such weird and wonderful places like this which you’d not normally come across, or even know about.

Well that’s all from me today folks! I hope you enjoyed discovering some of West London’s best green areas which showcased the colours of autumn so amazingly well, which I’m sure you can agree are looking absolutely golden at the moment! I’ll be discovering more of beautful autumnal London next time!

In the meantime you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too and have a read of my other walks, from river ones to park ones, there’s something there for you! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger unless stated. © Copyright 2018

Friends of Ravenscourt Park: History of Ravenscourt Park

Parks and Gardens: History of Acton Green Common

Ealing.Gov: History of Acton Parks

London Borough of H&F: History of Wormwood Scrubs