Wednesday 21st September 2011
Toilets: Platforms at Preston Road Station; Greenhouse Garden Centre (slightly off-route at Birchen Grove); public toilets in Hendon Park.
The Capital Ring is a circular urban footpath going around London, mainly through Zones 3 and 4. It contains a surprising amount of greenery and wildlife; as Londoners, I don’t think a lot of us realise what’s right on our doorsteps. I was feeling particularly blasé about this section because I consider myself to be very familiar with the areas it goes through. Okay, so I could discover plenty of new places in the bits of London that I hardly ever go to, but what new things could I possibly discover so near to where I grew up? The day turned out to be much more of a learning curve than I could have imagined.
The route started at South Kenton Station and went past the unexciting Windermere pub. We soon found ourselves in Preston Park, which was nice enough.
There followed some more walking through suburbia. If you have a travelcard, you can go into Preston Road Station to use the toilets on the platform without being charged any extra.
Just as I was starting to get bored of the suburbia, we suddenly turned into an alleyway between two houses, and found ourselves on a pretty wooded path. We then found ourselves walking through an open field with great views from the top. You can just about see Harrow on the Hill. How weird that I don’t think I’ve ever been to Barn Hill before.
We headed uphill into another wooded area. I like this hollow tree.
At the top of Barn Hill we reached a pond, where someone was fishing. The area was designed in 1793 by a landscape architect called Humphrey Repton.
At the top of the hill with the trig point, we got an amazing view of Wembley Stadium. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but the mixture of the almost-rural setting with the stadium was quite striking. I felt amazed that I’d never walked up this hill before as it’s such a great place.
We headed downhill through more woodland.
This sign near the car park points to Eldestrete, an ancient route that’s thought to date back to pre-Roman times.
After crossing the very busy Fryent Way, we found ourselves heading into Fryent Country Park. There was another view of Wembley from the top of the hill.
On the way down the hill we passed some horses at Bush Farm.
After more suburban walking, the next point of interest was St Andrews Church. It was originally built in Marylebone, and was apparently moved here in 1931, brick by brick. Seems like quite an achievement.
We took a short detour to the Greenhouse Garden Centre, which has a cafe and toilets. It was 21st September, and they were already selling Christmas trees and tinsel.
The Brent Reservoir, more commonly known as the Welsh Harp, is a beautiful place. I hadn’t been there since I was very young. An impressive amount of wildlife was found all around.
I was expecting to see different species of birds and insects amongst the wildlife, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to see huge animals like leopards. Sadly, these two had died, and their insides had spilled out all over the place. Poor things.
The tranquil calm came to an abrupt halt as we reached West Hendon, and then had to cross the extremely noisy M1. After more suburbia, we finally reached Hendon Park, which is round the corner from Hendon Central Station. There are plenty of bus routes nearby.
The Capital Ring does go through a fair amount of suburbia. It isn’t a rural walk, but then again it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s a walk through urban areas, meeting lots of green spaces along the way. It really is on our doorsteps, helping us to discover places we really should’ve known about in the first place. I doubt if I’ll do the entire South Kenton to Hendon walk again, but I’ll definitely be visiting Barn Hill and the Welsh Harp again. How lucky we are to have such amazing places so nearby.