Saturday 30th June 2012
Toilets: Norwood Grove; Rookery Gardens; Streatham Common; Pubs and cafes at Streatham; Balham Leisure Centre; Pubs and cafes in Balham; The Hope Pub at Wandsworth Common (part of the Community Toilet Scheme); Cafe at the other side of Wandsworth Common; Pubs in Earlsfield and Wimbledon Park.
We decided to do two sections at once: Crystal Palace to Streatham, and Streatham to Wimbledon Park. The section from Streatham to Wimbledon Park doesn’t seem to have particularly enthusiastic reviews, saying that although there’s nothing wrong with it as such, it just doesn’t have that sparkle. Okay, so there’s quite a lot of road walking compared to some of the other sections, but they’re mainly along attractive roads, and the route does go through some lovely green spaces. Maybe we were helped along by the fact that it was a beautiful, sunny day, and finding some decent places to eat and drink, but we didn’t get anywhere near as bored as we were expecting after having read a few people’s blogs. So bear with it, and try to go on a clear day otherwise you’ll miss out on a lot of the views.
The day started by heading up hill from Crystal Palace. We walked along some roads with beautiful houses, which quickly led to me playing the “I want to live in this house” game. Through gaps in some of the houses, we could see views over the city. The route then went through Westow Park, which was very pleasant, and also had some interesting children’s playgrounds with things to climb on.
We continued along some more hilly roads, from which we had quite extensive views due to it being such a clear day.
We then got to enjoy a very short walk through Biggin Wood, a tiny remnant of the Great North Wood that originally extended for miles around. The next point of interest was the mansion at Norwood Grove, which was partly fenced off, although there were toilets in a small side building. The mansion itself appeared to be occupied by a nursery, and was surrounded by lovely gardens.
Next up was Streatham Common, with its Rookery Gardens, cafe and toilets. We had a long rest on the common and enjoyed the sunshine. It was the end of the first section, as well as lunchtime, so we took a short detour to the Earl Ferrers pub on Ellora Road, where the food was excellent and they had several local beers. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and at 2.30pm on a Saturday, there was plenty of space for us to have a late lunch. Hidden away in a back street, it was absolutely worth the detour.
The second section started with more road walking. On Conyers Road we passed a pumping station. They just don’t build them like they used to.
Most of the houses on Conyers Road were very attractive, with beautiful gardens, all except one which was a complete mess and was all boarded up. I have no idea if it was a squat or if it was just really, really neglected, but either way, it definitely stood out.
Tooting Bec Common provided us with a pleasant stroll, before more road walking led us to Balham, with Du Cane Court, an enormous 1930s block of flats.
We finally reached Wandsworth Common, where there was plenty of space to spread out for a much-needed rest in the sun. We passed The Hope pub, which had an impressive menu although we only bought a drink. They also had a notice saying that they were part of the local Community Toilet Scheme, which means you can go in to use the loo without having to buy anything.
Further along Wandsworth Common we passed a couple of ponds with boardwalks, and plenty of ducks were out enjoying the sunshine.
There was also a cafe further along the common, where we stopped to get some really, really nice ice cream. It seemed to be the sort of cafe that “yummy mummies” go to with their children.
The next bit of road walking took us past Wandsworth Prison, where Oscar Wilde was unfortunately sent. The Victorians built many attractive buildings that looked okay from the outside, but I wouldn’t want to explore it inside. Continuing down Magdalen Road, we took a small detour through Wandsworth Cemetery, which was very peaceful. The gate at the other end was very narrow, though, so anyone with wheels wouldn’t be able to fit through. From there, more road walking took us through Earlsfield, then we had a brief but pleasant walk across Durnsford Road Recreation Ground, before eventually reaching the station.
So there you have it. Streatham to Wimbledon Park does contain a lot of road walking, but do it on a sunny day and take in the green spaces, especially Wandsworth Common, which I really liked. These two sections also have the added bonus of several great pubs and places to buy good food, which is a welcome change compared to some of the previous sections. Our next section will be Wimbledon Park to Richmond, which is said to be the highlight of the Capital Ring, so we’re looking forward to it.