I got to finish section 1 of the Capital Ring today or should I say, do the vast majority of it, due to getting horribly lost last time I attempted it. I had got so lost, I only, once back on track, managed to get as far as the gate to Maryon Park (which is not far), so that’s where I started this time.
Section 1 is basically just a string of public parks / spaces that get progressively more interesting as you go. Maryon Park, for example, was nice enough but quite suburban, Maryon Wilson Park (the park next door) had a little children’s zoo with hens and was just generally a bit prettier, although nothing to really take photos of.
Next up was Charlton Park, now Charlton Park was really confusing, not the park itself but the Capital Ring map, I don’t know, I just don’t think the instructions are very good for section 1 because yes, I sort of got lost again. Okay, I will fully admit that I am a c**p map reader, my dad, who is the proper walker of the family, thinks it’s hilarious that I managed to walk 4 km the wrong way down the Thames last week, without realising it but argh, Capital Ring could be making it a little easier. For the record I have managed to complete sections 7 to 15 with only getting seriously lost twice and that was in section 10, around the lovely Fryent Park because some of the Capital Ring signage was hidden behind bushes! I think if I had actually started the Capital Ring on section 1, I would have been far less willing to do section 2! The problem, I think, with the instructions on the .pdf for section 1 is that at the beginning, going west on the Thames Path is far more convoluted and around the houses than the instructions make out and once you get to the string of parks that make up the rest of the section, you have to be very reliant on the signs rather than the written instructions because the instructions just devote a sentence or two to each park, so if you miss a sign and take a wrong turning in one of the parks, you’re a bit screwed (and the signs aren’t always brilliant).
So, I was in Charlton Park with the print out of the .pdf clutched in my sweaty little hand and although light on instruction, it did have various bits about the history behind the landmarks that you’re meant to be passing and there was a bit on the .pdf about Charlton House, so I’m walking through the park expecting to see Charlton House at any moment, except I didn’t. So I get to the park’s exit and I’m a bit confused plus I can’t see any more Capital Ring signs, so I assume that I must have made a catastrophic wrong turning somewhere. So I pull out my phone and get my maps app on screen, the next bit of the instructions say I need to make a turning at Inigo Jones Road, so I stick that in the app and follow the directions to try and get back on track. Except this is the part where I’m an idiot because my maps app plots me a route but I turn and head in the wrong direction (sound familiar?) but I think I’m going the right direction because I’m still following that blue line on my app, me not realising that the app is frantically trying to recalculate the route each time it’s idiot owner walked further away from the destination. But I think I’m going the right direction because although the Capital Ring signs have disappeared, there’s still Green Chain signs (the Green Chain is another walking route which shares some of its paths with the Capital Ring), so I think that they’ve just been lazy with the Capital Ring signs or something. Anyway, at least it only took me a kilometre (not four) this time to realise that I was going the wrong bloody direction (again). So I head back in the direction I came, actually properly following my phone’s instructions to Inigo Jones Road this time and guess what, I think that I must have probably come out of the right exit from Charlton Park because when I compared the route to Inigo Jones Road (once I was walking in the right direction) it did match up to the .pdf’s instructions. It’s just I was so suspicious, thanks to the complete lack of Charlton House and the complete lack of Capital Ring signs at what would have been a helpful junction, I thought that I’d come out of the wrong exit, sigh.
Never have I, therefore, been more desperate to get to the next park on the list, Hornfair Park, which was very suburban, it turns out and nothing to write home about but the next open space, Woolwich Common was lovely and it was the first time I took out my camera.
After Woolwich Common it was Castle Wood which lead up to Severdroog Castle, which was rather nice.
And the view coming down the hill afterwards was even lovelier.
You then walk through some more park and woodland before coming out at Oxleas Meadows which had an even more stunning view.
Then it was into quite a bit more woodland (which was nice, you can’t beat woodland, especially on a hot day) before finally coming to the end of the section at Falconwood.
So, in my opinion, this section requires perserverance and obviously better map reading skills than I have (not hard) and it is a little dull at the beginning but ooh, the views near the end are worth it.