Saturday, 26 November 2011

Walk #1: Capital Ring Segment 8

Monday, November 14th/2011

Our first "official" walk of this trip was the 8th segment of the Capital Ring, starting from the Boston Manor station. Our actual path can be seen on the map linked here:
Garmin Connect - Capital Ring Segment 8

The official name of this segment is "Osterley Lock to Greenford". The distance is given as 4.8 miles, but we added considerable distance with extra forays to pubs (our final distance was 6.76 miles).

lovely walks beside a bucolic canal with well-preserved locks;

and the nearby pub, The Fox; absolutely immense train viaduct (almost on the scale of the pyramids, well maybe not quite.....).

Next, you walk through a lovely open area with a small animal park (note the very large and spacious budgie aviary!). Following the River Brent, you pass shrubby lanes and golf courses. The official walk ends in a suburban area as you make your way to Greenford Station, to make your way home. However, we made a detour to a pub called "The Black Horse",

right next to the canal and named after one of the horses who, in days gone by, would have towed the boats. A very lovely black-and-gold narrow boat was moored on the pathway right next to the pub's garden.

Canals would become a recurring theme on this year's walk, so our stop at this pub seemed appropriate!

NEXT: Amersham to Great Missenden (not a Capital Ring or London Loop walk)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Rambles in England 2 - Surprises and Gifts Along the Way

The little (and big) surprises one encounters along the way in a ramble enrich the experience and memories. Sometimes the small wonders are the ones with lasting impact. Encountered on our recent foray into the Capital Ring and London Loop:


Mushrooms in an Arthurian beech wood.

Mossy tree toes!          

...and fauna:

Friendly donkeys along the way....

....and the surprising (and disturbing) large flocks of wild green rose-ringed parakeets descended from escaped pets! Unfortunately, they are really becoming a problem, having no natural predators in the UK and taking over habitats from native species.

Finding the very small and almost hidden gravestone of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal's young daughter Olivia who died tragically of measles encephalitis at age seven....
            a small, out-of-the-way graveyard in a small village. There was also a medieval-inspired statue dedicated to her in the nearby church. Very peaceful, very moving...there were miniature yellow roses blooming next to the stone. Next door, small children played in the yard of a day care....

Finding the quintessentially perfect British country pub - the Fox.
British real ale finishes its fermentation in the cask, and so has rich flavour, but not as high alcohol content as American microbrews. Sorry, but I'm going to get on my soapbox for a minute the US, microbrews can have an alcohol content of up to 10%, and are rarely below 6%. In the UK, they average from 3.5% to about 5% and are just as tasty.  Drinking a few half-pints of the latter spaced out throughout the day leave you content and not a bit tipsy. One pint of high-alc American brew and you're shlurring your shpeech! Why does it have to be so potent?
                                                                             ...end of rant.

Other pleasures -  the kindness of friends;
the beautiful weather (cool, usually clear, a bit of mist sometimes); abundant and delicious vegan food readily available; the Ashmolean museum in Oxford; great bookstores;  friends; Camden Market, etc., etc.

NEXT: Details of the Walks

Photos courtesy Mike Ethier.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Rambles in England 1: The Many Paths of the Ring and Loop

We've been visiting England (especially the London area) for several years now, enjoying the fact that walking is taken seriously there!
 Circling London are two great rings of connected walking paths, the 75 miles (15 segments) of the Capital Ring
Friends of the Capital Ring

And the 150 miles (24 segments) of the London Loop.
London Loop
We've been systematically working through the many segments of these grand circle tours. They are generally well-signed (but not always, be warned!) and pass through a variety of landscapes and trail types:



Canal Towpaths

Through parks

and villages:

and churchyards.

...but also, as necessity dictates, through urbanized areas.
We made it through about 45 miles of listed walks in our eight days there (some details to follow), as well as many, many countless miles of walking in London, Oxford and environs.

NEXT: Surprises and gifts along the way

All photos courtesy Mike Ethier