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  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    Woolwich to Falconwood - Capital Ring Section 1: (1 June 2013).

    Source: Capital Ring Web site: http://www.walklondon.org.uk/uploads/File/leaflets/cr1directions_20102010104554.pdf (with some modifications and enhancements).

    Start: Woolwich Arsenal or Woolwich Dockyard Stations, Woolwich Foot Tunnel.
    End: Falconwood Station.
    Distance: 12 km.
    Introduction: This is one of the longest walks on the Capital Ring but the bonus is that it has great contrasts, going from the River Thames to Oxleas Meadow, one of the highest points in the area. The route is mainly level but there are some steep slopes and two long flights of steps, both of which have detours so that they can be avoided. There is a mixture of tarmac paths, pavement, rough grass and tracks.

    There are bus stops along the way, so as this is a long section you can break your walk. There are links with the Thames Path National Trail and Green Chain Walk; in some places you may find you have to follow the Green Chain signs. There is one detour on the route which is well marked. It is hoped that eventually the route will follow the river for a longer distance. 

    Directions: From Woolwich Arsenal DLR station head northeast on Woolwich New Rd toward Spray St and turn left at Spray St. Turn right toward Beresford St. (Restricted usage road). Turn left onto Beresford St.
    Go through 1 roundabout, turn right onto Bell Water Gate and sharp left toward Woolwich Foot Tunnel. Turn sharp right onto Woolwich Foot Tunnel. (Note: the Capital Ring signposts at the entrance of the tunnel might be misleading. With your face to the river you have to LEFT and walk along the river).
    The walk starts by the southern end of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel and heads along by the River Thames towards the Thames Barrier. The Woolwich Foot Tunnel was built in 1912 and goes under the river to North Woolwich, which is the end of Section 15 of the Capital Ring. The Woolwich Free Ferry takes vehicles and foot passengers over the Thames and has been operating for over 800 years:

    Head past the two cannon that remain from the Gun Drill Battery when this area was a Naval Dockyard:

    Shortly after the cannon and past a modern estate the path reaches the flood defence wall; either climb up the Linkbridge for a good view of the Thames Barrier or use the ramp to the left. The Thames Barrier was proposed following a terrible storm in 1953 which produced a tidal surge up the river; it drowned many people and caused great damage. The barrier was completed in 1984 and its huge steel gates can be raised in 45 minutes. There is a visitor centre off Woolwich Road.

    Follow the Capital Ring signs to Woolwich Road and Maryon Park. Once in
    the park turn left up the slope, then turn right into the main part of the park. On the left is a fingerpost and beside it a map of the park. Maryon Park, and Maryon Wilson Park which is next, were once owned by the Maryon Wilson family of Charlton House. This park was formed from sandpits and another nearby sandpit is now the home of Charlton Athletic Football Club. Either bear right at the tennis courts and walk up the 115 steps or follow the alternative route on the Green Chain walk to the left of the tennis courts. Cross over Thorntree Road to Maryon Wilson Park, which was once part of the old Hanging Wood (there is a large Green Chain signpost on the opposite side of the road here). Follow the wide tarmac path past the children’s zoo:

    The next park is Charlton Park. There is a riding school on the right and
    several football pitches ahead. Turn right along the wide tarmac path - Charlton House is ahead. Charlton House in the distance was built in 1612 for Sir Adam Newton, and is one of the best examples of Jacobean architecture left in London. It was restored in 1878 by Norman Shaw for the Maryon Wilson family. There are toilets and a coffee shop here:

    Continue along Charlton Park Lane and turn left into Inigo Jones Road to
    get to Hornfair Park:

    Next go across Baker Road and head over Woolwich Common and across Shooters Hill. The Roman Watling Street crossed Shooters Hill on its way from Dover to London. The name Shooters Hill may come from gunnery practice on Woolwich Common or it may have been from the highwaymen who haunted the road. In A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, a stagecoach struggles up the muddy road of Shooters Hill. Go up the hill and into Castle Wood, part of Oxleas Woodlands. At the top is Severndroog Castle. Severndroog is an eccentric triangular castle standing 19 metres high. It was built as a memorial to Commodore Sir William James, owner of the land in the 18th century. The East India Company employed him to suppress piracy and he captured a fortress in India with this name. His widow built the castle after his death in 1784:

    To get to the rose garden of the now demolished Castlewood House, either go down 72 steps (some of which are uneven) or take the Green Chain alternative route. If you take the alternative route turn right at the junction at the bottom of the hill to reach the gardens. Further on, some steps on the left of the path lead up to the former gardens of Jackwood House. To continue along the Capital Ring, return to the path down the steps. Continue through the woodland to Oxleas Meadows where there is a cafe and toilets:

    Continue on to Oxleas Wood and cross over Rochester Way and into the ancient Shepherdleas Woods, now part of Eltham Park North:

    The last section of this walk follows a path through the trees:

    Here either turn right to cross over the road on Falconwood Bridge to get to the start of Section 2 of the Capital Ring or go on ahead to Falconwood Railway Station.

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Our following offer is of a pleasant, lazy FULL day - visiting a couple of wonderful historical sites with magnificient gardens and parks: Hall Place and Danson House.

    Our itineraries of hall House and danson House - can be combined into a very pleasant full day out of London.

    Dining out: in the steak house near Hall Place or Nando's restaurant opposite the central bus station in Bexleyheath.

    Directions:

    20 minutes walk from Bexley rail Station (zone 6). Go through Bexley High Street and ask for the "Bridge". Just off the A2 road with bustling transportation. 

    Open daily 10.00 - 17.00. 7 GBP (concessions - 5 GBP) for unlimited entry during the year. My personal impression is that you can skip visiting the house and concentrate on the stunning gardens (free). Entrance to the current exhibition in Hall Place house - free as well. 

    Nice looking cafe' on the Cray river with small waterfalls. There is a fabulous (reasonably priced) adjoining grill / steak house.

    On weekends - farmers' market in the main entrance.

    Magnificent Gardens, stunning topiariy sculptures, interesting glasshouses, sunken garden, rose beds, visitor centre with nice displays of local artists and riverside cafe', endless meadows (sometimes with wildlife).

    Allow 90 minutes - 2 hours for visiting just the gardens

    Amazing topiary of chess pieces and Queen's Beasts:

    Rose Garden:

    River Cray:

    Hall Place Cafe':

  • Nature | United Kingdom > London, United Kingdom > Highgate to Stoke Newington - Capital Ring Section 12
    Updated at Mar 16,2014

    Highgate to Stoke Newington - 1 day walk.

    Start: Highgate Station.

    End: Stoke Newington Station or Stamford Hill Station.

    Distance: 8 km.

    Source: Capital Ring web site. - http://www.walklondon.org.uk/uploads/File/leaflets/cr12directions_31052010143400.pdf

    Introduction: This section starts at Priory Gardens, near Highgate Station. Although this is a densely populated area, surprisingly this walk is one of the greenest parts of the Capital Ring. This is largely achieved by following most of the Parkland Walk - London’s longest nature reserve - along a former railway line. It is easy walking on firm paths and pavements, with a steep climb including some steps at the start; this can be avoided on an alternative route. After the Parkland Walk, the route passes through the beautiful Finsbury Park, along by the New River – created as a canal four hundred years ago - past Stoke Newington Reservoirs, into the attractive Clissold Park and finishes at the fascinating Abney Park Cemetery. There are pubs or cafés at Highgate, Crouch End Hill, Finsbury Park, Manor House, Woodberry Down, Clissold Park and Stoke Newington. Public toilets are at Finsbury Park and Clissold Park.

    Directions: From Highgate Station ticket office, take the Priory Gardens exit, follow the road around to the right, using the right hand pavement to join the Capital Ring on Priory Gardens. Turn right up a narrow footpath between house numbers 63 and 65. Follow the main path as it climbs up through Highgate Spinney, keeping close to the left edge of the wood. At the road (Shepherd’s Hill) turn right onto the main road (Archway Hill). Opposite lies the former Highgate Methodist Church, now a community centre with café and toilets. Turn left for 50 metres then left again down Holmesdale Road. Follow the left hand side of Holmesdale Road as it bears right. At the next bend, go through a gate on the left and down a steep slope to join the Parkland Walk:

    The railway line, now occupied by the Parkland Walk, ran from 1867 to 1970 from Finsbury Park to Edgware and Alexandra Palace. It is now a haven for wildlife with about 250 species of plants and the shy Muntjac deer living here. Follow the broad track ahead for the next two miles, crossing over or under several roads. At Crouch End Hill you encounter the eerie, deserted platforms of the former Crouch End Station. Continue under a bridge and on to some graffiti-covered arches:

    On the left, emerging from the brickwork, is the scary figure of a spriggan, a kind of goblin. Spriggans were grotesquely ugly, found at old ruins guarding buried treasure and generally acting as fairy bodyguards. They were also said to be busy thieves. Though usually small, they had the ability to swell to enormous size - they're sometimes speculated to be the ghosts of the old giants. They were said to steal human children and leave baby spriggans in their place. The route now passes the skateboard track of Crouch Hill Community Centre. There is a link here to Crouch Hill Station. Continue along the Parkland Walk, beside Blythwood Road, then past a grass-covered reservoir on the left at Mount Pleasant. The next bridge crosses Stapleton Hall Road. At the end of the Parkland Walk, turn left across the main East Coast railway line from London to Scotland. The link to Finsbury Park Station leads off to the right and ahead lies Finsbury Park. Cross the park's carriage drive. On the left is a café, with toilets and a picnic area. Follow the path ahead past a play area:

    At the McKenzie Pavilion building turn left to enter a more formal garden. Keep ahead to the elegant wooden shelter with seats and the Capital Ring signpost.

    At this point there is a choice of routes to Clissold Park, either on the main route beside the New River, mostly on grass or earth with a short flight of steps, or more directly – saving 1 mile (1.6km) – on a level alternative route beside roads. For the alternative route, turn right at the signpost. Follow the path across the carriage drive again and go through the ceremonial gateway, with Manor House Station nearby. Turn right across Seven Sisters Road, then left across Green Lanes. Turn right to follow Green Lanes for 400 metres, rejoining the main route by passing The Castle. The main route continues ahead at the signpost. Shortly take the central path ahead and follow this across the carriage drive again. You leave the park on to Green Lanes, one of the longest roads in London at nearly seven miles. Originally Green Lanes, a former drover’s road, was made up of separate lanes that linked a series of villages, which is why the name is plural. Cross at the lights and turn left, then go through a bright green gateway on the right to join the New River Path; the surface is a bit uneven in places. The New River is spectacularly misnamed, as it is neither new nor a river — it’s nearly four hundred years old and an ingenious artificial watercourse:

    Built at a time when fresh water for London was in very short supply, it brought water 40 miles from springs in Hertfordshire to lslington. Following a very twisting route, the gradient dropped very gradually so that gravity pulled the water along; the canal dropped two inches every mile. There was considerable opposition from local landowners and it cost a fortune, but the entrepreneur and goldsmith, Sir Hugh Myddelton, pushed it through with support from King James I. Today the ‘river’ still supplies water to the capital. You can follow the river on foot for most of the way from Hertford to lslington. There is an industrial area to the left and on the right trees, birds and the residential buildings of the massive Woodberry Down Estate. With some 50 blocks this forms the largest council housing estate in Britain:

    The route temporarily leaves the New River path to cross Seven Sisters Road, turn left to the controlled crossing, cross over, then go right to cross Amhurst Park road. Go to the right, parallel with Seven Sisters Road and watch out for the Capital Ring sign on the left. Go through a kissing gate and back onto the New River path. Walk alongside the river, passing a splendid large weeping willow tree dipping its branches into the water.

    Go up some steps and follow it across a lane. Go down the slope and on past the East reservoir, on the left, where the flowing water of the New River comes to an end. Cross Lordship Road and continue ahead beside the West reservoir, which is now a nature reserve and water sports centre. At the end, cross a footbridge and turn right along a service road. To the left is the Reservoir Café, housed in the old filtration plant. On your left is The Castle, a fine example of the imaginative recycling of a utilitarian building. The former water pumping station’s brick walls and turrets now provide a large indoor climbing centre:

    At the main road – Green Lanes, where the alternative route from Finsbury Park rejoins – follow the signs to Clissold Park. Once in the park bear half left to follow the right hand side of Beckmere and Runtzmere, the two small lakes that add to the attractiveness of Clissold Park; they are named after Joseph Beck and John Runtz, two campaigners who persuaded the Metropolitan Board of Works to buy the land and create a public park:

    Just before the second lake turn right towards Clissold House, built in the 1790s for Jonathan Hoare, a local Quaker. In front of the house is a short stretch of water which was once part of the New River that you have just followed. An interesting inscription on a drinking fountain behind the house commemorates the three daughters of Wilson Yeates, Esq., apparently aged 134 years. A closer look reveals that the sisters sadly died at the ages of one, three and four. The monument was erected by their sister, Rose Mary Crawshay. Bear half left, between the mansion and a children’s playground and follow the signs to Stoke Newington Church Street. Pass the oldest church – known as The Old Church of St Mary’s – and go along a path through the graveyard:

    The church was built in 1563 and enlarged in 1829 by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament. It was bombed in 1940 and restored soon after. Opposite is the ‘new’ Church of St. Mary's which was built in the 1850s in response to the rapid growth of the population. The Rector, the Reverend Thomas Jackson, offered the site of the old rectory and garden for a new church to be built opposite the 300 year-old Old Church. Stoke Newington attracted non-conformist Christians of all kinds; one of these was Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, who is commemorated by a local street and pub. Continue left along Church Street, passing the old Stoke Newington Town Hall, now a branch office of Hackney; it’s built on the site of Stoke Newington Manor House, 1500-1695. The route now passes through Abney Park Cemetery. To avoid the steps that lead into the cemetery continue along Stoke Newington Church Street and then turn left along Stoke Newington High Street to rejoin the route at the cemetery gate. with reception buildings, chapel and landscaping – to take a non-denominational approach with no separation between the graves of different religions; consequently there was no consecration of any part, except where individuals chose it for their plot. It’s now a very evocative site and nature reserve where over 300,000 graves have been laid since it opened in 1840; many notable people are buried here. Every path has a name and you will follow Abney House Corner, Lions’ Ride, Wilson Ride, Chapel Ride and Swayne Path. Inside the gate, take the left hand of two narrow paths leading between graves to join a wider path, where you turn left. Opposite lies the grave of William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army in 1865:

    In 200m, at a major path intersection, turn right to pass the chapel. From the chapel, continue in the same direction past another path intersection until you come to a broad, paved avenue by a sundial; follow it to the main gate. The visitor centre contains a display about the cemetery’s history. Beneath your feet lies a plaque containing Egyptian hieroglyphics, translated as ‘The great gate of the mortal part of man’. Beyond the gate, turn left along Stamford Hill and shortly after cross over at the traffic lights to reach the junction with Cazenove Road, the end of Section 12. For Stoke Newington Station turn left for 120 metres.

    In case you are still in shape, walk northward along Stamford Hill road - crossing densely-populated parts of Jewish Stoke Newington / Stamford Hill:

    On the seveth road to the right - turn right to the Ravensdale Road to stroll along an elegant road with nice-looking mansions and houses - mostly populated by the Jewish community:

    In the second right road - turn right to Leabourne Road:

    In the end of the last road turn right to the Castlewood Rd. It continues into the Clapton Common main road: an interesting, ethnic, vibrant hub of Stamford Hill. Head along Clapton Common (crossing Stamford Hill/High Rd) until you'll see (on your left) the Stamford Hill station.

  • Nature | Montenegro > Perast
    Updated at Jun 11,2013

    First we were acquainted with the amazing Bay of Kotor, with its two islands – “Our Lady of the Reef” and “Saint George” – which appeared to come closer and closer. The closest view is from Perast, so we sat down for a cup of cappuccino and gazed at the bay and the islands. 

  • Nature | South Africa > Hermanus
    Updated at Jun 19,2013

    When we stayed at Hermanus, we found out we were lucky with the whales at Gansbaai, cause  the weather was very poor in Hermanus and there was low visibility.

  • Nature | Peru > Granja Porcon
    Updated at Jun 27,2013

    The next day I went for daily tour to Porcon (http://www.go2peru.com/peru_guide/cajamarca/photo_granja_porcon.htm) , an area that in the past had been a victim of deforestation, and in the last 20 years had been going though reforestation and now it's reclaiming its natural form - mountain forests with lots of different pine types. The company incorporated for this matter was called "ATAHUALPA JERUSALEM" so to give honor to history and religion. Across the road you'll find huge signs with quotes from the new testament. In the heart of the forest, there's a community created fabric from sheep wool and a lot of tasty dairy products. 

    There's also a zoo with many animals from all Peru regions - local bears, condors and pumas from the Andes, jaguars, monkeys and parrots from the Amazon, and of course the magical Vicuña - a delicate and shy relative of the llama. Those who can't visit one of the Peru jungles, it's worth it to visit here and see in a glance what the Amazon has to offer. You can register in every tourist agency in Cajamarca. Some of them are located in Plaza De Armas

  • Nature | Italy > Lago del Predil
    Updated at Jun 19,2013

    We continued to Passo di Predil, with Lake Predil, also featuring snowy mountains around it and an intense green color. We continued to the Sela pass, 4 turns all and all, and when we almost reached the end we stopped in a small restaurant with a view of the snowy mountains and had a very bad cup of coffee with homemade strudel and gibanica.

  • Nature | Slovenia > Lake Bohinj
    Updated at Jul 10,2013

    Day 17 – A visit to a typical Slovenian restaurant

    After breakfast, Mojca gave us an explanation on the places we planned to visit that day, and even recommended a typical Slovenian restaurant. We started at Lake Bohinj and admired the reflection of the mountain on the water. We continued to Savica Waterfall. We already knew about the 500 stairs, but when I checked our online guide afterward I read that someone counted 550 stairs. We stopped occasionally until we reached the summit and it was worth it. The waterfall seemed like it was springing out of the rock with a green pool at its feet.

  • Nature | Norway > Bleik
    Updated at Jul 11,2013

    After fixing the accommodation issue, we drove to Bleik which was 7 km from Andenes on the western part of the island because we booked a trip for 15:00 for the birds islands. The ship was a fishing boat, no where to sit, just to grab some ship part and hope we won't fly overboard. 

    The ship rattled between the waves and we prayed for good. We knew in advance that you could not disembark on the Bleik bird island as it was 32 years ago, but the ship encircled the island and we had plenty of time to  take pictures of the many Puffins. The Puffins can hardly be found on the island itself as in the last 10 years the sea eagles have grown in numbers and they preyed upon them. So they stay in groups among the waves. The tour was an hour and a half. 

  • Nature | Australia > Yuraygir National Park
    Updated at Jun 9,2013

    "…We walked along the shore of Yuraygir National Park. The beach is lovely, with small inlets with rocky sandstone roofs. We got as far as the beautiful Shelly caves. Two of them were flooded – the sea was stormy that day – but we could still visit the other two. The soft sandstone was melting, and the colors resembled the layers of a cream cake. The path passed near changing coastal flora. On the beach we found rocks and shells, all kinds disgusting mollusks, and a chair someone left behind a long time ago".