I didn’t want to do this one. When I woke up the world looked angry. It turned out to be beautiful.

I managed to drop and damage my flask before I even left the house, the enormous clang echoed through the house. I cursed myself for possibly waking up The Wife, but at least the flask was still retaining its tea. I also had a pack of banana-flavoured Soreen as I’d gone a bit crazy when I saw the selection available. So I was well-provided for what looked to be a dreary day.

Starting point: The bottom of Streatham Common, reachable by trains at Streatham or Streatham Common railway stations, or various buses.

Finishing point: Richmond Bridge, reachable by rail, Overground or Tube at Richmond Station, or various buses.

Length: Approximately 13 miles (21 kilometres).

Ordnance Survey Maps app route link here

Download the GPX file for this route here Streatham Common to Richmond

I got off the bus at the wrong stop beside Streatham Common. I have no idea how I did that considering I’ve lived most of my life along that bus route and have already completed the Capital Ring up to here… The clouds were spitting and I immediately began to question my decision to wear my non-waterproof Merrell MOABs. The grass was already slick and little worm casts added to the treachery underfoot.

I turned onto Lewin road but barely looked up from my phone as I tried in vain to get the GPS track to record. It suddenly located the constellation just in time for me to admire the beautiful water pumping station shortly after Streatham Common railway station.

The pumping station near Streatham Common Station, Section 5 of the Capital Ring

Subtle stained glass near Tooting Bec CommonI’d always admired it from trains passing through but this was the first time I’d been able to get a full view. Under the tracks you go and then a quick right onto Conyer’s Road. The houses along here are attractive and large, carrying little stained glass windows and some ‘interesting’ choices of landscape gardening.

Trying to cross Mitcham Lane turned out to be quite difficult but it let me admire the Methodist church on the opposite corner.

At the end of the road you only have to follow the unusually quiet A214 for a few seconds before you cross into lovely Tooting Bec Common. In common with last week’s walk from Banstead to Richmond the trees were colouring themselves in keeping with the season and the weather was that tense state between blustery wind and potential rain. I admired the Common as I whizzed through and beyond, onto the pleasant back streets of Balham.

Pretty church along Balham High Street, Section 5 of the Capital RingAttractive Victorian houses now split into multiple expensive flats and a the wide curve of Ritherdon Road. I wouldn’t mind living here. The signs kept me on the right track today and I soon emerged onto Balham High Road, which is far less appealing. All the same the flats of Du Cane Court loom over the busy road with all their slightly sinister Deco magnificence.

As I approached Wandsworth Common I reflected on how many times over the years I’d seen the thin path next to the track and considered walking it. Finally I was ticking it off. This wasn’t a momentous moment, but a small victory in some corner of my mind. Happily the path in Wandsworth Common is really quite pretty as it curves around the pond and under the trailing fingers of the trees. Posh Mummies called after wayward children and oddly-named dogs, and from a bench I watched a range of different body types working out in unison. After a few cups of tea I veered properly westwards for the first time in the day.

Work it baby! In Wandsworth Common

Wandsworth PrisonWandsworth Prison suddenly popped out at me on the right. I was taken back to images I’d seen in NME many years before, Pete Doherty running into Carl Barat’s arms and seemingly forgiving all the mess of the circumstances of his first spell inside, the prison gate as backdrop. The hopes of many early-twenty-year-olds, like I was, reignited. As we all know, it never came to pass. The Albion is surely lost at sea, if not sunk.

With a slightly melancholy air I wandered onto Magdalen Road. I further encouraged the Black Bile by taking the parallel path through Wandsworth Cemetery – vastly preferable to the main road.

Wandsworth Cemetery, a good alternative to walking along the roadside, Capital Ring section 5

As I left the cemetery I gave a friendly nod to a very old man who was clutching a bunch of flowers clearly destined for a loved one. What the hell was I moping about? I hit Earlsfield moments later and realised with a much lighter heart that I’d just completed yet another section of the Capital Ring.

Penwith Road carries you over the River Wandle, its trail being one of my future walks, but I was disappointed to note that trail blazes for it are apparently scant at best. Maybe that won’t be a great walk at all. Still, gotta be done!

Crossing the River Wandle along Section 6 of the Capital Ring

The Boating Lake in Wimbledon ParkSeveral dull roads later I started on the slope up to and past Wimbledon Park tube station. I admired the view back over Central London from Wimbledon Park and admired the boating lake even more. I can confirm for you here today that Banana-flavoured Soreen is delicious too!

It was pretty cold here so I strode ever upwards towards Wimbledon Common. Rain spat ever so slightly and I began to think about my footwear again. But fear not, I entered Wimbledon Common and the weather held off. I really enjoyed the route through the Common. It’s almost all through thick woodland along unmade paths and in the middle is a great big windmill with a cafe and toilets. Had there not been about 13 quintillion people hanging around for the start of a sponsored run then I might have popped in, it looked nice.

Wimbledon Common's windmill and people exercising, Section 6 of the Capital Ring

Seconds later the path drops steeply and I came face to face with a pleasant-looking middle-aged man in a Barbour coat. And blood pouring down his face. He was smiling and chatting on his mobile, and didn’t even notice my draw drop as I saw him. Clearly he’d either fallen over or not been looking where he was going and walked into a tree. So I decided to take my own eyes off of the path and absorb myself with Twitter and Facebook to spread the news of my sighting. Luckily I didn’t crack my noggin open and looked up from the screen just as I entered a lovely yellow section of path. The sun was coming out and small yellow leaves carpeted the floor and created the canopy.

The yellow place deep inside Wimbledon Common

I was certainly enjoying the section starting from Wimbledon Park far more than anything before that. And I was eating up the miles now.


I left the Common, crossed the Robin Hood Way and plunged merrily into Richmond Park!

A gate into Richmond Park, following section 6 of the Capital Ring

Horses everywhere. Lovely.

The wide open spaces and the range of colours transfixed me. I took scores of photographs here but none of them really gave it justice. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been to Richmond Park but it needs to be visited more often. A short slope towards *snigger* Spankers Hill Wood provided magnificent framing for the flock/gang/posse/squad of deer (someone help me with the collective noun please). They are rightly the main attraction of this enormous and historic park.

The famous deer of Richmond Park

I passed lovely patches of heather, glorious copses of trees, and odd-looking ducks before climbing another small hill. People at the summit appeared to have jumbo jets skimming over their heads so I avoided that dribble of surreality and turned off to the left.

Myriad colours and textures in Richmond Park

A streak of blue across the autumnal colours of Richmond Park

Dead trees and and dying leaves in Richmond Park, Section 6 of the Capital Ring

Another lovely vista in Richmond Park

A jumbo jet skims the heads of people in Richmond Park

The Capital Ring clawed ever westwards and plonked me beside a bench overlooking a speckled swathe of Surrey.

An unidentified tower at the bottom of Richmond Park, along section 6 of the Capital Ring

A view of Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall, from Richmond Park

From here on I was jubilant, this park is the greatest in London, by a LONG way, and in EVERY way.

St. Peter's Church, Petersham, Capital Ring Section 6

Views kept coming as I counted down the distance to Richmond Bridge and I considered squeezing a second walk into the rest of the afternoon. When I reached the River Thames, a part I walked in the summer, I greeted it like an old friend, and with a grin on my face. It was lovely to see it again.

A splash of orange beside the Thames at Richmond

Decrepit boats near Richmond Bridge

I squeezed into the White Cross Young’s pub and realised that the food I’d hoped for wasn’t going to happen. All the pubs along here were rammed to capacity with old people in small groups so I contented myself with a pint of bitter on the cold terrace outside and decided against another walk. I didn’t mind, this walk had been a superb antidote to the underwhelming one I’d taken in a week previously. So there you have it – Section 6 of the Capital Ring is my favourite section of the Ring so far. It will be really very hard to top it.

The view from my finishing pint at the White Cross, Richmond