Distance: 4 miles / 6.4km
Date completed: 24th April, 2021
This was the first section that we walked, though it’s section 7 in TfL’s guide, and we decided to kick things off with a bang and have a doubleheader by following it up with Section 8: Streatham Common to Wimbledon Park.
This may or may not have been a good idea, especially considering getting carried away by actually being allowed out to meet people the previous evening with government restrictions having been eased the week before. Nevertheless, it was a beautifully sunny spring afternoon, so we persevered with our plan.
Part of the reason we decided on attempting two sections was that it took us an hour and a half on public transport to get to our starting point at Crystal Palace. However, once we arrived there, we were raring to go (and try and walk off the slight hangover!)
Just outside the station, you will find a nice, brightly coloured, easy to spot pair of signs for the Capital Ring. With signs like this, we thought things would be pretty straight forward. However, we were soon to be slightly disappointed, as not all the signs are as clear (or indeed as present) as this one.
It was not long after leaving the sanctity of these signs did I get an inkling that we may have missed a turning. Checking with the TfL written guide it became apparent that we had. Thankfully checking before trudging up a hill needlessly, we were soon back on track.
The first decent piece of green space you come to is Westow Park, which was looking magnificent in the spring sunshine.
The day we took this walk coincided with the National Trust’s Blossom Watch, and they couldn’t have picked a better day with it. The photo below was a just one of many that could’ve been taken along the route.
As we exited Weston Park, I noticed this rather sad sight…as I said, not all the signage is as good as you might like!
With the sign out of action, a quick check of the written directions got us moving in the right direction. After crossing a couple of roads, we were onto another bit of green space in Upper Norwood Recreation Ground. Now it’s not the most interesting of places, but it was at least a pleasant green space on a sunny day!
And yes, there was plenty of blossom out here too!
Onward along quite a busy road, we were surprised to suddenly be greeted out of nowhere by a great view of the city.
The route then takes you down Biggin Hill, and another bit of bad signage. We missed the path we needed to take opposite number 47 towards the Biggin Wood tennis courts. There is a marker sign beyond the point where you should turn, but after a shortish u-turn later, and yet another referral to the written directions we were back on track. As if to make up for their error, we were rewarded with a good solid signpost!
A short walk through the remnants of the “Great North Wood” as the TfL guid describe it was a little disappointing to know that this was all that was left of it. However we were soon on to Norwood Grove and its old manor house, which according to Google is now a prep school.
Finally we made it to the end of the section, and the pubs are but moments away. As we were only just coming out of lockdown and the whole nation had been deprived of being poured a pint by someone else for a good few months, we were a little apprehensive of finding somewhere.
I would like to say that I was organised and booked ahead as I should have done given that’s what everybody else would have been doing, but through sheer disorganisation and a week that flew by, I hadn’t.
However, we were lucky this time, and actually got in at my first choice which was The Rabbit Hole, a gloriously quirky pub, with friendly staff who found us a table, and prompt service. Mission accomplished!
We were able to order and pay at the table via a QR code to a website, which was nicely integrated with Google Pay. I would quite happily have sat here for the rest of the afternoon, however we had another section to complete!
Some of the other pubs on my list which you may be interested in trying: