Sunday, 13 July 2014

Beverley Brook

Long evenings make for long walks after work. Through Brompton Cemetery, past Lots Road and along the river through Imperial Wharf, or back to Putney from Hammersmith Town Hall, crossing the small bridge where Beverley Brook meets the Thames.

I went back at the weekend to follow the brook walk itself. Maps can be downloaded here but I trusted to signposts and my nose and did quite well without. Edit: Some good pictures of Beverley Brook at Paul Talling's London's Lost Rivers site here.)

It's a nice walk along the Thames at Putney to the mouth of the brook. Being a weekend there was an art fair and music and sailing boats out, which made a nice dawdling gentle start to the walk. There used to be a greasy spoon down here - back in the days when I was attending (cough, bunking off, cough) South Thames College up the hill, and I used to go in and get tea before getting the bus into town and hitting the museums or just walking around all day.

In those days though I was in short skirts and court shoes and patterned tights - not to mention an aran cardigan instead of a coat. 19 years old, about 7 stone 3 and apparently impervious to cold and blisters. Constantly skint with a part time job in a supermarket and a full time education that never seemed as entertaining as anything else I might want to do.

That, though, was then. These days I have jeans and walking boots and a degree and a proper job, and the greasy spoon has been pulled down.

What are still there are the boating clubs. Kings College, Imperial College, Westminster School. And over the river Fulham Football Club. Beverley Brook runs into the Thames on the south side just before that.

It runs almost at once into Barnes common, and the path leaves the brook (it does this a lot) and meanders instead through a cemetery which is completely without fencing, just another part of the common to be wandered through - you don't even notice until you spot a gravestone or two through the trees.

Although the map makes it look as if it's all through green space I definitely ended up on a housing estate at one point, and round the back of the Priory Hospital where a few workers - catering I think, not nurses, were having a quick cigarette and a chat. Other than that the Brook goes through Richmond Common, and on to New Malden. Lots of people out in the hot weather last week, tennis, ice creams, cricket, dogs, kids, cyclists...

Tomorrow is the next stage of the Capital Ring (today was taking The Boy to the park for chocolate ice cream and water fights and helping him stick world cup stickers in his world cup book.)

Harrow to Hendon and probably a bit beyond, weather permitting. I did Greenford to Harrow two weeks ago, up Horsenden Hill where a bird of prey was hovering - I noticed primarily because there was a man with binoculars watching it - clearly waiting for something small and furry to move before it dropped like a stone to catch it.

'Kestrel.' The man with binoculars said. I thanked him and moved on, down the hill, then through Sudbury and up another hill to Harrow.

This is the famous public school, blazers and straw boaters. The high street of the old town runs right through it, and there are signposts to 'Matrons Office' or 'Music Room' off public roads. You can see the centre of London over the top of school buildings. All of which surprised me. I'd assumed Harrow was out in the country, like Eton, and would have expected it to be more fenced in.

The real high street though is by the station. Fast food, clothes shops, fruit being sold from a stall. That's where I'm headed tomorrow for the next leg.

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