Kingston To Donkey Wood

Ok, what’s this?

Another day, another walk. This one is a section of the LOOP.

The London Outer Orbital Path and is reasonably signposted. The LOOP, as the name suggests skirts around London and in total is about 150 miles. It’s a brother to the Capital Ring that also circles the metropolis, but at 78 miles is half the distance.

I was a bit stiff as the Lad and I had down the bottom lawn, shifting and spreading over a tonne of lawn dressing the day before. Dog took a face full when I was tossing it around. Not impressed.

But the walk had been planned, the lawn works were opportunistic as rain is due to wash in the dressing so Tally Ho! And all that.

Kingston is a bit like Richmond where we started the last walk. Smart, affluent, self aware and on the River Thames. It’s also something of a canyon what with new buildings lining wide roads that neatly channel the inevitable river borne breezes that chill the marrow on this brisk April day. I stuck my nose outside the station and promptly went back inside for a coffee.

Replete, I headed for the river and Kingston Bridge. The view up stream is towards Hampton Court Palace, a fine example of royal misappropriation. ‘Wolsey you know your country gaff?’ ‘Which one sire?’ The one with the deer.’ ‘Yes sire.’ ‘My birthday’s due, Wolsey.’ ‘I was thinking of a voucher?’ Maybe we could have a quiet meal for two hundred?’ ‘I like to hunt, Wolsey.’ ‘You can hunt in many places, sire.’ ‘It doesn’t have to be deer, Wolsey…’

From there it’s easy to go wrong and follow the river, rather than cross the road and enter Bushy Park, opposite the parish church.

The gates are all high and rather intimidating; the reason is soon apparent when we finish the horse-chestnut grove that leads into the park.

Bushy Park is famous for the deer. And there are a fair few. First though I needed to follow some grass paths to the Leg of Mutton pond and circumnavigate that.

Then the young, rather curious herd. People are warned during the rut to keep away. Currently the young bucks hereabouts have their antlers bubble wrapped but soon enough they’ll be as intimidating as Mrs Pricket in form 4 when I failed to focus on story time. She didn’t need antlers to pierce flesh; her laser gaze was sufficient to avulse ones internal organs.

Next there’s a bit of water to follow – a second pond (the Heron) and a watercourse that’s as built by Charles 1, who inherited the park from his predecessor and upped the deer quotient.

This full-to-overflowing stream goes underground where the route crosses the more famous Chestnut Drive that provides a grand approach to the Palace – this one designed by, or for more like, William III the Orange one who introduced tanning to the monarchy.

When I walked this route some 20 years ago with my old dog, Blitz, we had to detour past the next bit as dogs are damned. Curs and Jappersnapes, the lot of them for such errant bars. Anyway, this time I entered the delightful confines of the Waterhouse Plantation where, glory be, some prescient worthy has built a rather splendid tea room and toilets. I indulged both.

My guide book, as well as pointing out shrubs and studs, pointed me to some weird stumps emerging fro the water. These fossilised meerkats are in fact the roots of the swamp cypress that line the water. Not exactly an indigenous species but exotic enough, all the same.

The plantation leads to a second plantation – this one named Willow, no doubt after Ms Willers, blogger extraordinaire and which is equally full of the rhododendrons and azaleas for which it is renowned.

Emerging eventually my guide book directed a diversion to espy the River Longford, a remarkable piece of engineered waterway, on the orders of Charles 1 to bring water to the park some 13 miles. It’s not that exciting in truth, lacking a certain historical pizzazz.

Back on route we now have to do the tarmacy bits through Teddington. My mum lived in Teddington for a while. She never spoke about it much. Having seen the houses I’m not very surprised.

So after this mile of meh and hey-ho, the route took us down to the river back alongside the River Crane. This is a gently flowing steam hereabouts through pleasant woodland. As is pointed out there are increasing numbers of odd earthworks that have to be man made. All is revealed when you reach this brick tower that looks like so many follies that the rich and unpleasant (not all of course) built because they could. I showed a picture of it at the start and asked for ideas. Anyone get it right?

This is a shot tower, so named because this part of England was home to the 18th and 19th centuries munitions businesses. The river was used to create mill races that ground the ingredients for gunpowder. The earthworks where bunds that protected the neighboured when some poor sod decided on a cheeky cigarette break and stopped him spreading his body parts across Hounslow. The shot tower was used as a way of making lead shot. You took the molten led to the top, measured out the right amount and dropped it down the tower and into a bucket of water. I suppose this might have been better than the job of gunpowder making but it’s a toss up.

The path is now heavily wooded and shaded and continues along the Crane’s banks. There are a couple of detours, one of which takes me across Hounslow Heath, a pretty rough piece of scrubland, as well as some more unprepossessing roads. The final section is through Donkey wood and the end of the section at 11 miles. Another four miles on and I’d be back at the Grand Union canal outside Hayes which, avid readers will recall has been my terminus of the last two. I decided, with the effort of soil spreading telling on my feet that that was probably enough and headed for Hatton Cross station and the journey back into central London and home.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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22 Responses to Kingston To Donkey Wood

  1. trifflepudling says:

    That’s a lovely tour, thanks.
    Whenever I see or read about the big Parks in the SW of London, I think of that video: “Fenton! FENTON!!” Gallop, gallop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darlene says:

    Looks like a lovely, but strenuous walk. Great photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How lovely to see so many deer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely walk, Geoff. I was slightly concerned when you took the video as one of the deer definitely looked worried. According to the warning sign, this is not allowed. Ms. Willers should be pleased with the call-out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    What a splendid walk, Geoff. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the picture of the deer heads poking up out of the grass. And the deer seemed relatively calm, if not interested in you, as you walked by. I did think Dog had taken a roll in the dirt!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. tootlepedal says:

    Good illustrations of another interesting walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gordon759 says:

    In answer to your initial question, what do you think?
    Curiously you will have passed the place where the shot tower was invented on many occasions. The church of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol (it’s the one you pass as you run to the station).
    A man called James Watt (not that one) was guided by a dream to pour molten lead from the top of the church tower into a tub of water. Most of the lead had set into small balls, ideal for shotguns,

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Roberta Eaton Cheadle says:

    HI GEoff, these are lovely pictures. There is no doubt that England is very pretty in a cultivated and civilized way (compared to our wild African beauty). I am sure Ms. Willow is pleased to have such a beautiful spot named for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      True around the southern and Eastern parts. Go west and north to the moors and its gets a bit wild. Not many large carnivores though beyond the odd obese local


  9. A very interesting walk Geoff. Loved the deer closeups. Your wit as always in top form.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. V.M.Sang says:

    I didn’t get the shot-tower right!
    A lovely walk, Geoff. Beautiful pictures.
    But I take umbrage at your comment about the moorland. It’s beautiful, but in a wild way, not like the manicured parks in the south east. The moorlands of Lancashire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire are beautiful when the gorse and heather is in bloom.


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