Monday 28 December 2020

Festive 500, London Waterways - Day 5: River Wandle (Wandle Trail)

Featured waterways: River Wandle

Distance ridden: 41km 

Cumulative distance: 318km

Distance left: 182km

Terrain: Multi-terrain: gravel, grass tracks, muddy sections, tarmac

Weather: Initial frosty patches, cloudy, 3 degC

Nutrition: Water

Route on Strava:

During the Festive 500 challenge I always think it is important to schedule in a few "easy" days at around the half-way mark. It's good for the soul, and you don't have a feeling of beating yourself up to get this done.

So today, was that day - a 25-mile ride that took me along the River Wandle from Croydon to Wandsworth, and then back home via the different commons in South-West London along a largely traffic-free route.

This is quite a pleasant waymarked route, known as the Wandle Trail, so there is no need to do much in the way of navigation. It's just a case of following the white stickers with a green arrow marked on the lamp post. You can also follow National Cycle Network Route 20. 

Look for the green arrow won the whit background, or NCN route 20

From my home in Crystal Palace, I cycled down to Wandle Park, Croydon to start the route. That went through places like Waddon Ponds and Beddington Park, and then largely followed the River Wandle. I went past various residential properties, nature reserves, woodland, parkland, light industrial estates and retail parks. There is a bit of everything along this 14-mile trail. You get to see areas that you wouldn't normally visit. Even though the route passes through Wimbledon, you get to see a totally different side of this area associated with strawberries and tennis.

One pleasant find, is Morden Hall Park - a reason to go to the end of the Northern Line. It is set in 125 acres of parkland and there is a nature reserve adjoining it. Within the grounds is also Deen City Farm, as well as Morden Hall, a stately home and functions venue. 

Many walkers were out in the park with their families on this dull chilly day, but it didn't stop them from enjoying being outdoors.

Morden Hall Park

One thing to note was how muddy the place was. Now, I do remember that this park has been used as a cross country running venue in the past. There is a reason for that! This would also make for a good cyclocross venue too, which is what I ended up doing by default as I weaved around the walkers.

I was conscious about not going too far into the swamp though as I really didn't want to muddy my lovely Liv Devote too much (even if it performed well in these conditions). I am more a fan of riding bikes than washing them!

In fact, some parts of the park were so muddy that I would have feared for the safety of a small child falling in!

After Morden, my route took me around places like Mitcham and Colliers Wood, then on to Earlsfield. Along various parts of the River Wandle people were out fishing. I didn't realise it was the season to do that sort of thing; it would be interesting to know if anyone ever caught a monster carp there, like they show on the fishing programme that comes on after the Tour de France broadcasts!

For a brief section, the route leaves the parks and traffic free paths to go down Earlsfield High Street, a handy spot. Normally (when there isn't lockdown) many cyclists hang out in this area - recreational riders and club riders sitting in the cafes with their bikes parked nearby. Also, if you feel too tired to ride all the way to the end of the route, or if for some other reason you can't continue cycling, Earlsfield train station is right there.

Cake time in Wandsworth Town

I was quite happy to go all the way to the end of the route close to Wandsworth Town train station. The first thing I noticed when I arrived there was the change since my previous trip along the Wandle Trail. The "planters" had gone. Previously, Wandsworth Council had closed Old York Road to traffic, and put in plant pots and cycle lanes. With the cafes along the side of the road, it gave a pleasant "Copenhagen-like" feel. But that has all changed now. The road has been re-opened to traffic, and cyclists are sharing the roads with all kinds of users. The planters had only ever been a temporary measure, and Wandsworth Council decided to scrap these "so-called" low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) due to them causing more congestion than before.

After a quick stopover, at the popular Gail's Bakery, I trundled home via various quiet roads in Wandsworth and then through Wandsworth Common, Tooting Common and Streatham Common. The welcome sight of the Crystal Palace transmitter as I crested Streatham Common signified to me that I was near home. Once past Beulah Hill I was back at base where I enjoyed a leisurely lunch and reminisced on the pleasant morning I'd had.

Related Posts

Rapha Festive 500, London Waterways - Day 1

Rapha Festive 500, London Waterways - Day 2

Rapha Festive 500, London Waterways - Day 3

Rapha Festive 500, London Waterways - Day 4

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