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Book Review : The Capital Ring by Colin Saunders (Aurum Press)


Guide Books  for walks in Central London are numerous, however The Capital Ring by Colin Saunders offers an interesting alternative by offering a series of walks that are close enough to London for easy access to transport but far enough out to offer something a little different from the usual guides.

The development of the Capital Ring and the larger London Loop was the product of a number of organisations including the London Walking forum, Walk London and Transport for London.

Part of a wider initiative to promote Walking  as a pastime , these orbital walks were first suggested in 1990 and through the cooperation of the local authorities , the walking organisations and Transport for London they came to fruition in 2005.

Some of the history of the route is told in the book’s introduction , here is also some information  on accessibility , safety, transport , signs and waymarks.

The next section The Capital Ring  forms the main part of the book in which the Ring is divided into 15 separate but consecutive walks . The walks range in distance  from 3.5 to 7.7 miles with the average being around 5 miles.

The  Ring itself has a walking route of 78 miles (125 km) and generally lies between 4 and 10 miles from Charing Cross, so offers easy access from Central London.

It is this distance from London that offers a wide range of  attractions which include the Thames Barrier, Eltham Palace and Wimbledon Common. One of the great attractions of the walk is that it transverses many green and waterside environments, it also passes through  nature reserves, parks , woods and even farmland.

Each walk in the book follows the same format , the reader is first given basic information about distance, public transport, terrain, refreshments and toilets.

History of the area is discussed and interesting sights to look out for are marked on the accompanying map and illustrated  by  photographs.

The walk is then described in detail with a few local diversions that you may want to take to see places of interests.

The range of destinations  include Woolwich, Falconwood, Grove Park, Crystal Palace , Streatham, Wimbledon Park, Richmond, Osterley Lock, Greenford, South Kenton, Hendon Park, Highgate, Stoke Newington, Hackney Wick and Beckton District Park.

 The final section in the book is Useful Information which offers useful tips on transport, starting points and useful addresses.

The Capital Ring is quite an unusual London guide book in as much that the destinations are not necessarily ones that would be the first port of call for walkers or visitors to London.

But that is the great strength of the guide, it does not replicate the hundreds of London Walking books but offers something different and perhaps more importantly offers a series of smaller walks within a wider walk that circles inner London.

This attractive and well designed  book also illustrates that there are a large number of attractions and locations that are often neglected. With a large number of attractive photographs and interesting historical snippets, the book seeks to promote the benefits of discovering or rediscovering these areas.

Visiting London Guide Rating  – Highly Recommended

If you would like further information or would like to buy the book, visit the publisher website here

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