18 January 2013

A walk in the snow

Snow is a rare beast in South-West London and when it does come it usually runs away again quite quickly. It came again on 18 January 2013 and I was determined to make the most of it with a circular walk around Ham.

Even the modern development of traditional looking houses that I live in, some still recall that its marketing name was Royal Park Gate, is transformed and absorbed in to the whiteness.

It is a shirt walk along the cycle path to the river where I joined the tow-path that links Kingston and Richmond. There is a brightly coloured path here that is easy to walk on but that comfort comes at the expense of any claim to be natural. Again the snow wins, it hides the path and keeps the crowds away so that there are only the determined walkers like myself out to enjoy the new landscape.

Heading toward Richmond the open space, Ham Lands, opens and by the time that you get to Teddington Lock there are a couple of hundred metres between the river and the road.

This space is home to grasses and trees and is laced with footpaths forged by dog walkers.

Here the grasses lose out and are hidden leaving the trees standing triumphant. A few have even kept their leaves.

It was a shame to leave the wilderness at this point but I did not have the time to follow the bend of the river all the way to Ham House. Instead I followed the footpaths, lanes and then a road that took me to Ham Common.

This is probably the only photograph of Ham Common that I have taken that does not have any people in it, and I've taken hundreds like this one.

The Common is ringed by roads and houses which the snow has skilfully hidden. That alone makes any hardship caused by the snow worth while. Only the bench remains as a sign of humanity.

The Common changes mood when it crosses the road and it becomes Ham Common Woods.

In the foreground here is an area of special grass (that's another story!) and the line of trees behind marks the main part of the Woods. There is a road between them that the snow has claimed.

There is a nicer, quieter and bendier road, Ham Farm Road, just behind where I was when I took this picture and it is there that I walked next.

There the woods come right up to the road and form an almost vertical border. more like a hedge than a wood. The branches defending this border are thick with snow, a demonstration of their stillness and strength.

One last stretch of my legs took me home, 68 minutes and 4.17km after I started. Not a long walk, or a quick one, but a very enjoyable one.

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