Walking with Hope in their hearts

Nine walkers gathered at The Prince of Wales pub near Morden tram stop on Friday 30 November for a linear walk along the Wandle Trail towards Croydon and Carshalton, where the celebrated Hope pub was their ultimate destination. The Prince of Wales barman arrived to open up at 12 noon but had forgotten his keys, so frustrated preamble drinkers had to wait 15 minutes while he cycled home to retrieve them. There was just time to down a preparatory pint before setting off on a gloriously sunny day, in stark contrast to the rain for days before and forecast for days to follow.

The hopeful walkers crossing still waters (photo: John Parker)

After crossing the tram line, the walkers turned into Morden Hall Park to find a pristine boardwalk beside reeds and bullrushes over wonderful wetlands – it felt more like the Florida Everglades than southwest London. The wetland gave way to open grassland as the path meandered back to the River Wandle, then followed its course southwards. The path was rural and tranquil and only occasionally was civilisation encountered.  

Onto the boardwalk, having some fun (photo: John Parker)

After 3.5 miles the group dived into the Red Lion at Hackbridge for refreshment. This was the pub where Martin Perkins first trained as a publican and we celebrated the scene where he had pulled the first of many professional pints. Although now fortified, Martin struggled with the only major ascent of the whole walk, namely the road bridge over the railway at Hackbridge station. We paused to enjoy the vista over Beddington Sewage Farm from the summit while he caught up.

Dave the Navigator takes advice as he checks the route (photo: John Parker)

The group turned into the expanses of Beddington Park and traversed open grassland towards the stretch of the Wandle flowing from Croydon towards Carshalton. Roger Parkinson and John Parker reminisced about their days playing soccer for Alleyn Old Boys in the park, as did Dave Bannister who had played cricket for Beddington there. Dave led the group across to Carew Manor on the far side of the park and then back along the banks of the Wandle and past pretty lakes and gardens around the Grange.

Journey's End: the famous Hope pub in Carshalton

After recrossing the main road, the group skirted Westcroft Sports centre and took a direct line across grassland to the Wandle flowing northwards out of Carshalton. The final stretch passed by Carshalton Ponds before turning right towards The Hope pub. Bulla Robinson and Ted Mouat had just arrived and we were soon joined by Peter and Leni Gillman and their grandson Blake who is the pub’s cellar manager and curates its beer festivals.  For the second time in a week CMVC walkers tucked into copious quantities of excellent real ale while singing and entertaining an appreciative audience of like-minded souls.

 

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