Walking to St George’s

Posted on 15/12/2019 By

Walking to St Georges

Wall plaque for the National Trust Morden Hall Park, on an ivy-covered wall.

“Everything in Life is an Opportunity” said Bobby.

“Even snuffing it, for an undertaker” he added.

Well, it seems that he now views the ‘very serious event‘ as an opportunity to live life in a more healthy way. It wasn’t unhealthy before, but did include quite a few cakes and fry-ups. So if I tell you he told me that it was one of the best things that’s happened to him, you might think he has lost the plot. I understand. Totally. In the first place, it’s now over four months since that fateful day and he is still here. Battered a bit. Knackered a bit. Philosophical a bit. But still here. Still laughing. Still wanting to write stories. And now he has even more scope.

The last few weeks have seen him travelling twice a week to St George’s Hospital for von Willebrand’s treatment. And then once a week for cardiac rehabilitation exercises at Epsom General. Treadmills, rowing machines and so on.

Part of rehabilitation is the need to consolidate it with lots of aerobic walking. Ten minutes warm up. Ten minutes cool down. In between, however much you can do without discomfort.

But where? And when? No hills allowed at present. But lots of opportunity involving daily activities. The first and brilliant is “A walk to St Georges Hospital” in Tooting. Parking there is an expensive nightmare. Train and bus is fine, but sedentary (or on strike!). Two hours, too. But there is a superb alternative. Full of historical interest. An ancient park. A notorious river in times not so long ago ago. Old industries. Famous Englishmen. A City Farm for children. And a market with spiritual history behind it. A bus garage that once oozed intrigue. Ironically based on the A24 highway from London to Worthing. Passing by our house at South Holmwood.

So welcome to our walk which we hope to encourage you to follow too. The walk starts in the car park of the National Trust property at Morden Hall Park.

This is an amazing property, completely surrounded by drab suburbia. Within sight of the ghastly, for some, Morden Underground Station. Terminus of the Northern Line.

A No 80 bus heading to Hackridge outside the ultra-modern concrete structure of Morden Underground Station.

Near Morden Station - Bertie, with the rear of a No 157 Double Deck bus and an 80 heading to Belmont opposite.

Bertie outside Morden Hall Park & Garden Centre.

These three pictures are just a five minute walk apart.

The Park’s prosperity came from the snuff mills set up on the River Wandle in the 18th Century. The eventual owner, Gilliat Hatfield, was a very philanthropic man who wanted others to benefit from his beloved estate. Eventually donating it to the NT in 1941. The river meanders through the park and has numerous footbridges crossing it.

The car park is free to NT members. There is a lovely, very popular café there next to the garden centre. Morden Hall Park deserves a blog or two of its own. But this a walk and a fleeting glance of a far different world to that over the garden wall. So leaving the car park crossing the footbridge over the river – be sure to look for fish. There are some very large specimens such as ghost carp and barbel that are captive within the river environment within the park.

The NT café from the car park from the footbridge over the river.

The NT café from the car park from the footbridge over the river.

A large fish in the river under the bridge at Morden Hall Park.

Wow… look at the size of that! Below the bridge.

Sign in the Café at Morden Hall Park: "We all need places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in and places to spend a dayin" Octavia Hill (1883). Underneath is written: This is why Morden Hall Park is so important and every pound you spend here today helps us to look after this special landscape forever, for everyone.

Fine words in the NT Café.

Bertie in a high chair in the Morden Hall Park Café!

Walking between the café and garden centre, you go through the arch into the park itself. Follow the signs for the Wandle Trail.

The archway between the Café and Morden Hall Park itself.

Sign for National Cycle Route 10 in Morden Hall Park.

It’s also part of the National Cycle Network and signed appropriately.

Bertie on top of one of the stone wheels from the snuff mill days.

Passing the old mill stones from the snuff days.

Bertie outside the old Snuff Mill entrance.

The Old Snuff Mill, now a learning centre.

Bertie in front of the old Snuff Mill, with the cosmetically restored water wheel behind.

Cosmetically restored waterwheel for the old Snuff Mill.

Turn alongside the river to a beautiful white iron bridge and keep to the left signposted by Sustrans to join the boardwalk that eventually will take you to the edge of the park by the tramway.

A view of the River Wandle.

The River Wandle.

A confluence in the Wandle with a man made stream. Trees are in autumn colours.

The Wandle, with many man made streams created for its working days.

A heron in an old brick arch.

A heron in an old brick arch.

Looking across an iron bridge over the river in Morden Hall Park.

Looking across the River Wandle at one of the iron bridges crossing it.

A beautiful iron bridge. One of many.

Autumn colours in Morden Hall Park.

Autumn was lovely on the walk.

A signpost in the park.

The park is well signed.

Wooden signpost made to look like a dragonfly. The wings to the right are pointing to the boardwalk.

To the boardwalk.

Full view of the dragonfly sign pointing to the boardwalk in Morden Hall Park.

Bertie sat on the fence, with the boardwalk stretching out behind.

Bullrushes, as seen when walking along the boardwalk in Morden Hall Park.

The boardwalk through the reed beds in Morden Hall Park.

Walking down the boardwalk though reed beds. Cut in winter.

Croydon Tram no 2548 on the tramway in Morden Hall Park.

The tramway.

The tramway runs between Croydon and Wimbledon. Built partly on old railway lines. Historically part of the trackbed lies where once the Surrey Iron Railway ran. Horsedrawn before steam engines were invented it was one of the world’s earliest railways. We can recommend a good read of its route, which includes the whole area in which the walk is situated.


From here you have left the park and continued on the Wandle trail.

Map of the Wandle Trail.

Map of the trail.

Click on this link for the PDF of the above map which you then view or print.

Sign for Deen City Farm & Riding School.

Cows amongst the trees in Deen City Farm.

Passing Deen City Farm. Very popular with children. About 15 minutes from the Underground.

Looking up a pylon carrying High Voltage Power for the National Grid.

Why the National Grid? It reminds Bobby of the day he stood in exactly this spot and watched linesmen working high up on live cables. They had special suits that allowed the current through but kept them perfectly safe. Amazing job.

Bertie in the arms of a Mermaid by the River Wandle.

The Wandle was once a stinking cess pit of a river where tanneries in particular chucked all their waste in the river. It is so clean now that fish thrive. All sorts of birds are seen along here. And now the first mermaid!
(Publicity shoot where a bear makes all the difference between yes and bugger off).

Blue plaque denoting the site of the William Morris Printworks.

Further along you come to Merton Abbey Mills that are very popular
with shoppers. Once the site of the William Morris Printworks.

A view of Merton Abbey Mills.

Merton Abbey Mills.

Sign for the River Wandle.

Note the watermill logo. The Wandle was once all watermills.

Colourful hoardings on the other side of the road.

Close up of the hoardings with a drawing of Lord Nelson.

These hoardings may be a bit scruffy but they cover many of the places
of interest you have heard about so far plus the most famous local
inhabitant. Lord Nelson had his family home in the vicinity.

Ornate ivy-covered brick archway.

An ornate archway in the middle of nothing. With an exotic rubber tyre container of weeds. What a great country England is.

Interpretation board for Merton Abbey.

The story of Merton Abbey. Bobby should have taken a wet rag to clean it.


Merton Bus Garage, with a Wrightbus Streetlite outside and another parked inside.

Merton bus garage. Once a den of iniquity. Where a bus mechanic
might well tighten up more than your wheelnuts.

Looking along the A24 to Merton Bus Garage on the right.

Looking along the A24 to Merton Bus Garage on the right.

A long time ago. It clouded over as we reached the A24 and the end of this section of the Wandle Trail. You can carry on by bike or foot all the way to the Thames at Wandsworth. Or Indeed east from the start in Morden Hall Park back towards Croydon. But we were heading along the main road on the last lap to St George’s in Tooting.

Bertie outside the Charles Holden Pub at

The Charles Holden pub at Colliers Wood.

The Charles Holden pub at Colliers Wood.

Passing first the Charles Holden pub at Colliers Wood and the Underground station opposite. Make a note of the name, for he is the reason for the third part of the Trilogy coming up shortly.

Bertie posing outside Colliers Wood Underground Station.

Colliers Wood Underground Station.

And finally to St Georges Hospital in Tooting. Scene of many ‘adventures’, some described in earlier blogs.

Bertie posing outside St George's Hospital.

St George’s Hospital.

Bertie outside the doot to the Ruth Myles Unit. Click on this to read the blog.

Ruth Myles Unit (Click on the image for the blog).

A rather bored looking Bobby and Bertie sat on chairs in St George's Hospital.

Waiting for Haemophilia Nurse Roisin from the Emerald Isle.

Bertie getting his Blood Pressure checked!

Getting my BP ( Bear pressure) checked.

Bertie studying the readout on the blood pressure machine.

Better than Bobby’s!

In the four months now since the ‘Very Serious Event‘, Bobby has walked this walk in both directions probably twenty times. Going back is particularly nice in having the chance to have lunch in the NT café.

But, of course, it couldn’t last forever. The walk is lovely. Getting to and from the Park a real problem. By car or public transport, it’s an hour without the walk. Roughly two hours in total. Each way, although one day starts in Islington in the morning and that has led to two more very different stories to follow in this trilogy.

For now, the extreme medication is being relaxed and Bobby will not have to go regularly two days a week any more. But there will be other occasions to come to for what is his home hospital because of the Ruth Myles Unit. And he only took me once. On a nice sunny day.

Lighting a Candle

Diddley loved the artist René Magritte. This card reminds me of an exhibition of the artist we attended in Edinburgh. Somewhat unusual for an anniversary card. But that was Diddley.

Diddley loved the artist René Magritte. This card reminds me of an exhibition of the artist we attended in Edinburgh. Somewhat unusual for an anniversary card. But that was Diddley.

IllnessSt George's    

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