Walking the Wandle Trail: Part 4 – The Wandsworth Bit

Published on 13 October 2011 in , , , , , ,

It’s Wandle Week here all week on Bods’s Blog. And in celebration I’ve been following the Wandle from source up to its end in Wandsworth.

Summerstown to Wandsworth

Wild flowers along the Wandle Trail

Ever since the Wandle passed under a train line in Merton, it’s changed. Less playful, less happy. The river has been hiding away from the Wandle Trail. Keeping its distance.

Near the border with Wansdworth it becomes audible, then visible. Through the bushes it’s grown wide, travelling fast down weirs. It is short lived. There is no riverside path any more. The trail can do nothing but head east to Earlsfield, then head west out of it. Back over the bridge and even further on.

Streets of houses, a park. I suck on an ice cream. The Wandle could be anywhere. Trains rumble noisily; the river seems to have vanished. Signs point to “Riverside Walk” but they’re just tormenting. There’s no river to be seen. No chance of looking for fish, ducks or eels.

It pops up fleetingly outside Wandsworth town centre, but disappears once more. The streets are full. Buses, shoppers. A large shopping centre takes centre stage with clothes shops and fish pedicures.

The former Youngs Brewery in Wandsworth

Over the road, the brooding, empty site of the Youngs Ram Brewery. Closed in 2006, due for redevelopment in 2008 and still waiting.

The old brewery tap still has signs in its window. It’s menu. It’s opening times. A broken window allows the passer-by to look in at the former pub. Tables scattered around. A giant Youngs logo propped up against a wall. Despite the closure, some brewing actually continues inside on a small scale. When redevelopment finally does come, a microbrewery will be included.

The Wandle passes it all by, never giving it much thought. It has a beer named after it, brewed at nearby Sambrooks brewery. Not on the river like the Ram though.

Finally, at the last minute and near the Armoury pub, the Trail is re-united with its namesake. There’s not much left now. The river looks sad. It’s journey is soon to end and it hasn’t had company for a while.

On a short stub of land called the Spit, it’s time to bid farewells. The Thames is up in front. The Wandle’s tale is now done. Lost in its bigger neighbour. And the Thames. well that’s a whole other story.

At the end of the Wandle

Wandle Week isn’t over just yet. How could it be? It’s only Thursday! But we’ve done the Wandle Trail! What more can be said about the Wandle? Well find out tomorrow! See all my Wandle Trail photos in my Wandle flickr set