Amazingly, even though I only did section 8 just over a week ago, I got to do section 9 today! Section 9 of the Capital Ring is between Greenford and South Kenton. You start off by following more canals (nicer ones this time) and then head off to Horsenden Hill.
Horsenden Hill is the first proper hill I’ve encountered in the three sections I’ve done so far and yeugh it was a shock to the system. It’s very steep (steep enough to have steps for a good chunk of the way) and I was breathing like I was about to burst a lung for most of it, although in my defence I’m not 100% sure my lungs have fully recovered from last year’s surgeries yet. I made it to the top of the hill, staggered to a bench and watched as first an old man with a cane strolled up the hill like he was strolling out to get the paper, then a man with a bike came up the hill and I was thinking “how on earth did he do that?” and then he got closer and I noticed he had a white beard! I maybe (1) shouldn’t be so ageist and (2) get fitter! The icing on the cake though was when, in the old people party that is obviously the top of Horsenden Hill, two old Polish guys strolled up the hill, smoking cigarettes! Now if they can do that on smokers’ lungs!
Once recovered, I managed to find the correct path off the top of the hill (some clearer Capital Ring signs would have been good, this time I was navigating by a paper map and a written description and it was the written description that got me in the right direction). The path at the bottom of Horsendon Hill on that side is extremely muddy, the sort of mud that would do a hippo proud and there wasn’t really any way other than through it. So I was glad I decided to put my DMs and not my Converses on this morning!
Once out of Horsendon Hill, there is a large chunk of residential, typical London, urban streets to get through, ie not that inspiring but once through that and up another steep hill, you hit Harrow on the Hill, home of the famous Harrow school. And although this part of the section is also streets, Harrow on the Hill is rather pretty and it was interesting to see how the school has pretty much taken over the village (and yes, although it is still London, it definitely does have a villagey feel). You can feel the privilege oozing of it though.
You leave Harrow on the Hill by walking down a steep slope towards Harrow’s sports pitches, the school has allowed Capital Ring access along a bit of their pitches and you head off over the only stile in the whole of the Ring. You then head off down a bit of a grotty path through another bit of wood, past a hospital and along yet another golf course (had enough of those, last section) before walking through some playing fields before “yay! there’s the tube station!”.
I liked this section, it was definitely better than the bit boring section 8, although my favourite section so far is section 7, although I may be biased about that, as I live nearby. This section is also 8.8km (like section 8) but I felt like I coped with it a bit better this time, even with all those hills. I don’t know when I’m going to do section 10, it has more hills and is even longer, eek!