Every time I come up to town, with my faithful four legged friend in tow, we make a point of visiting Wimbledon Common – it is quite simply the most beautiful oasis of calm in the bustle of South London life. When I lived in London, this was my safety valve and I value it enormously – in every weather. I admit to missing it too since I moved away, hence my eagerness to stroll through its acreage whenever I come up to town.
Reading through the website, I see that there’s about 1,140 acres of countryside – around 460 hectares – some of which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Others obviously love Wimbledon as much as we do as on an average weekend, there can be some 10,000 visitors and users of the Commons.
The term Commons actually covers land between Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common – there’s nine lakes, even an 18-hole Golf Course and a cricket field for heaven’s sake. Quite clearly, there’s even more to investigate that I ever knew existed so I’ll just have to keep coming back.
The land dates back to the paleolithic age and barrows such as the one known as Caesar’s Camp (although not associated with the Roman period) have been discovered – who knew?
There’s London plane, horse-chestnuts, holly, lime trees, sycamore, oak and birch among other trees – more varieties than you can imagine. There have been sightings of 22 species of mammals rustling around, three species of reptile, 12 of fish and 99 types of birds. It’s also an important site for dragonflies, damselflies and bats – six species in fact.
Well, to be honest, I don’t notice the detail of the above and I wouldn’t probably be able to distinguish between many of the trees – I just concentrate more on the moment: meeting up with friends, chatting to fellow walkers, breathing in the fresh air and above all, smiling broadly as The Hound tears about, storming through puddles, making new pals.
In essence, Wimbledon Common is just great fun whatever the weather – and a place both The Hound and I will continue to visit whenever we can. The Hound rates this a five paw plus plus plus walk – high praise indeed from the little chap.
Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry
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