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28th September 2012
WALK AROUND MORDEN HALL PARK
This is a very easy walk on generally smooth or metalled paths with almost no climbing. Some sections along the river bank can be muddy after rain.
This is a very short, level, walk within Morden Hall Park, a 125 acre urban park, belonging to the National Trust, and open daily. Its real appeal to us is that it’s a centre for renewable energy and contains one of the most energy efficient historic buildings in the country.
You can get there very easily by public transport. From Clapham Junction take any of the frequent trains to Wimbledon station where the Tramlink takes you the four stops to Phipps Bridge station. Cross the up track (carefully) and enter the park immediately. To the left is a wide open conventional urban park area. It’s more interesting to bear right. Take the tarmac path leading across the open park then through a chestnut avenue. Next there’s a bridge across the first of several streams, all part of the Wandle river, channelled to provide mill races and weirs for two former Snuff mils which were located here. To the left is a large rose garden but we walked on towards the main café, turning left passing a former stable block. Several old brick-built buildings are now small studios or craft-based businesses. To the right, just before a bridge across another stream, is the café building, run by the NT. We had a really nice lunch outside on the terrace. This covers a ground source heat pump which provides heating for the café and other nearby buildings. Retracing your steps from the café you see a small second hand bookshop and another building with meeting rooms. Between the two is access to the Morden hydroelectric plant. This is set in a new channel parallel to one of the original snuff mills (one of its wheels still in place). The Archimedes screw hydro plant has its own automated sluice to adjust the water flow to the needs of the generator. Parallel to the main water channel are two small ones, one to allow eels to travel upstream and the other a fish ladder. There is an exhibition of sustainable technologies in the stable block which is heated by an air source heat pump (behind the buildings) and has PV panels on the roof. Re-cross the bridge and turn left to follow another path around the northern perimeter of the park. Returning towards the bridge this path takes you through a wetland wilderness area where wildlife such as kingfishers and little egrets are promised. We missed these but did see some late season butterflies. The loop returns again to the bridge and crossing it you can return to Phipps Bridge and the tram back to Wimbledon.
Total distance 2.5 miles (4.0km). Walking time about 1.15 hours.