John Ruskin nailed it: “there’s no lovelier piece of lowland scenery in South England … than that bordering on the sources of the Wandle.”
Let that sink in
“there’s no lovelier piece of lowland scenery in South England…”
It’s maybe no wonder the loveliest piece of lowland scenery in South England is a roll call of the famous.
Izaak Walton sang its praises in his great classic The Compleat Angler. The great scientists Sir Humphrey Davy called it “the best and clearest stream near London.” Lord Nelson lived in a handsome house on the banks of the river with Emma Hamilton, and fished there when he wasn’t fighting naval battles. Frederic Halford, known as the father of dry-fly fishing, rented a stretch of the river for several years, where he formulated many of his angling theories.
And it’s not just the fishing – though trout have been seen in the Wandle for hundreds of years.
With over sixty watermills, in the early nineteenth century the river was described as the “hardest worked river for its size in the World.”
Beer has been brewed at the Ram brewery site since the sixteenth century, making it the oldest continually brewing site in the country. It’s home to London’s oldest independent brewery.
The brewery made use of the River Wandle and the Wandsworth Canal for over a century. The World’s first public railway, the Surrey Iron Railway of 1803, passed beside the brewery.
It started brilliantly – pastorally – and it’s carrying on brilliantly – pastorally. The Wandle Valley Regional Park has kept the 21st-century at bay.
Bottom line: we’re there because the river and its glades – its surroundings – are a great place for a pleasing, picturesque, stimulus-rich walk.