I have a soft spot for the River Wandle . When I lived in Garfield Road it ran past the ends of the gardens. Every day I would walk down past Wandle Park on my way to Colliers Wood underground watching the river flow. Sometimes, after a long evening at the pub I must confess to occasionally augmenting the flow.
When Sainsbury built their hypermarket on the site of an old cardboard box factory part of the deal was building a riverside path along that stretch of the river. Next to the superstore, Merton Abbey Mills (http://www.mertonabbeymills.org.uk/) opened up in old Wandle-powered works used by William Morris for printing the original Liberty silks. It is a great place for craft markets and food stalls and general meandering.
We then moved out of London for 14 years but ended up moving back in - this time to Wandsworth where the Wandle emerges into the Thames. Many a Sunday we have gone for a walk along the Thames side path from Wandle Creek to Putney Bridge and back, stopping at the creek to hurl bread at the ducks.
Last year while wandering the Wandle trail through King George park we came across a huge pile of tyres, a man in waders and an eel wriggling out of the former to be captured and returned to the river by the latter.
He was a member of the Wandle Trust (http://www.wandletrust.org/) who organise monthly river clean ups. This weekend as I was home alone with a clear second-Sunday-in-the-month I decided to join them for a bit of old shopping trolley retrieval.
The main theme of the day was in fact weeding. The invasive Himalayan Balsam is destroying the banks and driving out native species. Three hours and dozens of black bin bags later we had cleared a good stretch but given the river is 15 miles this seems something of a Herculean task.
After that it was time for their annual picnic.
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