St James Walks

An article by Joe Foot, who is interested in forming a walking group at St James

Let me start by introducing myself, hello I am Joe. As a family we have lived in New Malden since 2014. I am more commonly recognised as Jamie’s dad who was Christened back in 2018 when the world was a very different place. I have also recently joined the PCC.

During the days of Lockdown 1.0 and the rules on limited outdoor exercise I valued any time spent outdoors. I have also realised the value of even the smallest amount of social interaction. Owning a Spaniel has allowed to me to explore and discover some amazing local spaces, which in times of limited movement have provided both moments of calm and ways to tire out a 3-year-old and a Spaniel.

The idea of a walking group was derived prior to Lockdown 2.0 and like many things was put on hold. The possibility of sharing knowledge of walks and even to start a walking group has been proposed and this is part one, which depending on how it is received may be the start of a series or a one-off special.

The Hogsmill River Walk (St Johns Church Old Malden)- approximately 45 minutes

This is our emergency walk, when time is pressed, and the dog is being a nuisance and chasing a ball round Manor Park will not suffice. A recent addition to this walk is the Hogsmill Nature trail and a selection of carvings which provide an excellent incentive for young children.

The car park at St Johns Church offers a great starting point, with a made track down the hill to the river. This is quite steep and can be muddy in the winter and following heavy rain. Here you will find the first in a series of wooden carvings.

The bridge crosses over in to Six Acre Meadow which has an historic significance which you can read about when you’re there. In the summer the centre of this field is left to wild grass long grass and in the winter it’s a well-worn track, however the benefit of completing the loop is to take in the two additional wooden carvings.

On completion of this loop you should return back over the bridge and head towards the railway bridge. A new mural was installed and is well worth a quick look as you pass under the bridge to the next carving.

As you cross the tarmac path you’ll notice and arch and a giant snail, this is an excellent place for a three-year-old child to sit and take a rest. As you continue to follow the river you’ll come to an opening in the treeline where a recently installed swing can be braved by any older children or daring adults, as well as another carving and if you’re lucky you may see the heron on the water.

As you continue to follow the river you’ll come to the final and often decorated carving of a squirrel. The walk continues to follow the river until you can here the unmistakeable sounds of the A3 and a notice board in front of a small woodland area. A slight incline brings you back on yourself and to the top of the field. A woodland area to your left and right make it easy to forget that the A3 is a few hundred meters behind you. Behind the woodland to your left are the Maldon Manor Allotments. Directly in front of you is Richard Challoner School which you need to head on and pass, as you drop down the slight hill, towards our friend the big snail and another chance for a quick rest before heading back under the railway bridge and back up the hill towards the church and home.

If you would like further details or would like to join a walk please email me on With the Covid restrictions in place this would be initially limited to six people at any outing and would have to adhere to the rules at the time of our trip. If there are any recommendations on other local walks, I know a Spaniel who would be very happy to review them.