In an old orchard park in Northern Tushino, there is a surreal sight of a genuine Soviet submarine, basking like a stranded whale on the edge of the Khimskoe reservoir, with two water-planes to keep it company. One of these is an extraordinary experimental "ekranoplane," known as the "Caspian Sea Monster" by US intelligence services during the Cold War. The woods and parks in this area may not be the most remote or the most tranquil in Moscow, but they are definitely among the most varied and interesting. One moment you are deep in a forest, the next moment you seem to have arrived at a seaside fairground; here is a deserted chapel in a riverside meadow, while just across the water is a busy industrial harbor. From Planernaya Metro Station, exit near the front of the train, walk ahead and then left around the huge building site to the far corner of the square and continue right along the road next to the coach park. Rounding the corner, look out for a little path on the right between blocks 2 and 4, which takes you into the Aleshkinski Forest. Go straight ahead into the birch trees, forking right at the junctions round the corner of a fence and through a clearing near a picnic table. Taking the path straight on from here leads you along the side of some garages onto Planernaya Ulitsa. Cross over the road, turn left to the end and cross again at the lights, then straight on and right along a stone track between banks of cow parsley. Follow this track round to the right into a meadow where you come eventually to a little chapel.
From here, head towards the river and follow it all the way along, past fairgrounds and beaches, until you come to the "Submarine Museum". The riverside walkway linking the three giant exhibits has just been completed and the museum displaying them is due to open this summer. All kinds of river traffic passes this point: sea-going barges loaded from the harbour or, from the Northern River Station on the far bank, huge cruise liners which set off every evening in summer to St Petersburg and other cities.
Going on around an inlet in the river, passing two wooden boats and a lighthouse filled with flowers, you are forced away from the water round some upscale riverside flats. When you reach the junction with Lodochnaya Ulitsa, turn left and keep going along this increasingly unprepossessing road until, just after the gates to number 18, you can turn left onto the riverbank again. On the far side of the river, you can see the Dinamo Beach and water sports club; the reservoir here is often covered in white sails.
Keep going along the bank as it gets narrower, across a narrow stone bridge through a gate, and then turn right along the bank of another canal. Take the first road on your left and after 700m turn left again along a tarmac lane and over a pedestrian bridge across the Moscow Canal. From here it is easy to understand how Moscow came to be called "the Port of five seas". This monumental navigation route, built by gulag prisoners in the 1930s, links the Moskva River with the Volga and so to the Black, Caspian, White, Baltic and Azov seas. On the far side of the bridge turn right and then left around the edge of the sprawling Anglo-American School.
Crossing over Beregovaya Ulitsa, go straight ahead along the Ivanskoe Shosse, but just before you come to the bridge, turn left along a delightful riverside path along the Khimka Valley and follow it until you come to a wooden pedestrian bridge. Cross over this and take the path straight ahead, bearing left around the foot of the steep hill along a muddy path. Cross over a smaller wooden bridge and turn right to reach the beautiful spring where crystal clear water, naturally filtered by the sandy cliffs, pours out of numerous pipes in the hillside, surrounded by icons, vases of flowers and benches where you can sit and relax.
Climbing up the wooden staircases to the top, take the main tarmac track between the summer house and playground until you reach a very confusing junction in the road. A tarmac track goes straight ahead, but you want to take the little path to the left of it, starting near the map and soon crossing over another path with green benches and passing a yellow post. Keep going along this path in roughly the same direction, crossing several other tracks and a small road, after which the path forks right a little and joins a larger track to emerge downhill by the lakes that make this end of the Pokrovskoe Streshnevo Park so popular in summer.
Going straight ahead along the causeway between two lakes, you pass a little beach and then a playground and, finally, following the main path out of the park towards a railway bridge, a cafe. Go under the bridge and take the road straight ahead, passing a new ‘live milk products' shop. At the end of the road, follow the path ahead and then slightly right to reach the 2nd Voykovsky Proezd that leads to Voykovskaya Metro Station. The Pivo Yest cafe on the left is a good place for lunch and does a sorrel soup with quails eggs for 150 rubles.
Something for the kids
The main route is quite long and challenging. A better option with kids might be to go straight to the Northern Tushino park, where the submarine is. This route starts and ends at Skhodnenskaya Metro where you can pick up a great picnic in the nearby market. Walking past the market and along Khimkinski Bulvar, past playgrounds and a fountain, you reach the park in about ten minutes. Walking along the riverbank, you can visit the fairground at the other end and stroll back through the lovely overgrown orchards in the middle. Alternatively, the Pokrovskoe Streshnevo Park makes a great destination in its own right, accessible from Voykovskaya through quiet lanes with lots of playgrounds.