The second in this winter's season of ‘shopping walks' is a long, hilly hike along a lovely stretch of the Moscow River and through the woods at Fili to ‘Gorbushka,' the electronics market. The route passes two contrasting churches, the nineteenth century Nativity of the Virgin, high on a wooded cliff above the river, and the fabulous baroque Intercession whose garden is hemmed in by tower blocks. From the Krilatskoe metro, you need to make sure you exit near the end of the train and turn left in the underpass to come out near Sedmoi Continent grocery store on Osenny Bulvar where the walk starts. Skirting round the right hand side of the supermarket, simply walk straight ahead, away from the main road, until you find yourself on Ulitsa Krylatsky Kholmi, opposite the wooden archway gate into the park. Cross over and walk along the winding tarmac path, still heading roughly east towards the white and turquoise Nativity of the Virgin Church. This church is particularly popular for baptismal services (using water carried up from the springs in the valley below). The atmosphere is rich with incense and beeswax candles and every space is gilded, or decorated with icons and frescoes. Behind the church, a little garden with benches looks out over Moscow.
On a clear day, the superlative view reveals several extraordinary buildings. The velodrome, the rowing basin and the archery field below you were all built for the 1980 Olympics. The giant spaceship-mushroom is Europe's largest skating rink, built in 2004 with space for ten thousand spectators. Beyond the domes and terraces of sporting Krylatskoe, you can see as far as the Hotel Ukraine and the skyscrapers of the business district (including the tallest building in Europe, the Russia Tower). Going back past the church and out of the gates, turn sharp left round the fence and take the steps right, leading down the steep hillside into the valley. Turn right at the bottom to visit the spring and then retrace your steps and keep going beside the little stream until you pass two concrete-lined ponds and turn right along the tarmac path beyond them. Follow this path all the way round the edge of the park until you reach a bus stop on Krilatskaya Ulitsa.
Cross the road and keep going in this direction, past the garage and across two further roads until you reach the bank of the river. The last road, Ostrovnaya Ulitsa, is the busiest with traffic sometimes coming very fast off the main road so it is sometimes worth walking a little way to your left to find a safer point to cross, further from the corner. On the far side, simply walk down the bank to the river or - if it seems too slippery - follow the pavement under the Krylatsky Most until you come to the blue-painted steps on the far side. Turn right along the river bank and follow the Moskva as it flows towards the city centre. At this point, the river is still relatively unpolluted; fishermen often catch striped perch here and members of the "walrus club" swim from the steps.
This delightful area of riverside forest is technically divided into the Suvorovsky, Voroshilovsky and Filevsky Parks, which you will walk through in that order, but, administratively, the whole area is Filevsky Park. In the eighteenth century, this was part of the estate of the aristocratic Naryshkin family which had included Natalia Naryshkina, mother of Peter the Great. The family name has become associated with the ornamental style of the churches they commissioned, the "Naryshkin baroque," of which the Intercession at Fili is a fine example.
A couple of kilometers from Kry latsky Most, you pass the Kuznetsov Lifeguard station, a landing stage and a series of buildings on the cliffs above. When, eventually, a large corrugated iron hut becomes visible through the woods, look out for a definite path running up through the woods to the foot of a long flight of steps.
At the top of these, you will find the Lesnaya Trapeza Cafe where you can sit in a heated summer house and enjoy a mulled wine or bowl of soup (usually open from noon daily). Returning to the riverside, go on through the woods until you reach three green walrus huts and turn right again up the slope. At the top of this hill, a tarmac path leads you along the top of the cliff to an open space with benches. Turn right here and follow the broad track down the hill and up again towards the gateway onto Ulitsa Barklaya. Just before you get to the road, turn right and follow the path inside the woods that runs parallel until you come out of another gateway onto Bolshaya Filevskaya Ulitsa.
Like a postmodern novel, this walk has two alternative endings. If you cross straight over the main road and walk along Ulitsa Barklaya, you come to Bagrationskaya Metro station and, just beyond it, the Gorbushka Electronics market. This is also a great area to find refreshments.
There are several cafes inside the market itself, which is said to be the largest in Europe. From print cartridges, to orange squeezers, adaptors to lava lamps, you can get everything in this wild labyrinth of shops.
The second option is more spiritual. If you turn left instead along Bolshaya Filevskaya Ulitsa, you reach the pink and white wedding cake of the Pokrovka ("Intercession") Church. On the way, you pass the Fili Childrens' Park, a little oasis of snowy larch trees.
At the end of the road you are rewarded with a view of this beautiful church. Built in the late seventeenth century, the church is generally closed in winter, but you can still admire the ornate exterior before turning right along Novozavodskaya Ulitsa to Fili Metro Station.
Since these riverside parks run parallel to the "light blue line" on the metro, there are several options for shortening the route. What we did, was to catch trolleybus 19 from Oktyabrskoe Pole Metro to Krilatsky Most and simply walk from there (about an hour) along the water and through the trees to the Cafe. With its individual cabins and playground, this makes a family-friendly destination. Pionerskaya Metro is ten minutes away. If you do get further, or decide to explore the Fili end of the walk instead, the DVDs in Gorbushka or the playgrounds in the childrens' park are an attraction.