Saturday 10th August 2013
8 miles approx, including a detour to the sundial (really not convinced it was this long)
Toilets: Bexley Station (toilets only open when the station is staffed); pubs and cafes in Foots Cray; Sidcup Place (pub); pubs near Petts Wood Station.
We enjoyed last week’s walk so much that we decided to continue with the London Loop. Section 2 is often listed as “Old Bexley to Jubilee Country Park”, but I prefer to think of it as ending at a station, hence Petts Wood seems like a much more practical way of thinking about the route.
We started off by walking across some fields/meadows/not sure what you call them, but our guide book (published in 2008) said it was a landfill area which was still being contributed to. As with last week, there was a great feeling of open space. Apart from a few joggers, we almost had the place to ourselves.
After passing a pumping station we joined the River Cray and our walk become very idyllic. There were a lot more people about, all enjoying the weather, and lots of dogs were splashing about in the water.
After a short while we reached Five Arch Bridge, behind which the river widened and turned into more of a lake for a while.
It was a shame to leave this beautiful river, but on we continued. After passing some allotments, we passed a small field with two horses. The horses were facing forward and staring. No matter how much we tried to wave at them, they didn’t move. They just kept on staring and staring… and staring.
We continued on to “climb a grassy slope with a last, broad view over the Cray Valley”, although the slope was so gentle that we barely noticed we were going up hill, and wondered if we’d taken a wrong turning. Luckily we hadn’t – we should’ve learned by now that this book uses some quite overly-dramatic language! We finally reached Sidcup Place.
Built in 1743, Sidcup Place is now a Listed Building. Having spent some time being used as council offices, it was eventually converted into a pub and restaurant, and I use the term “pub” very losely. Really, the only reason we stopped here for lunch was because it was about half way through our walk, it was lunchtime, there weren’t any other places to eat nearby, and it was in a historic building with beautiful grounds. Anyone who takes on a building like this knows they will automatically have customers, so they don’t need to try too hard. Indoors, it was entirely bland. The food was nothing to write home about. There was one cask handpump, but it wasn’t in use. It was a useful toilet stop, though, and the building did look lovely from the outside.
After navigating across a complicated pathway through a big road junction, we joined the woodland of Scadbury Park. It seemed slightly more open and bright than the average wood, and contained redwood trees.
We took a brief detour to see the ruins of a moated manor house, pulled down during the 1730s but partially rebuilt in the 1930s to mark out the foundations.
A short while after crossing the A208, we took another detour to find the sundial built in memory of William Willett. He campaigned for the introduction of daylight saving, and in his honour, this sundial is set to British Summer Time. Note that it’s designed with one o’clock in the middle, rather than twelve o’clock. The phrase “Horas non numero nisi aestivas” means something along the lines of “I count nothing but the summer hours.” We were glad to have found it because the turning wasn’t obvious, the description in the guide book was confusing, and we’d already spoken to someone else who’d done the walk but missed the sundial.
After more pleasant woodland, we crossed a complicated layout of railways via three different footbridges. Finally emerging into zone 5 suburbia, we stopped for a quick drink at the Sovereign of the Seas, before heading off to the station for our journey home. There’s another pub nearby called the Daylight Inn, also named with William Willett in mind.