Sunday 25th March 2012
5 miles approx
Toilets: Eltham Park South, Eltham Palace
On we continued with our next section of the Capital Ring. We headed down a tree-lined avenue at the side of the woods, before crossing the bridge over the A2. We then headed into Eltham Park South, where we found exactly what we’d expected to find in a park: an old office chair. Obviously.
We headed down a track called Butterfly Lane, where this cat was basking in the sunshine. Two people came along walking their dogs, and the cat got very suspicious and disappeared off into the undergrowth.
There were stables to the left.
At the end of the track we turned right, passing this interesting tree.
We passed Conduit Head, a structure that originally controlled the flow of water to Eltham Palace nearby, and is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Unlike many such things, you can walk right up to this one and touch it.
After some road walking, the next point of interest was Eltham Palace, originally a country house for the monarchy, and now restored as a tourist attraction. There are lovely arches over the moat, and some fish below. We found that by asking very, very nicely, we were able to go in to use the toilets without paying the entrance fee. It looks like a nice place to visit, though, and there is also a cafe inside.
This building across the road was originally the Lord Chancellor’s lodgings, but the guide book tells me it is now divided up into three separate houses. You can’t really tell from looking at it, though.
We headed down King John’s Walk, where we passed yet more horses. There were also views over London and we could see the O2, the gherkin building and the Shard.
The next part of the walk was slightly disappointing as we were walking down a pathway that was fenced in on both sides. The guide book says it’s “calf-deep in fallen leaves in late autumn and winter.” Even today, near the end of March, there were plenty of leaves for us to crunch through.
When we got to the turning for Grove Park Station, we decided to carry on for a little bit, in order to reduce our mileage for the next section when we do it. It was mainly road walking, and we passed the grand building that was formerly Grove Park Hospital, and is now a residential building.
Just before crossing the railway, we passed Grove Park Nature Reserve. London has quite a number of these little nature reserves located next to railway lines. Many of them seem to be gated and locked most of the time, so it was lovely to find one that’s open to the public.
We crossed a slightly spooky caged bridge over the railway, from which we had a view over the nature reserve, as well as Hither Green Cemetery on the other side.
We headed down Reigate Road and reached Grove Park Station. There’s a pub marked on the OS map in the guidebook, but unfortunately it’s long gone. The Baring Hall Hotel is all boarded up, and looks like it has been for quite some time. There was a greasy spoon cafe open on Downham Way, and a few takeaway places, as well as a supermarket a few doors down from the station on Baring Road.
It was a lovely day out, and could be combined with section 1 or 3 if you start early enough.