London Loop: Petts Wood to Hayes (Jubilee Country Park to West Wickham Common)

Sunday 19th May 2014

10 miles including station links

Toilets: Petts Wood Station; Pub in Farnborough; Church Road, Farnborough; High Elms Country Park; Fox Inn pub, Keston; The Greyhound pub, Keston; New Inn pub, Hayes (participates in Community Toilet Scheme).

Finally, a proper walk!  I’ve spent the last six months up to my eyeballs in coursework deadlines and exams.  Going for a proper walk again was a huge relief.  It was an absolutely beautiful day, with brilliant weather and blue skies, although all my photos came out really badly.

I think I’ve mentioned before that the London Loop is not always favoured among walkers, on account of it being not quite rural enough, and that you might as well either do the Capital Ring, or go out into some proper countryside.  I have also mentioned during some of the canal sections that sometimes, being on the “forgotten fringes at the edge of town” is quite interesting in itself and not necessarily a wishy-washy option.  However, a lot of this walk had a properly rural feel to it.  The route went down quiet residential roads and passed in and out of woodland.  Jubilee Country Park had a great feeling of open space.  As for the woodland later on, I never tire of posting photos like this because it’s my favourite type of footpath.

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I’m going to make a complaint about the London Loop, though: the signposting isn’t excellent, and we knew that already, but it has this annoying habit of having signposts about a minute after you actually need them.  You’ll get to a fork in a path or a confusing bit, spend five minutes looking at the map and working out where you’re supposed to go, and only then do they tell you “yes, it’s this way”.  I’ve lost count of the number of times this has happened, the number of times I’ve wanted to uproot signposts and put them about fifty metres earlier.  So annoying.

We passed through Farnborough, where the High Street had a villagey feel.

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Unfortunately we took a wrong turning after this, missing the public toilet on Church Road.  We made our way through a field back to the proper route, emerging into the grounds of St Giles the Abbot church.

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The next point of interest was High Elms Country Park, which forms part of the High Elms Estate.  Once a private country estate, it’s now owned by Bromley Council.  It was advertised as having public toilets, but the gates were well and truly locked when we got there – very useful for a busy Sunday afternoon.  Luckily there was a loo at the cafe.  We sat outside in the grounds and had a picnic lunch.

Further down the path we passed the High Elms Clockhouse, originally used for letting Victorian farm workers know when their lunch break was over.

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Next up was the delightfully-named Bogey Lane, a lovely winding route.

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One thing I failed to take an even halfway decent photo of was the Wilberforce Seat, where William Wilberforce decided the slave trade should abolished.

There was a bit of a change of scenery at Keston Common, which was a lot more open and contained springs at the source of the River Ravensbourne.  Lots of people were stopping by the ponds and enjoying the sunshine.

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In Keston itself we stopped for a drink at the Fox Inn.  About a minute after leaving, we noticed the Greyhound, which might just have been a better pub.  Always the way.

The path continued through a narrow stretch of woodland full of interesting trees.

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We ended at Hayes, from where we took the train back to Charing Cross.  If you’re looking up train times, make sure you go for Hayes (Kent), not to be confused with Hayes & Harlington.

I know I haven’t exactly sold this walk, but it was actually amazing.  It’s just that I was too busy going “OMG, no more revision!  Look, trees!” to make enough interesting notes about the route.  It’s highly recommended.

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About Karen

One foot in front of the other
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