Sunday 15th June 2014
Toilets: Wattenden Arms, Kenley; The Fox, Coulsdon Common; public toilets at the car park at Farthing Downs; Coulsdon South Station (men’s on the platform, women’s outside the ticket gates). The Good Companions pub at Hamsey Green has been demolished.
We’re really enjoying the London Loop. I know it’s easy to keep saying “this was my favourite section so far”, but it really does seem to keep getting better and better at the moment. It was a day of woods and meadows, some of the best types of paths. We took a train from Victoria to Sanderstead, then the 403 bus to Hamsey Green. This only appears to work once per hour on Sundays, so check the timetables carefully before you go. Depending on where you’re travelling from, you might find it easier to go via Croydon. We had originally planned to walk ten miles to Banstead (although there are no trains from Banstead on Sundays, so we would’ve had to have taken a detour to Belmont to get a bus from there anyway), but we weren’t quite in the mood for it so we dropped out early. Compared to last weekend’s scorching sunshine, there were plenty of grey clouds today and it kept threatening to rain.
Anyway, we set off up the road before the path crossed some refreshingly open land, then became enclosed by trees. We passed a trig point, which I think might be the only one on the whole of the London Loop. There are a couple on the Capital Ring, on Barn Hill and Horsenden Hill.
After crossing a couple of railway lines we had a steep walk up New Barn Lane. Looking back to admire the view, we could see the chalky remains left behind from quarrying. Kinda like the White Cliffs of Kenley.
After passing the Wattenden Arms in Kenley, with some beautiful houses nearby, the next point of interest was this observatory belonging to Croydon Astronomical Society. I hope there’s some cool equipment inside, because it looks a bit of a mess from the outside. There were some horse boxes nearby, along with some other strange, unidentified buildings.
We stopped for a good lunch at the Fox Inn. In the car park next door was this poor old Mercedes vehicle which had clearly seen better days. There was a strong smell of burning, and a local council employee passed by and said it had only appeared within the last day or so. It was almost certainly a deliberate fire. Even the wheels had melted.
The path continued along the absolutely beautiful Happy Valley, again with a great feeling of open space. We hadn’t seen that many people out and about up until this point, but a lot more people were out enjoying the space here.
We continued through Devilsden Wood, then reached a car park at the edge of Farthing Downs. Again, with an amazing feeling of open space, it’s one of the largest downland areas left in Greater London. It even has its own herds of cattle and sheep to mow the lawn.
Towards the end, from our high position we could see many of London’s buildings including the Shard, the Gherkin and Canary Wharf. All of the first four sections of the London Loop has been enjoyable, but this one had a feeling of open space and freedom, more than any of the others. We ended our walk at Coulsdon South Station, from where the next section will hopefully be just as enjoyable.