WANDLE WANDERINGS: If you fancy venturing out for a shortish (two miles) amble and a pub lunch at an historic inn, loyal reader KEN TOWL has a suggested route that should charm and delight
A few weeks ago, I was cycling around Warlingham and I came across a 16th century inn.
I have lived in Croydon for nine years and yet had no idea I was so close to such a wonderful pub.
I decided to return, but on foot. It seemed the ideal destination for a stroll in the country. A look at the map confirmed that the pub was, although in the most bucolic of settings, within a couple of miles of the end of the tram line.
Unfamiliar as I am with any sort of “app”, I committed the route to memory and set off.
This is how I got from the New Addington tram stop to the White Bear, which is in a place known as Fickleshole:
My journey to the White Bear started out from beside a black bear.
There is a patch of green to the right of the tram stop with wooden sculptures of an eagle, a dolphin, a gorilla and a bear. Take some time to admire them, if you like that sort of thing.
If not, then follow the path near the bear, the one that skirts the left-hand side of the green.
This takes you to North Downs Road. This is not the walking route suggested by Google Maps, in case you’re wondering, but it was the route that I took, and probably offers a good deal more interest.
Turn left into the road and then right down the footpath that runs along the side of the recycling plant.
After about 50 yards the path forks and you should go to the left.
There is a map here that shows you the layout of Hutchinson’s Bank, a nature reserve that stretches away to your left, parallel with Featherbed Lane below. There’s many locals who can spend whole mornings or afternoons, even whole days meandering around Hutchinson’s Bank, its wildflowers and butterflies.
Follow the track through the woods till it forks.
Take the right fork, heading downhill.
This will take you out of the woods and into the meadow where the Widlife Trust is promoting the growth of wild flowers.
Make your way down to the path below using the very visible gates to traverse the levels easily and avoid any fences, and follow the trail that runs a little above and parallel with Featherbed Lane.
After about half a mile, not quite at the end of Hutchinson’s Bank, you will spy an opening to your right that goes on to Featherbed Lane.
Take it, but take it with care; you are about to step out into a road unblessed with footpaths.
Turn left (so that you carry on in the same direction as before) and follow the road for about another half-mile.
When you see the White Bear on your right you will have arrived. If you are an ale drinker, do not be disappointed by the lack of real ale taps on the bar. Once your eyes adjust to the gloom inside, you will see that the beer is poured from barrels at the back.
You could choose to sit inside, out the front where the life size plaster polar bear guards the main entrance, or out the back where they have a burger shack (cash only!) when the weather is good.
An afterthought: If you consume too much of the White Bear’s liquid offerings, you might want to consider getting a taxi back to New Addington tram stop. Featherbed Lane does not look like the safest place for the inebriated pedestrian.
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