WANDLE WANDERER: At a rare sighting of the sun, and with the promise of spring finally arriving some time soon, KEN TOWL sets off on the latest stage of his exploration of the London LOOP, from Coombe Lane to Hamsey Green
New readers, and walkers, can start here. That’s the beauty of the LOOP, a circular route that takes even the least intrepid rambler all the way around the outside of Greater London.
The route as mapped out runs about 140 miles from Erith near the Dartford crossings to Purfleet on the other side of the Thames. It is divided into 15 sections, each around 10 miles long. So far, we’ve walked Section 3, in two bite-sized chunks, and then the first part of Section 4, as we arrived in Croydon.
We left the LOOP last time at Coombe Lane tram stop, so we can rejoin it just as easily.
Cross the tram lines and follow the path that runs between the trees between the line and the road. Where it emerges on to the busy A212, cross over and, a few yards along, enter the Croydon Ecology Centre and Heathfield House on your right.
Follow the LOOP signs down through the trees and take the steps down to the pond. Before following the path around this and up to the right, take in the view over the fields to the left. You are standing by a restored early 19th century farmhouse sitting in gardens that were set out by Raymond Riesco in the 1920s.
The rhododendrons are starting to flower around now. The signs take us up to the car park and the exit on to Riesco Drive, a short street occupied by a total of five houses. Since I have to pass them anyway, I leave each of them a Labour Party leaflet that reminds them that Labour in Croydon has brought the libraries back into council control (after the Conservatives’ disastrous flirtation with outsourcing and Carillion) as well as the fact that the council elections are on Thursday May 3.
A kissing gate takes us into Bramley Bank nature reserve, a wood of oak, ash and sycamore. After a pleasant walk through the wood we emerge on to the edge of Monks Hill housing estate.
To the right is a railing and on the other side of that a footpath into Littleheath Wood. After a few yards the path drops to the right into an attractive open space.
On this walk you are essentially walking through a large tract of residential South Croydon but doing so by passing through ingeniously connected footpaths and woods.
Cross the open space and head past the bunch of birches on to a track through the woods then up to the left where the Vanguard Way, a 66-mile designated long-distance walking route that goes from Croydon to the Seven Sisters, intersects with this part of the LOOP. I make sure I follow the right waymarkers and not to head off to sunny Sussex-by-the-sea, at least not yet. That can be a hike for another time.
Trudging uphill here you will notice that nearly all the trees are chestnuts. This is a great place to forage for sweet chestnuts in October.
The LOOP emerges at the bottom of Edgecoombe Road where it meets Addington Road. Here I decide to deliver the rest of my leaflets to all of the houses in Edgecoombe Road.
One resident is sitting outside his house, taking in the sun. He asks me what I am doing and I introduce myself as one of the Labour candidates for the local elections on May 3. He says he will vote for me since he hasn’t seen anyone else.
Around the corner I check out St Francis Church where there is going to be an election hustings meeting tomorrow (Tuesday April 17). This is curious. I happened to find it on the Monks Hill Community Association Facebook page, but I have no idea who, if anyone, has been invited or what chance we will have to speak. Tuesday will be interesting.
But we have a walk to do.
Cross Addington Road and take Ashen Vale. Where this curves to the right, take the footpath straight ahead. This takes you out of the ward in which I am a candidate, Selsdon and Addington Village, and across a couple of residential roads.
It is downhill from here to Selsdon Wood. Enter the wood via a stile, take a dog leg to the right and then it is uphill through the wood.
At the end take the trail to the right putting the golf club on your left. By the end of April a lot of the woodland floor along here will be covered with bluebells.
You emerge at the entrance to Farleigh Golf Club. Here, turn left, through the club and along the Vanguard Way to Newhaven, or go straight ahead on the LOOP along a footpath parallel with the road. Where this joins the road, cross and take the track between Elm Farm and Allesley Farm.
This becomes a footpath through attractive rolling farmland that ends at Kingswood Lane where there seem to be buckets hanging up in some of the trees. Bat boxes, perhaps? Take this path to Hamsey Green.
On the right hand side of the road is the very bottom of the borough of Croydon. To your left is Tandridge, Surrey.
At Limpsfield Road you have completed this stage. The Good Companions used to sit across the road but it has been demolished and the site is now sought after by supermarkets.
You can either get the 403 back up to Croydon or, like me, turn left and walk half a mile or so down to Warlingham and the attractive White Lion with its range of beers.
The bus can wait.
After walking a little under five miles, a beer in the garden on the first really sunny day of the year was a pleasure which my clumsy prose cannot adequately describe.
- Click here to catch up with Ken Towl’s first section of the LOOP walk
- And click here for the second LOOP walk, from Farnborough to Hayes
- For the start of LOOP Section 4, from Hayes to Coombe Lane, click here
- Check out Ken Towl’s previous wanderings along the Wandle and elsewhere around Croydon, and his visits to some of the area’s better pubs
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