The London Loop Part 10: Bexley to West Wickham
Well is was such a pleasant day, I walked for most of it covering 16 miles or more than 25km, a bit longer than usual and two sections of the loop from the official guide.
The first section continues along the banks for the River Cray, upstream now the water is remarkable clear and the highlight of this section is the Five Arch Bridge above a weir in the Foots Cray nature Reserve.
A little further on is a useful signpost informing me I have only 44 1/4 miles to go on the London Loop, so I have completed 2/3 all ready!
Passing through Foots Cray a commuter village I expect the estate agents might call it, the route crosses Sidcup Place Park and then crosses the busy A20 before entering the first of many woods to be experienced today, Scadbury Park’s Little Wood.
From Little Wood the route then enters Park Wood and eventually Petts Wood, the woodland which in this case has given it’s name to the local suburb. The bridleways here are quite difficult to cross the lack of rain for the last month or so having hardened them into a tough craggy surface and I needed my walking boots !
Walking into the town of Petts Wood the path rapidly crosses three railway lines via three footbridges, before this section of the route finishes at the edge of the Jubilee Country Park.
I continued South walking through the residential streets of the “other” Farnborough towards High Elms Country Park.
High Elms Country Park was a nice spot to take a break and grab an ice cream, walking the loop during the final stages of lockdown (hopefully) you really miss the ability to pop into a pub for lunch ! The Park was the site of a large Manor House owned by the Lubbock family which was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1967, the foundations of the building are still visible as is the Eton Fives court.. every house should have one!
As the route of the Loop starts to finally head West I was becoming more and more aware of the sound of aircraft operating out of Biggin Hill just a few kilometres south of the route, and was pleased to spot one of the Heritage Hangars two seat Spitfires in the circuit… (must do that one day…)
The route climbs onto the North Downs and passes the Wilberforce Oak, the site of a conversation between William Wilberforce and Prime Minister William Pitt the younger that began the process to abolish slavery in 1788.
The final section of the walk skirts the southern edge of Hayes common, finishing rather unceremoniously in Coney Hall, just a kilometre away from Hayes BR Station.