Walking the London Loop – Section 4

London Loop Section 4 – Hamsey Green to West Wickham

It was so great to get back out on the London Loop the other week, picking up at the end of Section 5 at Hamsey Green and continuing along Section 4 to West Wickham. Note that I’m walking in the anti-clockwise direction and started on Section 17 at Enfield Lock in January 2018. This does make following the excellent Transport for London maps and directions a little challenging at times, but I’ve got used to reading them in reverse over the last three-and-a-half years.

London Loop sign - Section 4 Hamsey Green

This was a glorious section of the London Loop – I know it probably sounds as if I say that about them all, but some are certainly more bucolic than others and crossing the southern highlands of greater London in sections 5 and 4 from Coulsdon South to West Wickham has been quite stunning. And easily the most physically demanding sections that I’ve walked so far.

The highlight of section 4 was undoubtedly the incredible views back across the London basin from Addington Hills. But the field path that led from Kingswood Lane in Hamsey Green then progressed through Puplet Wood and Selsdon Wood was a real treat. As was seeing the Croydon Trams at Coombe Lane, and crossing Fallen Oak Field. All this in the London Borough of Croydon. And that’s the great charm of the London Loop – it reveals the city anew to you as you walk through great woods and meadows, pass by working farms, and tramp across the commons. You realise just how green the capital is – and what was done to preserve these precious open spaces.

September 2021 is the 20th Anniversary of the London Loop – what better time to get out on London’s orbital path.

London River Walk – from the Ravensbourne to the Beck

The idea was Iain’s, noticing that I rarely ventured south of the river he suggested a walk through his manor, Beckenham, following the River Beck. In the course of deciding where to start we somehow settled on the mouth of the River Ravensbourne at Deptford Creek.

River Ravensbourne

River Ravensbourne

We worked our way South through morning Greenwich and over Deptford Bridge, through Brookmill Park to Lewisham, where we gave a nod to the River Quaggy. The passage through Ladywell took me back to the walk I did for This Other London in autumn 2012 to Herne Hill Velodrome that passed this way over Ladywell Fields. Where I peeled off that day over Blythe Hill, Iain and I carried on beside the waters of the Ravensbourne across Catford Bridge to the Linear Park where the Ravensbourne departs and we followed the Pool River to Bellingham.

confluence of The Beck and the Chaffinch Brook

confluence of The Beck and the Chaffinch Brook

In Cator Park, Beckenham (after a David Bowie detour) we find the confluence of the Pool and the Beck (and also see the Chaffinch Brook) and from this point, entering early evening and pushing on for 15 miles for the day, we are now fixed on the source of The Beck.

Families are out in force perambulating around the broad waters of Kelsey Park, it’s a good time to stop for ice cream. It gives us the legs to push on through outer suburbia bound for Shirley.

source of the River Beck

source of the River Beck

I won’t spoil the end of the video, but the moment of finding the source, not quite where we expected, was a moment of mild euphoria. 21-miles river walking through South London, two middle-aged men gazed with love and amazement at a trickle of water dribbling from a pipe in a narrow strip of woodland in Shirley.


Cryptic Symbols of Croydon

This may superficially appear to be the title page of book about the geology of Croydon but there is something distinctly esoteric about that symbol.
What hermetic secrets are encoded in the Wandle Gravels of Croydon?
I’m off to find out.