London LOOP: 9. Hamsey Green To Banstead

M@
By M@ Last edited 82 months ago
London LOOP: 9. Hamsey Green To Banstead
The White Cliffs of London in Riddlesdown.
The White Cliffs of London in Riddlesdown.
The vast and ancient plains of Riddlesdown.
The vast and ancient plains of Riddlesdown.
The City of London, in rural Croydon. These guys get everywhere.
The City of London, in rural Croydon. These guys get everywhere.
Good advice.
Good advice.
A glider takes off from Kenley aerodrome.
A glider takes off from Kenley aerodrome.
A private observatory.
A private observatory.
The aptly named Happy Valley.
The aptly named Happy Valley.
The view from Farthing Downs. Click to zoom in and see the Shard.
The view from Farthing Downs. Click to zoom in and see the Shard.
Coulsdon is 14 miles from Westminster Bridge, we hear.
Coulsdon is 14 miles from Westminster Bridge, we hear.
An old farm cottage with the Shard just visible in the distance.
An old farm cottage with the Shard just visible in the distance.
More styles than a new opening on Redchurch Street.
More styles than a new opening on Redchurch Street.
Lavender fields. Think we picked the wrong time of year.
Lavender fields. Think we picked the wrong time of year.

In which we continue our trek around the 'walkers' M25', circumnavigating the capital on the London LOOP.

Ever walked the white cliffs of Croydon? Riddlesdown, in the outer environs of the Borough of Croydon and managed by the City of London, is an ancient place, criss-crossed with iron age tracks and peppered with Saxon burials. It also sports a sizeable gouge in its southern flank. A chalk quarry, sparkling in the unexpected autumnal sunshine. Vera Lynn never sang about these white cliffs, possibly because Riddlesdown doesn't rhyme with anything sane. Still, she's lodged in our head now, and will linger there for the remaining nine miles to Banstead.

The spectacular sight is the first of many on a particularly pleasing stretch of the London LOOP, the 152-mile walking route around London. Climbing out of the Riddlesdown Valley, we enter Kenley Common. This seemingly unremarkable field suddenly becomes exciting as a near-silent wing arcs overhead. It's a glider, and it's making to land at the adjacent Kenley aerodrome, one of the three key airfields that defended London during the Battle of Britain. A sneaky diversion over a style allows us to get within a few hundred metres of the runway and watch a fragile glider shoot into the skies.

A mile of fields and fences brings us to Happy Valley, a well-named beauty spot strangely devoid of picnickers on this most glorious of days. This leads to Farthing Downs, another vast strand of green belt managed by the City of London. The views have to rank among the best in the London area; although 14 miles away, the Shard and other towers can clearly be seen, gleaming in the sun. You should absolutely take the trouble to visit if you've never been to Farthing Downs before.

After grafting up and down the hills of Coulsdon, the remainder of the walk is a pleasant ramble through ancient trackways and country trails, past Her Majesty's Huuuuge Prison Highdown and on through the mandatory golf course to Banstead. Total length: 10.5 miles...all of them glorious.


View London LOOP in a larger map

To walk this route: catch the 403 bus from East Croydon to Hamsey Green (which sits on the LOOP). At the other end, trains run form Banstead direct or with change at Sutton to London Victoria (but there's no service on Sunday). More info on Walk London's pages.

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Last Updated 04 October 2011