Saturday, 21 November 2015

London LOOP - Day 4

Coulsdon South to Tolworth 

12.47 miles / 381m Ascent / 436m Descent 

So here we are looping the LOOP again. After a few weeks of other commitments, we have another long weekend in which to explore the green spaces surrounding our capital.

The forecast for the weekend had been good, but it didn't look too promising as we set out at 6.00am amidst the first snow flurries of the winter. Little was settling though, and by the time we reached Euston it was at least dry - if a bit nippy!

For the first section, we were to be accompanied by our friends Nick and Celia, so a rendezvous at Victoria station was organised, followed by a full English to set us up for the day. Suitably fuelled, we set off from Coulsdon South station at around 10.30am. 

Leaving Coulsdon along a sunken path

The first stretch included a long-ish climb up on to the downs, from where great views across London awaited.

Looking across London, with the Wembley Arch clearly visible

We walked through woods, across fields and down lanes, past the Woodcote Smallholdings (built after WW1 as new homes for returning soldiers - Lloyd George's "land fit for heroes") and on to pass through Mayfield Lavender fields. 

Sign explaining about Lavender growing

The sun gradually broke through, and a beautiful autumn morning emerged. We stopped at The Oaks Park for coffee and jam doughnuts, and measured our progress for the morning and our prospects for the days to come.

Progress: Kingston Bridge tomorrow, Uxbridge Lock the day after

Soon after, at a bus stop somewhere near Banstead, we said goodbye to Celia and Nick. It had been a lovely morning, and a real change for us to walk a path like this with friends.

With just ourselves for company, we set off across Banstead Downs. Now, I must admit that for years I had only known of Banstead as the title of an Atomic Rooster song and had never really considered it as an actual town. The song, with its insistant refrain of "Please take me out of this place", suggested bad things, but from what we saw of the Downs (to be fair, mostly the golf course) it didn't seem too awful - although crossing the A217 was a slow business and we could see how it might live up to its sobriquet of the "Mad Mile".

The weather continued to improve during the afternoon, as the route took us through an alternating pattern of golf courses and expensive-looking houses. After passing through Warren Farm and Nonsuch Park, we eventually reached Ewell and stopped for a break in Bourne Hall Park - the end of stage 7 of the LOOP and our second of the day.

Lake, Bourne Hall Park

Then began the last couple of miles to Tolworth and our digs for the night. Walking alongside the Hogsmill River on mostly grassy paths, we spotted Little Egret, Tufted Ducks and a Heron to add to our earlier sightings of a Green Woodpecker and more wild Parakeets.

Stepping stones across the Hogsmill

Darkness was descending as we arrived in Tolworth, but we safely negotiated the underpass beneath the bust A3. We did a quick food shop and made for the hotel. Although it was still quite early, a busy week, another 5.30am start, a few miles walked and lots of fresh air combined to make a lazy evening a very attractive prospect after another good day on the LOOP.


  1. Aha!
    I've been looking forward to this.

    1. Thanks Alan. I'm posting another couple of days in brief as we go, then I'll update with more details and extra photos at the weekend.