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Petts Wood to Hayes

I did this walk on Sunday 15th April 2007, some two years since I had first walked this stage of the London Loop. It was a bright, sunny and still spring morning and a perfect day for walking. I had wanted to go walking on the Hertfordshire Way but my car was still sitting at Dagenham Motors as they tried to sort out the problems with the engine and this was an easy to get to alternative.

Jubilee Country Park, Petts Wood
Oak Tree, Jubilee Country Park
Farringdon Avenue, Southborough
(1) Jubilee Country Park, Petts Wood
(2) Oak Tree, Jubilee Country Park
(3) Farringdon Avenue, Southborough

From Petts Wood station I headed to the right down Queensway, continued ahead into Crest View Drive and then turned right down Tent Peg Lane to rejoin the route of the London Loop in the Jubilee Country Park, photo 1. In the park there were a large number of people taking their dogs out for an early morning stroll in the fine weather. It was almost a month since I had done any walking and in that time most of the trees had come into leaf, photo 2, making the countryside look much greener. The ground was also very, very dry as it had been quite a while since we had had any rain. Leaving Jubilee Wood the route heads down the driveway of St James Roman Catholic Primary School and heads across Southborough Lane and heads along down past the bungalows of Oxhawth Crescent, one of a number of suburban streets this stage of the London Loop passes through. The route crosses another road and continues ahead into Farringdon Avenue, photo 3.

Crofton Wood
St Giles Church, Farnborough
Field nr Farnborough
(4) Crofton Wood
(5) St Giles Church, Farnborough
(6) Field nr St Giles Church, Farnborough

After about 0.6 of a mile the path reaches the end of Farringdon Avenue and turns left to take a trackthat leads into Crofton Wood, photo 4. The path heads gently uphill at first and crosses a stream as it wends it way through the woodland. In the woodland there were quite a few clumps of violets in flower besides the path. Leaving the woodland the path turns right along a stony track that runs parallel to a stream on the left and some houses on the right. This leads down to cross a very busy road at Crofton. On the other side the path takes a tarmac footpath that runs besides houses. Reaching a road the London Loop continues straight ahead along Crofton Avenue. The route continues ahead past a footpath off to the right signposted Farnborough 1 mile and then takes the second footpath on the right, just past Le Tournei Gardens. This is also signposted Farnborough 1 mile. This path soon leads into Darrick Wood. From the woodland the path turns right besides a playing field, with tennis courts to the left, and heads along to reach an open space on the top of a hill. Here the path heads diagonally downhill to the right to where it crosses a road and then takes a short footpath that runs into Gladstone Road which carries the loop into the centre of the village of Farnborough. The path turns left in Farnborough down Church Road which unsuprisingly heads towards St Giles Church, photo 5. The route of the London Loop then passes through the churchyard before heading downhill over a patch of open grassland with woodland to the left, photo 6.

High Elms Country Park
Path besides Bogey Lane
Path below Holwood House
(7) High Elms Country Park
(8) Path besides Bogey Lane
(9) Path below Holwood House

At the foot of the hill the route turns left to pass through a small patch of woodland and then crosses Charlotte Lane. Here the London Loop passes into the High Elms Country Park. High Elms covers 250 acres of countryside combined with a 150 acre golf course that together form the High Elms estate, originally the country home of the Lubbock family.The route follows a broad tarmac path through the park to an area of terraced gardens, photo 7, on the way to which the route passes some handy public toilets. The route then heads on towards the golf club house down a broad grassy hedge lined path. The route passes round the left hand top edge of the golf club car park before crossing High Elms Lane and turning left to follow a path besides the edge of the golf course. Most of the route through the golf course is along a pleasant tree lined track with good views to the right back over the valley towards Farnborough. The route crosses a track and heads downhill towards a minor road, North End Lane, where the London Loop turns left for a short distance before turning right and heading uphill along Bogey Lane. A very short distance along the lane the London Loop takes a footpath off to the right that runs along the edge of a field parallel to Bogey Lane, photo 8. At the end of the field the path turns right to rejoin Bogey Lane which is then followed along a tree lined path down to a minor road. The London Loop turns right along this road as it makes its way downhill to the bottom of the valley. Leaving Farthing Street the route crosses back over Shire Lane before turning left along a footpath that runs parallel with the road for a short distance. This skirts round some houses which are hidden behind the trees in the left of photo 9, before turning right to head uphill over the other side of the valley.

Holwood House
Keston Spring
Keston Ponds
(10) Holwood House
(11) Keston Spring
(12) Keston Ponds

The path starts heading quite steeply uphill through some woodland and then alongside the grounds of the imposing Holwood House, photo 10. The grounds also contains the remains of a tree known as Wilberforce’s Oak, which is easily distinguished from the surrounding trees by the stone seat that was constructed in its shade. A Wilberforce diary entry in 1788 recorded on the seat reads: "At length, I well remember after a conversation with Mr. Pitt in the open air at the root of an old tree at Holwood, just above the steep descent into the vale of Keston, I resolved to give notice on a fit occasion in the House of Commons of my intention to bring forward the abolition of the slave-trade". The seat is just besides the path, on the other side of a fence, but when I went past it was in use by several people and thus I did not have the opportunity to take a photo. The route follows the edge of the estate grounds down to the Westerham Road which is crossed and then turns right along a footpath that runs parallel with the road through the trees at the edge of Keston Common. This makes its way along down to a car park and on towards Keston Spring, photo 11. There are two ponds at Keston and the route of the London Loop heads down the right hand side of the first pond, photo 12, and then along the left hand side of the second pond. The first pond was in the process of being drained when I went past in May 2007, a rather noisy pump disturbing the otherwise tranquil surroundings. The route crosses a road and heads down beside another pond and along a track that runs into Lake Road that leads into the village of Keston.

Hayes Common
View from Hayes Common
Gates Green Lane, Hayes
(13) Hayes Common
(14) View from Hayes Common
(15) Gates Green Lane, Hayes

Here the path turns right, crosses a road by a roundabout and then bears left down a gravel track at the top of Hayes Common, photo 13. The route then takes a path that runs parallel to the road high upon a ridge although the surrounding trees makes it impossible to see for any sort of distance, photo 14. Rejoining West Common Road the route bears left down Baston Manor Road, taking a path that runs alongside houses, some distance away from the road. This path is followed as it makes its way steadily downhill towards the A232 Croydon Road in Hayes where this stage of the London Loop ends at the junction of Gates Green Lane, photo 15.

At the end of stage three of the London Loop by Gates Green Lane the GPS made the total distance 7.6 miles as opposed to the 9 miles shown in the London Loop guidebook. From here a link path leads to Hayes Station although on the day I continued my walk along the Loop. Below is a picture of Keston Ponds from when I first walked this stage of the London Loop in January 2005.

(16) Keston Ponds

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