LONDON LOOP STAGE 5
Hamsey Green to Banstead
I walked this section on the 11th March 2005. After catching the train to East Croydon station it was a short walk to Fairfield Halls to catch the 403 bus to Hamsey Green to resume the walk. I was quite looking forward to this stage of the walk as it passes through Coulsdon, an area where I lived for a few years as a young child in the late 60's and early 70's. Two memories that sprang to mind were buying a Monoply set from a toy shop on the main road and going to cubs in a church hall. Funny the things one remembers. The weather was grey and overcast as I got off the bus at Hamsey Green and remained that way all day.
Leaving Hamsey Green a short road stretch of walking leads to open countryside above the Whyteleafe Valley, passing an old trig point, something you don't see too often in the London area. The first photo is of the trig point and the second the view across the Whyteleafe valley towards Kenley which is the direction the loop is heading. The path descends into the valley and then climbs steeply up the other side towards Kenley Common. The third photo is looking back towards where the previous one was taken from on top of the hill opposite.
The paths then skirts Kenley Airfield and crosses a short urban stretch to Coulsdon Common and then heads on into Happy Valley, photo's four and five above, and on to Farthing Downs for a very pleasant walk down in Couldson. Some of the slopes in Happy Valley are quite steep and as a result of the recent snow there were a number of notices warning people of the dangers of tobogganing in certain area's. Photo's six, seven and eight were taken on the approach to Cousldon from the top of the down. Major roadworks where taking place on the A23 in Coulsdon which made crossing the road rather hazardous and dusty. There then followed a rather long stretch of uphill road walking towards Little Woodcote. The rest of the walk was generally off road. After passing the little Woodcote estate, where photo nine was taking looking North toward central London, the path gradually heads towards Banstead common. On of the features of the London loop so far has been the occasionally views that appear across central London with all the main landmarks laid out in a line. Near to where photo nine was taken I also got my first view of the new Wembley stadium in the distance which gave some indication that I was making good westward progress on the walk.
Photo ten is of a large tree branch which had fallen down over the path of the London loop narrowly missing crushing a stile as it fell. Photo eleven shows a special equine crossing over the A2022 road where the crossing symbols are a green horse rather than a green man. The next photo shows a London loop sign post in Oaks Park. The next photo is of a group of snowdrops I spotted in woodland on the Banstead downs just past the Highdown prison. The following photo is of the loop path on Banstead downs and the final photo is of the loop signpost to Banstead station which also shows a distance travelled of 29 miles from Petts Wood with 10 and half miles to Kingston Bridge and 30 miles to Uxbridge Lock.
Apart from the rather long uphill slog out of Coulsdon this was another very green walk with only limited amount of road walking within built up area's and once again surprisingly hilly. Happy Valley is definitely deserving of further exploration at some point with a circular walk to the North Downs Way. Banstead station seemed rather isolated and run down but fortunately I had only a short wait for a train back to central London.
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