We have set up a sub-group of the Longer Walks Group to walk the London Outer Orbital Path, a 150 mile route around the periphery of the capital. We are dividing the walk into 14/15 sections each being between about 10 miles in length, starting south of the Thames at Erith and finishing at Purfleet near the Dartford Crossing.
All walks take a place on Wednesdays.
To begin with at least, there will be a maximum group size of 12 on each walk, including the 2 group leaders (Ruth Hayes and Betty McAskie).
Please note that only members who have registered with the Longer Walks Group are accepted on the London Loop walks. You may register by completing this form.
You must agree to comply with the Longer Walks Group Etiquette Document.
Please read the walk descriptions carefully before booking. A number of the walks require train journeys south of the Thames to reach the start point.
On each walk we will take breaks, including one for lunch approximately mid-way through. This means all walkers will need to bring their own packed lunches and enough drinking water to last the whole day. There may be the possibility for further refreshment at the end of some walks.
The walk starts from Bexley Rail Station at 10.30 (good connection from London Bridge at 9.49). We soon rejoin the Cray River, walking along a particularly attractive stretch with an ornamental lake, before entering an open grassy area known as Sidcup Place, overlooked by a stand of magnificent giant redwood trees. After crossing the A20 we enter Scadbury Park nature reserve with its woods and meadows and the possibility of a small detour to see a moated 13 century manor house. After a stroll through the National Trust’s Willett Memorial Wood, we cross open fields to Jubilee Country Park, from where we head towards the end of this walk at Petts Wood Station. As before we will take a break for lunch mid-way through the walk, so all walkers will need to bring their own packed lunches and sufficient drinking water to last the day.
The group meets at Petts Wood Rail Station at 10.30 (trains from Charing Cross, London Bridge or Victoria) from where the walk starts. After retracing our steps to cross Jubilee Park Country Park, we head south-west through suburban streets to emerge into an area of woodland called Sparrow Wood and then Roundabout Wood. Another short stretch of road walking sees the Loop emerge into Darrick Wood, before suburbia returns briefly as we cross Farnborough. By now we are beyond the built up area of Bromley and remain in open countryside for the rest of the walk. We soon enter High Elms Country Park and as we climb towards the Clockhouse should be rewarded with good views to north and south. This part of Kent is full of history and interest. At the summit of High Elms is a seat where Wilberforce and Pitt discussed the slave trade, while Down House the family home of Charles Darwin and the famous RAF base of Biggin Hill are both nearby. By now we have turned to head west to Keston Court. From here our final stretch is downhill across Keston Common and then along the edge of Hayes Common before we leave the Loop to catch the train home from Hayes station in West Wickham. As usual, we will take a break for lunch mid-way through the walk, so all walkers will need to bring their own refreshments and plenty of drinking water, particularly if the weather is hot. Station at 10.30 (trains from Charing Cross, London Bridge or Victoria) from where the walk starts.
Loop 4 – 18 July 2018 : booking opens 06 July 2018
Loop 5 – 01 August 2018 : booking opens 20 July 2018
Loop 6 – 15 August 2018 : booking opens 03 August 2018
Loop 7 – 05 September 2018 : booking opens 17 August 2018
Loop 8 – 19 September 2018 : booking opens 07 September 2018
Loop 9 – 03 October 2018 : booking opens 21 September 2018
London Loop Route 1 : Erith to Bexley
We marked the start of our 150 mile journey in Riverside Gardens, which as the name suggests borders the Thames. Sadly though, we soon lost sight of the river as the route took us through Erith, past some industrial units before we reached it again. From here the Loop sets off along the Thames for a while, sharing its path with National Cycle Network Route 1 and the Thames Path extension.
With the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in front of us, the landscaped landfill sites on the north bank, we followed the path alongside its many recycling plants. This stretch provided not the leisure and pleasure activities we associate with walking alongside the Thames, but formed its industrial core, notably transporting and managing the rubbish that we Londoners generate. I heard a number of terms being used to describe this stretch including: desolate, bleak and perhaps my favourite – dystopian. Added to this sense of melancholy was the forlorn sight of a horse being tethered to a stake. But the sky was vast, and after a while many of us found some strange beauty in our surroundings. At the very least there certainly was a feeling of space, and with the hawthorn bushes beginning to show their leaves, a sense of spring around the corner. At Crayford Ness we headed off south alongside the Darent River on a high and windswept grassy path which together with the brutalist Darent Barrier forms part of the flood barrier arrangements for the Thames. We then reached our third river of the day: the Cray and followed that until we were faced with more breakers yards, scrap merchants and large lorries delivering more rubbish to be treated as we approached Crayford.
Here we stopped for a picnic lunch, just outside Lindy Lou’s Tea Room – apparently a pun on its origin as a public toilet. Heading off towards Bexley via the Hall Place Park some of us noticed, at its entrance, slender columns carved with shells and ferns, remnants of the canopy of the Crayford Cinema. And it was just after this that John averted a near disaster; the path was suddenly blocked by drainage works. With satnav at hand he was able to navigate a diversion over the busy A2 and finally into Bexley.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of walks, but that probably isn’t the point. A long journey such as the Loop will have its high and lows, and if we want to learn more about the outer fringes of London then this was a good starting point. But what the day highlighted for me was our disregard for nature: we were continually affronted by rubbish lining the path and litter choking urban streams.
On a lighter note, well done everyone for finishing it, especially those walking with injuries or recovering from illnesses … and we made a few friends along the way.