I had a bad feeling about today when my apparently on time train was cancelled in the time that it took me to go from the ticket hall to the platform. I nearly turned around and went home, but struggled on although this delay now put me firmly in rush hour. I was glad I did as it was a great day to be out for a walk.
I alighted at Ewell West and spent a few moments getting my bearings, before heading off into town to pick up the path proper. Today was one of those days where I saw several London LOOP information boards, none of which were much use as they all covered the bit I’d just done.
A few moments respite from the town centre traffic were had as I mooched through Bourne Hall Park.
I also saw my first distance signpost for a while, and it struck me how far I’ve come since Uxbridge – even though it seems really fresh in my mind. I’m a couple of walks away from Petts Wood, and that’s saying to me I’m nearly done. It’ll be a shame when the LOOP is finished, and without intending to my thoughts drifted off to what the next local walk project will be when it’s done.
I took a detour through the churchyard to have a look at the tower without a church and then resumed my course on the LOOP. Shortly I was in Nonsuch Park and looking out for signs of the former Tudor palace. Finding none, and not referring to the LOOP guidebook and so missing them, I carried on, dodging the constant raining down of horse chestnuts. A reminder of the changing of the seasons, on this last day of summer in the astronmonical calendar.
A right turn took me through an area of shaggy grass before the delights of the streets of East Ewell and Belmont. It was nice to step out of the residential area, but what awaited me was almost as bad – yet another golf course.
This one was worse than most in that there was no attempt at signage to show where the public footpath went, or even where the golf course wanted you to go. A useless “keep to the footpath” sign was all there was to be seen, but not the footpath itself. I followed trodden grass in the vague direction I wanted to go, which mostly went alongside trees, but this got harder when I crossed through a band of trees and found I had to cross the field, with no indication of which line to take or even where I was headed. Here the OS map in the guidebook helped, together with the sun (as I didn’t bring a compass today). I crossed the A217 and was then into part 2 of the golf course.
Here the guidebook itself was extremely confusing, largely because I’m doing this backwards. Descriptions of passing this fairway and that tee didn’t help. So I followed my nose and got it spot on. There was nothing to see here apart from some London drumlins, which I guess some might say are man made golfing challenges. The best that can be said of the traverse of the course was that there was almost no one about, and no flying golf balls.
The next section was some fairly bog-standard woodland and field-edge work, which I only noticed afterwards took me quite close to a prison, flirted with another A road and eventually brought me to Oaks Park.
I crossed the A road and found myself in Mayfield Lavender Fields. With the lavender now finished for the year, it was mostly green, but the pictures on their website are much more impressive. As I was crossing the field, I spied a bench under a tree, and although it was a bit early for lunch, it was the perfect spot so I stopped anyway.
I left the field, crossing three stiles in quick succession, crossed a road and then headed for Coulsdon. A lane behind a housing estate brought me to the Jack and Jill pub where I’d already decided I would take a short detour to bag the London Borough Top of Sutton. The residential street gave way to a wooded path and shortly a playing field, where the top is. I hung around long enough for the bag to be recorded on Social Hiking and retraced my steps. Once more walking along residential streets, the route heads downhill into Coulsdon. I paused opposite the station and checked the train options – from here and from the next possibility at Whyteleafe. Stopping here was clearly better logistically, so I bailed out, despite feeling that I had plenty of miles still left in my legs. A short section today, but it feels like this brings me back into line with the obvious staging posts on the LOOP – for the last few walks I’ve felt out of sync especially when meeting other LOOP walkers.