We are now half way round the London Loop having started at Cockfosters (clockwise), soon after we came out of Lockdown. Our most recent walk took us from Hamsey Green to Coulsdon South station. It was one of our shorter stages so far, dictated partly by the length of the following stages, and to ensure easy access to trains at start/finish. We had a really good turnout and a lovely, dry and bright day.

Much of the walk cut through commons owned by the City of London. The first was Riddlesdown. Before the next, Kenley common, we stopped for a short break to muster the energy to climb the zigzag flight of steps. Here we watched a glider plane soar above us. Nearby was Kenley Aerodrome, the last of London’s Battle of Britain fighter stations to survive in its World War 11 form. Then, soon after, we passed what might be the world’s tiniest observatory, belonging to Croydon Astronomical Society. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open for visitors.

On reaching Coulsdon common we were at the highest point of the whole London Loop (177m/580ft). The group had a picnic whilst dotted around the Green opposite the Fox pub (somewhat short on seating). Some of us washed that down with a swift half in the lovely old pub.

After lunch we walked through aptly named Happy Valley, into Devilsden wood and followed a trail up onto Farthing Downs, with panoramic views of London’s skyline. These chalky grasslands are one of Europe’s rarest and most species rich habitats. The area is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Following a leisurely walk, with the square tower of Cane Hill Asylum to our left (now residential), the belfry of St Andrew’s Church and transmitters in the distance. Finally, with a row of brick-tiled houses on our left, we reluctantly left the beautiful downs and made our way downhill to the train station and off homewards.

Next stage Coulsdon South to Ewell!