diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The London Loop
[section 7]
Ewell to Banstead Downs (3½ miles)

Section 7 of the London Loop runs along the southwestern edge of the capital between Surrey and Sutton, out in the golf course and double garage zone. It's not a classic, to be honest, with too much along residential streets and not enough green. But it's also the shortest leg of the London Loop, ideally combined with one of the adjacent sections to create a better walk. I plumped for the single option, saving the neighbouring stretches for a sunnier day.

Round-London walks are generally described clockwise, in all of the guidebooks and the accompanying material. So you have to be slightly brave to walk one anti-clockwise, relying solely on maps and signposts and not the list of written instructions. I was slightly brave, and promptly got lost twice negotiating the streets of Ewell. This Surrey town should probably be in London, all geographical things being equal, but its residents are no doubt very pleased it's not. The Loop takes you first (or last, depending) into the grounds of Bourne Hall Park. These ornamental gardens used to be the grounds of an 18th century mansion, of which only some ponds and the "Dog Gate" survive. Instead the council have landed a flying saucer on the lawns, a 1970s model containing a library, meeting rooms and the local museum. It's a bold architectural statement for a suburban borough, although closed on Bank Holiday Mondays so I couldn't go inside.

The Centre of Ewell is skipped, mostly, for a diversion up an ancient sidestreet. This boasts a church tower without an attached church, and a school that's pretending to be a castle. There's better to come on the other side of the Ewell bypass, assuming you get across alive. On the slopes ahead are the remains of Henry VIII's Banqueting House - now little more than a raised brick footprint with trees growing on top, but formerly a grandstand for the royal hunting party. Don't expect great things, but there's more here than you'll see further up the path at Nonsuch Park. A trio of obelisks marks the site of Henry's palace, planned to exceed Hampton Court but demolished a century later to pay off a mistress's gambling debts. I've blogged about Nonsuch Palace before... which is just as well, because the Loop manages to miss this historic site by 100 metres.

The path from the Banqueting House to the Palace is the nicest on the walk. It meanders through woodland, though only briefly, and the woods aren't much to see when spring has yet to take hold. Indeed there's probably a nice woodland footpath like this somewhere near you, it's just that the rest of the walk doesn't quite match up. Nonsuch Park is a splendid open space, landscaped and sprawling, much frequented by locals with canines in tow. But the Loop hogs the avenue down one side, then turns off before the end to head south. Here two parallel tracks head off through the trees - these the sole remains of an interwar development that was never completed. This entire area was scheduled to become yet another housing estate, until Hitler and then the Green Belt intervened. The broad expanse of Warren Farm, up next, therefore survives to give inhabitants of the next housing estate somewhere to walk their dogs.

It's the next housing estate we're going to explore next, and then the next, and then the next. This isn't the Loop's finest hour, unless you like trudging along a mile and a half of residential streets. It's especially galling at one point to see open fields ahead, but the designated route has to divert up yet another road because there's no public right of way. The local residences are pleasant, even aspirational, starting off with houses where Reggie Perrin might have lived and moving up to detached villas that are much more CJ. Some have fine front gardens with clumps of crocuses attempting to burst forth, but a considerable number have paved over the lot to accommodate more than the average household's quota of cars. Learner drivers appear to be endemic around here, and to be fair the broad avenues are ideal for beginners, but at least one private road has felt it necessary to put up a big sign warning them off.

And then, at last, some proper green. Admittedly it's only a golf course, with greens that are immaculately mown, but that's welcome relief from pavement bashing. The path cuts diagonally across the fairway, which you'd think might be dangerous, except it seems nobody plays golf on freezing bank holidays. Not a single player was out on the course, the lazy souls, so there was no need for the path to restrict itself to the neighbouring thickets. A signpost signalled the start of section 6, which looked appealing, but I'm saving that, remember. Instead I headed a short distance to Banstead station, thankfully timed to meet the hourly train on this backwater single-track branch line. There are better ways to spend an Easter Monday - indeed anyone selecting Loop section 7 to fill a day off probably has some serious social problems. But that's another section ticked off. I'm almost halfway round now, I'll get there in the end.

» London Loop section 7: official map and directions; map
» Who else has walked it? Stephen, Oatsy, Tim, Londonist, Mark, Paul, Paul, Tetramesh, Richard
» See also section 3, section 4, section 5, section 9, section 12, section 15, section 17, section 20, section 23, section 24

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream