We meet at Orpington again. This month there are only four of us walking, and our leader is David. We catch a bus to Hayes, and walk up through a recreation ground where there is a 'stone' by the side of the path that shows the line of the Meridian that passes through here. The ‘stone' is actually cast concrete, and not very attractive at that. You could mistake it for a parking bollard! At the top of the park there is a glimpse of a very large and grand old mansion House with circular turrets with castellated parapet walls. It is now part of Wickham Court School, so one might assume that the original mansion was Wickham Court. On our right is an old church and we walk down through the churchyard where amongst its many ancient gravestones is a cylindrical stone memorial surmounted by a large wooden cross. It commemorates five firefighters who were killed whilst on duty in 1941. At the lower end of the churchyard is a gateway into a field with a dozen or so horses grazing contentedly, and we walk down through the meadow and cross a busy road, and then walk across the grounds of a Rugby Club, and up a footpath at the edge of a wood. There are lots of bluebells just coming into flower. The path turns left and broadens as we walk through the deciduous woodland with its old oak trees towering above us, just coming into leaf, and swathes of bluebells and little white flowers all around us. It really is a lovely sight. And, what's more – there's no mud! The woodland is huge, and is called Three-halfpenny Wood.
We carry on walking, mostly through woodland, but sometimes through suburban parkland, but always with pleasant scenery, and it certainly seems to me that more of our route is uphill than downhill, a theory that is proved to be correct when, after a particularly steep path with steps is climbed through a de-wooded hillside, taking us up to an observation platform at the top of Addington Hill. Wow! what a view. We can see clearly right across to London, with all of its new skyscraper towers in the City and Docklands, and beyond to the Post Office Tower (or whatever they call it nowadays) and the steel arch of Wembley stadium. Even the millennium dome at Greenwich is visible. It was a bit of an effort getting up here, but we're all agreed that it was well worth it for this panoramic view. Even the sun has made an appearance at last, and keeps us warm while we eat our sandwiches. There are a lot of dog walkers around here, and most of them are quite chatty. The parapet wall of the observation platform has pointer grooves carved in it, pointing towards the various landmarks in the distance, and there would originally have been name plaques fixed to the wall describing the sights, but I suppose that they were bronze, so of course they have been stolen.
Fed and rested, we continue our walk through woodland with tall pine and beech trees, and I notice that there are a number of bat boxes and bird boxes fixed to the trees. We come to the tramlines of the Tramlink network, follow these for a short while, and then cross them to reach the grounds of Heathfield House, a large Victorian house with stunning elevated views across its beautifully kept terraced gardens, parkland and the countryside beyond.
The sun stays out all afternoon, and shines on us as we walk on through Bramley Park nature reserve, Little Heath woods, Selsdon Woods, and Pulpit wood, all the while following the London Loop footpath, and none of it is flat! The lovely spring scenery is always with us, and it really seems as though we are right out in the countryside. It has been a lovely walk.