The London Loop is a walking route of 150 miles length around the outer boundaries of London split into 24 sections. See tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/loop-walk for more details.
I first walked this section of the London Loop in April 2019. With the Mayfield lavender fields now in full bloom it seemed to be appropriate to walk it again and take opportunity of this chance.
In 2019 I combined this leg with part of section 5 but today I began at the official start at Coulsdon South station. After a good journey I arrived around 10.45 am, first with a short section through central Coulsdon but soon arrived at Clock House village with its magnificent oak tree. The pub, the Jack and Jill, was where I had planned to lunch in 2019 but found it closed for refurbishment which has now been completed.
Then follows a lengthy stretch along a narrow woodland path which eventually becomes open country and farmland with magnificent views of London in the distance.
Then Carshalton Road Pastures, a natural chalk grassland on the North Downs ridge. A short stretch of road then over a stile into a large field.
This brought me to the Mayfield Lavender fields, an extensive area farmed for lavender and in the summer open to the public. The London Loop follows a public right of way right through the centre and if you also pay the £4.50 entrance fee you are free to roam between the rows of lavender. A large notice at the entrance and another one at the other end lays down what you can and cannot do in the field.
The lavender was in full bloom and looked magnificent and there was quite a crowd of people wandering through it and enjoying the sight. All off limits for me though as a passer by on the public path.
At the far end, near the official entrance and car park, there was quite a set up with marquees for refreshments, loos, tractors to drive yourself around and a miniature train which was just about to leave with a full complement of passengers. Quite a profitable concern I imagine.
Nearby, and also close to the London Loop was a second lavender farm started just a few years ago, which according to its somewhat dated website offered a similar experience for free. But it seems it seems to have been a victim of lockdown and a recent post on Trip Advisor suggests it is now abandoned and derelict and there is a planning application to redevelop it as housing. If I had realised where it was I could have made a short diversion and checked.
Out of the lavender fields and across the road Oaks Park is entered. The Derby family who took over this estate in the 1700s developed it as a hunting and racing centre and The Oaks horse race takes its name from it. Now an area of woodland and formal gardens. There is a cafe here which I visited on my last trip so decided to lunch there and had a very satisfying lasagne. Last time it was very quiet but today was quite busy and they seem to have expanded.
Out of Oaks Park the route follows first Fairlawn Road and then Freedown Lane, an ancient green way and bridleway. Quite pleasant though further on not quite visible is High Down prison. Eventually after crossing the railway line it enters Banstead Downs with a mixture of woodland and the greens of Banstead Downs golf course.
The busy A217 Brighton Road has to be crossed with care to enter the second section of the golf course. Like last time I got lost here and overshot a path which was well hidden among the shrubbery but after a lengthy detour found it and soon afterwards the signpost directing me to Banstead station.
When I got the station I found the next train had been cancelled due to shortage of train crew so had a 40 minute wait for the next one then quite a slow journey back to Clapham Junction and home after a pleasant but somewhat exhausting day. It was good to visit this pleasant section of the London Loop again.