Dave Sergeant

This circular walk south of Coulsdon from Inner London Ramblers explores Farthing Down, Happy Valley, the North Downs way and Chaldon village. I thought I had done much of this before but it was largely new and a great walk. At 10.5 miles it is longer than my usual walks and with few opportunites for break points I decided to do it in one session. The extended daylight in the summer makes this possible.

The walk starts and finishes at Coulsdon South station, which I did via Clapham Junction, and arrived at 1045 am. A short walk from there took me to the entrance to Farthing Down. I would exit via this gate at the end, but for now I joined the path in the woodland at the left and was immediately in rich woodland. This section follows the Downlands Circular walk for a mile or so.

Various signposts and markers were found along the path and tantalising glimpses of Happy Valley appeared from time to time. But the directions were a little unclear and I eventually strayed off the path. Help from passers by eventually got me via the nearby housing estate down to Coulsdon Road and along there to rejoin the route near the Fox public house. Since this section had taken longer than expected it was a convenient time to stop for lunch there rather than at the Harrow a bit further on as planned.

Picking up the route again after lunch there was first a bit of open ground then a bollard marking the Corporation of London boundary. The next section of the walk would be in Surrey rather than London.

Green Lane is followed south for a mile and it certainly fitted its name, a lovely path through the trees. At the end, having crossed a busy road, a short detour is made through a rather nice housing estate.

Next a narrow country lane, Willey Park Lane. At the end of this is Willey Park Farm. The guide mentions an impressive array of radio antennae, but these were just a collection of various vhf dipoles. Far more interesting were the bits of a helicopter and aeroplane outside and a rather rusty tilt over tower. A company which salvages aircraft parts it seems is based here.

At Willey Park Farm the North Downs Way is joined and followed for a while. Pleasant walking with some good views over the Surrey countryside.

A trig pillar is seen off the path, 202m (663 ft). At the adjacent summit I turned off North Downs Way, some more excellent views from here.

I now headed back north along another country lane. Tollsworth Manor is passed, a magnificent 15th century house. A poster outside advertised their forthcoming open garden day which judging from the front would be well worth seeing.

After again crossing the busy Rook Lane, then along a field the other side, there is a short diversion through the wooded Alderstead Heath. Then a path across an enormous field at the far end of which was a stile which I rather struggled with but eventually got across.

Into the small village of Chaldon. It's church is famous for its Doom wall painting which covered the west wall and which dates from around 1200. It depicts Hell and Purgatory below, while the fortunate scramble up a ladder towards heaven. Well worth the quick look inside.

Out of the village and another path across an enormous field. Passing a small bit of woodland I reached Happy Valley.

I have walked Happy Valley several times and it always charms. Today in the lovely afternoon sunshine it excelled and was at its best. Apart from a few distant walkers I was on my own and could enjoy its wonder.

Through Devilsden Wood and then across Farthing Down following the route of the London Loop, also familiar ground but always impressive views. I then exited the Down and made my way back to Coulsdon South atation. It was already around 4.30, I had to wait a while for the next train so by the time I arrived home it was 6.30. A tiring and long day but incredibly enjoyable.

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