Today the weather was considerably better than last time, for our walk from Old Bexley to Petts Wood (approximately 7.5 miles / 12 km). In fact it was very pleasant once we got started and warmed up a bit. The grey clouds even shifted a bit and blue sky and sun peeked out. I know I went on about it last time, but honestly the Elizabeth line is so amazing and fast – we got all the way to Bexley in less than 1.5 hours.
This section was much greener, more rural and pretty than the last section. The trees are really getting their autumn colours now, and the reds and golds contrasted beautifully against the bare wood and the grey skies. We walked along the river Cray for quite a while, and were struck by the clarity of the water and lack of any rubbish in it. We have seen so many polluted rivers, full of abandoned trolleys and plastic rubbish along this route – it was lovely to see such a clean river for a change.
Beautiful clean and clear water! The river Cray in Foots Cray Meadows
The river was particularly pretty in Foots Cray Meadows, where there is a five arched bridge designed by the landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The intriguing name Foots Cray does not refer to feet of any kind but a Saxon landowner by the name of Godwin Fot, mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Scadbury Park and Petts Wood were particularly nice, with lots of trees and interesting things to see. In Scadbury Park there was the remains of a medieval moated manor – unfortunately rather badly excavated and rebuilt by a previous owner in the 1920’s. It is now being more carefully excavated by the Orpington and District Archaeological Society. The moat is quite impressive though.
The whole area around Petts Wood was heavily developed in the 1920’s and 1930’s when the railway was built. It was promoted as an escape to the country from the smoke and noise of the city of London. It was primarily the vision of one man, Basil Scruby (what a great name!) who wanted to create a ‘garden suburb’ along the lines of other such developments, e.g. Hampstead Garden Suburb, and Brentham Garden Suburb (in Ealing). He bought up land and closely supervised the style and quality of the building to create a cohesive town. The railway was a crucial prerequisite – workers had to be able to get to the City quickly and efficiently. There is lots more fascinating information at this website.
Luckily there were others who didn’t want to see houses covering the whole area, (and thereby negating the whole idea of country living), and bought land including Petts Wood to save it from development. Some of it is now in the hands of the National Trust.
We enjoyed this walk very much – hardly any road walking, and lots of woods. The journey home took us through London Bridge station and Farringdon – both rebuilt and updated recently, and looking very impressive and modern. Only two more sections to go until we have completed the whole Loop!