London Loop Walk 11:
Banstead Downs to Kingston & The Thames

9 July 2006

Today Stephen did the eleventh of his  London Loop walks, this time with George for company. After some slower progress, today was time for the longest LOOP walk so far, and to complete the journey around the southern part of London as we head for the Thames once more.


After retracing last time's LOOP Link walk through the dense undergrowth of Banstead Downs golf course, with headroom less than a metre in places, we find this signpost showing that we have reached the LOOP proper, and that the official distance to Kingston Bridge is 10 miles.


After the rest of Banstead Downs golf course, we emerge into suburban housing - street after street, and only one person passed in all that time.


After passing under the railway line from Sutton to Epsom, we cross the open space known as Warren Farm and then reach the grounds of Nonsuch Palace.


Constructed under the orders of Henry VIII, who demolished Cuddington village including its church to have room for his palace, it was used extensively by Elizabeth I, but demolished in 1652. This is one of three marker stones which show where the palace was located.


This odd construction, with low brick walls, is the site of the banqueting hall of Nonsuch - presumably the outline reconstructed in brick at some past time.


Safely negotiating the dual carriageway of the A24, we reach Church Street in Ewell, where the tower of the parish church stands in its graveyard; the rest of the church was demolished and replaced by another nearby.


As we reach the end of stage 7 in Bourne Hall Park, it is time for lunch. The spring that feeds this pool is one of the sources of the River Hogsmill, which we will be following for the rest of the day.


Looking the other way, this flying saucer of a building is the modern Bourne Hall (the original having been demolished in the 1960s), housing a library, museum and coffee bar.


Fortified with lunch, we stride on along the Hogsmill, here finding Upper Mill, the only survivor of the many mills (mainly gunpowder mills) that once lined the Hogsmill.


To get under the embankment of the railway from Epsom to Wimbledon, the path is ingeniously carried above the Hogsmill on a wooden causeway.


As we make our way along the Hogsmill river, never far from houses but just keeping them at bay, George plays on the stepping stones.


The river struggles to gain rural character, with interludes such as this small sewage works


Tolworth Tower, a familiar landmark at the junction of the A3 and A240, towers over the Hogsmill valley


On the far side, Bonesgate Stream, the largest tributary, joins the Hogsmill.


As we struggle along an overgrown permissive path, a glimpse through the trees of a go-karting track


Emerging from the nettle-infested path, we must now take a diversion away from the Hogsmill river, passing the Hogsmill pub and restaurant with its huge garden, surprisingly underused on this warm and improving afternoon.


Since the joining of the Bonesgate Stream, in addition to the LOOP we have also been following the Thames Down Link, a
24-km route linking the Thames Path and the North Downs Way.


As we continue our diversion away from the river, we pass the church of St John the Baptist in Old Malden, rather an odd mixture of periods.


Now returned to the Hogsmill, we pass under the branch railway line to Chessington, built in the 1930s. This impressive three-span concrete viaduct is 42 metres long, and was built as part of the last expansion of the Southern Railway.


Extensive construction is underway - new buildings for the school, or something else?


The next obstacle is the frighteningly busy A3, 10 lanes with its twin service roads, fortunately with an underpass across the dual carriageway itself, but with a few hundred metres along the carriageway on either side too.


We then return to relative tranquillity, now looking across the Hogsmill to a cricket ground


After passing next to (and being tempted by) Berrylands railway station, we then make our way along national cycle route 75, with industry and more sewage works on one side, and a cemetery on the other.


That presages the arrival of Kingston, with its Dawson Road


The LOOP and Thames Down Link continue to follow the Hogsmill where possible, continuing to be hemmed in by concrete.


We start to get closer to the heart of Kingston, with a feel to the walk reminiscent of Erith, for some reason! I wonder what proportion of the people walking along this path have any idea they are on the LOOP or what it is.


Having passed, along with the Hogsmill, under part of the Guildhall complex, we find the Coronation Stone. It is said that seven Saxon kings from the year 900 were crowned on this stone.


Crossing the High Street, we take the narrow path along the Hogsmill, and looking back can see that the modern High Street with its modern traffic is still carried on these three 13th-century arches of the Clattern Bridge (albeit extended from the original 8-feet width) - a quite remarkable survival into the modern age.


And here we are, at the Thames and Kingston Bridge, today's destination. It felt very good to get here after an afternoon's walk from the North Downs.


From Kingston Bridge, looking down on the Thames, site of a regatta today.

A good walk, by some margin the longest LOOP walk I've done so far, with a very satisfying end point. The following of the Hogsmill for most of the afternoon, from source to its meeting with the Thames, additionally gave the walk a sense of purpose. Next time, the London Loop from Kingston upon Thames to Hatton Cross

Section 7 Banstead Downs to Ewell: 6.7km, 1 hour 30 minutes (including 15 minutes stopped), 34 metres of ascent.
Section 8 Ewell to Kingston: 12.5km, 3 hours 40 minutes (including 55 minutes stopped), 71 metres of ascent.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson