Woldingham's Wolds: From the London Alps to the North Downs
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Not those at Beckton, but the 'London Alps' that advertisements encouraged working-class Londoners to move to when Woldingham Garden Village was being built in the 1910s. The 'alps' (actually wolds: bare chalk hills) jostle away, only stopping at the scarp of the North Downs where the view of the Weald can be contemplated (if the hum of the M25 can be ignored). Until that point the whole area is steep-sided valleys with the houses hidden away in them, submerged by trees. All the trappings of salubrious Surrey suburbia are present (golf courses, stables, private schools), but the exhilarating expanses and exercise are the main things, and all just 36 minutes from London Victoria.
Originally this walk was planned in February by Gavin Blackman, however it was a cancelled due to the recent lockdown. Gavin has asked if I can lead the walk on his behalf, so this will be my first 'proper one' as a walk leader.
Woldingham: A formerly tiny downland hamlet of old farms and manors (Nethern Court, C16; Flinthouse Farm, C17), built up in two phases. Firstly Woldingham Garden Village for working-class Londoners from the time of the First World War, which was built on an old army base with tiny weatherboarded bungalows. Secondly, big houses from the 1930s onwards. Now a high-class suburb and one of the wealthiest around London. St Paul's Church built 1933 by Sir Herbert Baker (architect of mighty monuments to the British Empire: Tyne Cot Cemetery, Ypres; Viceroy's House and Parliament Buildings, New Delhi; Rhodes House, Oxford; Union Buildings, Pretoria and so forth). Neo-Romanesque apse, neo-Perpendicular tower, all suavely eclectic.
Marden Park: A ferocious Victorian house (1880) in polychrome brick, Tudor, by Arthur Cawston, set in a lovely valley. Now the Woldingham School and Convent.
North Downs: A chalk ridge in counterpoint to the South Downs, starting at Farnham and ending at Folkestone. The gentle dip slope faces north, the steep scarp slope faces south. This walk takes in the highest point on the North Downs, which is Botley Hill, 267m. Good weather will allow views to central London and beyond, even to the Chilterns, it is claimed.
Woldingham and Oxted Downs: A Site of Special Scientific Interest on the North Downs with species-rich chalk grassland, woodland and scrub. Abundant chalk downland herbs and flowers (in the spring).
Titsey Place: A manor house seen at a distance from the hill behind. Built in 1775, but gothicised in 1832. Attractive parkland and gardens and now in a charitable trust and so open to the public.
The route (please click the link in red to be taken to the route at the Ordnance Survey website. This will also show you the elevations and climbing. Please note that we'll be doing the route clockwise):
Winding through Woldingham Garden Village and Woldingham proper, we'll reach the Vanguard Way and Upland Road to get to Limpsfield Road. Coming off this and striking further southeast, we'll cross the fields at Cheverells Farm to reach Beddestead Lane which will take us to the edge of the North Downs at Botley Hill. We'll then follow Pitchfont Lane, then the North Downs Way/Pilgrims' Way almost as far west as the A22, after having had lunch with a view. Bridleways will take us northeast to Marden Park and along The Rookery back to the station.
I love having dogs on my walks and this walk is suitable for them. It is of moderate length albeit very hilly, but there will be fields with livestock and a number of stiles and roads to negotiate and lanes to walk along. A dog must be obedient if it is off the lead.
COVID-19 - IMPORTANT: Please read the following before you sign up to this event:
- Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are extremely mild, or who lives or is in a support bubble with someone showing symptoms, is asked not to attend. This is in line with the government’s coronavirus advice.
- You must also immediately self-isolate and not attend the event if you or someone in your household or support bubble shows coronavirus symptoms or tests positive. You can find the NHS self-isolation guidance here.
- The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste and/or smell.
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- All are required to practice social distancing – staying 2m (not 1m) apart at all times, including the lunch stop. Remember: Face, Hands, Space.
- Unfortunately, there won’t be any planned pub / café stops en route or at the end, and please don’t share sweets or snacks with others – we’re sorry!
- Please bring your own hand sanitising gel for your own use throughout the day. Use of face coverings is at your own choice, but please bring one with you just in case it's needed. Please bring any other PPE items required. Bring a disposable bag for any used PPE.
- Members are advised to bring their own small first aid kit for personal use..
- Be aware that opportunities for toilet stops may be minimal if facilities are closed.
- Please, please cancel at your earliest opportunity if you are unable to attend or are unwell, so that we can allow others to take up these valuable event spaces.
- Much as it's difficult - no handshakes or hugs!
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OutdoorLads draws your attention to the fact that travelling and being away from home increases the risk of receiving and transmitting Coronavirus, whilst it is present in the UK. You are likely to choose not to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst there is a risk of Coronavirus transmission. However, should you choose to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst the risk is present, you must be aware of and follow the law and government guidelines, both when travelling to and from events as well as when participating in events.
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(Images are: View from Titsey Hill by David Anstiss; Marden Park by Robin Webster; Woldingham church - tower and porch by Robin Webster; The Vanguard Way towards Greenhill Shaw by David Anstiss; Country east of Woldingham by Robin Webster; Upland Road (track) by David Anstiss (2); Farm track near Cheverells Farm by David Anstiss; Valley near Pitchers Wood (3) by David Anstiss; North Downs Way by Oxted Quarry by Ian Capper; Panoramic view from Oxted Downs by David Anstiss; A for 'orses by Robin Webster; Marden Park Farm by Robin Webster. All photos are copyrighted but are above credited to their copyright holders and are licensed for further reuse under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).)
What to bring
Walking boots are essential to cope with some rubbly or slippery paths. Wear clothing appropriate to the weather including warm kit in case of cold weather and waterproof kit in case of rain. Gaiters might be an option too if conditions are muddy. Some of the walk will be on tarmac lanes, but some off-road tracks will inevitably have a lot of mud.
Food & drink
Please bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink. There is nowhere to get these items on the walk. There are no cafes and pub, and it seems like no shops either.