Wednesday, October 18, 2017
West Wickham to Hamsey Green
I walked my sixth segment of the LOOP yesterday -- which means I've done a quarter of the entire 150-mile path! Woo hoo! If I keep up my current pace I'll be finished in April or so.
Of course, who knows what winter and the holidays will bring. Not ideal walking circumstances. I may get slower.
Yesterday's walk took me ten miles through rolling hills and woodlands, past lots of horse farms and cow pastures. At one point I found myself walking through a pasture, right next to wary cows, which is never my favorite situation. But they didn't bother me -- just stared and stared.
The walk began near the 700-year-old Domesday oaks of West Wickham Common, which have been so pollarded they're barely visible beneath a mound of underbrush. I walked through neighborhoods and woodlands toward the Addington Hills, where there was said to be a hilltop terrace looking out over the city.
Along the way I encountered some parakeets in the trees...
...and a rather parakeet-colored tree marking signifying something or other.
Finally, I reached the terrace, and indeed the view was pretty impressive, although downtown was partly hidden by the highlands just east of Crystal Palace. You can see the Crystal Palace broadcasting tower on the left, the top of The Shard in the center, and the tops of the City buildings on the right. (I cleaned this photo up a bit -- the actual view was much hazier than this.)
I passed this bizarre, naturally sculpted tree trunk in the Bramley Bank Nature Reserve...
...and this certainly sculpted-by-human-hands horse (dog? dragon?) in Puplet Wood. Some of the places I passed had great British-sounding names, like Threehalfpenny Wood, Baker Boy Lane and Mossyhill Shaw.
Mossyhill Shaw is supposed to be a great place to see butterflies, but apparently not at this time of year. I did, however, spot some bizarrely Dalmatian-like leaves lying on the ground. I have no idea what causes this -- some kind of tree disease, I suppose? Maybe like Black Spot on roses.
This segment ended at a bus stop near some horse farms, and you'd think -- being seemingly out in the middle of nowhere -- it would be devoid of people. But no! The neighborhood school let out just as I was ending my trek, and I rode a public bus with approximately 500 uniformed teenagers until I got to the train station at Sanderstead, Croydon, where I caught the train home. This is where my experience working in a school came in handy -- the kids didn't faze me at all!