It’s over six months since my last stretch of the Capital Ring, here. That took Dog and me to Greenford in North West London so, to be different we headed east, away from our start point of Crystal Palace, through some of the dullest parts of the walk around Penge and ending up in the beauty of Beckenham and Grove Park’s nature reserve, linked by a neat piece of woodland around Downton, a rather grimy part of south-east London.
Anyhoo, back to the start. Dog and I chose a perfect day,
not that there was much choice as 28 Dulwich Quilters were lunching chez nous for the 30th Anniversary of their formation. Four of the first five original members are still alive and were there. There were speeches and delicious food and rather a lot of pretty decent red wine apparently and I’m really glad I missed it.
The stroll up the Crystal Palace Park is steep and breathy but is less than a mile so we commenced quickly and in good spirits. It may be the school holidays but the Park was oddly empty for the most part except when I left it surrounded by a mob of I guess seven year olds. Poor Dog didn’t know where to look.
The walk, after the Park is pretty dull for a mile or so as you skirt Penge East Station and a small park called Cator Park. That apart, this is the dullest piece of the walk.
Eventually we skirted the super posh sports grounds new New Beckenham station, the HSBC one being extraordinary – I played rugby once and it was like playing on a well sprung billiard table. There’s a sports club that’s part of Kent County Cricket Club and training facilities for Crystal Palace football club.
One church stands out amongst some rather uniform housing and culverted rivers,
Chaffinch Brook sounds twee but feels more likely to support shopping trolleys than wildlife.
Beyond you enter Beckenham Place Park and the countryside deepens and the rural nature grows.
The houses are more stock broker now and there’s a golf course too.
It’s a bit of an illusion because soon enough Downton with its acres of council housing hoves into view.
Oddly this stretch was one of the best bits.
The strip of woodland, a mere 100 yards wide hid most of the dull brown screeded homes from view and all along there were wooden sculptures to distract as well. I missed one post – maybe it’s been removed – but the others aere still there as neat little markers.
Once out of the wood though, it was back to Grove Park station and home. And quite a lot of left over cake. Thankfully.