It was a great day for walking. Not too hot, not too cold, with a breeze to refresh. Rosy is my walking companion today. We started from Bexley High Street, a 35 minute train journey from Charing Cross, and were immediately off into country, supposedly a landfill site but clearly now a lush open meadow area full of flowers, happy bees and large juicy brambles, landfill all forgotten and under our feet! Even a field of sunflowers further on.
Our companion river today is the Cray, rising in Orpington and joining the Darent and then the Thames. another crystal clear stream inviting a paddle. It took us through Foots Cray Meadows, passed the Five Arch Bridge, built around 1780 over the weir. On through Foots Cray and passed the Cray Wanderers Football club - one of the first clubs in the country!
We arrived at Sidcup Place where the heavens opened and we retreated for a cup of tea! Nice place, pretty walled garden, huge redwood trees, tennis courts, lots of mothers and children passing the time of day, once somebody's treasured home and now a leisure centre for the local community.
We negotiated crossing the Sidcup bypass and headed off into Scadbury Park Nature Reserve. This is where things took a turn for the worse. The Tfl instructions bore no relation to where we were walking. Finding ourselves heading north (thank God for my little compass) we knew we were lost. No signs visible anywhere, even at a very obvious T junction in the woods where it was only possible to go left or right but which?
Luckily, we heard voices and a young couple walking their dog pointed us in the direction to St Paul's Cray, our next village. So beware this section in the woods - we followed the most trodden path but that is not always the right one!
It would have been nice to find the old moated manor. We found the lodge in the throes of restoration. Also, to enjoy the birch wood without feeling anxious about the route.
We arrived into suburbia, clearly very much in the wrong place. Luckily Rosy could access google maps on her phone which indicated the right direction. We took a brave decision and headed back into the woods further on and luckily managed to rejoin the LL path. Where we went wrong, I've no idea but the lack of signage is not good.
We were now in woods belonging to the National Trust with lots of signs everywhere. We were almost home, arriving at Petts Wood Station just in time to shelter from the mother and father of all rainstorms! The home to Victoria and a nice cup of tea.