Following the failure of the tram to take me home after completing the Beck Corridor I opted to walk home via this section of the Waterlink Way.

Starting point: South Norwood Country Park, Arena tram stop on the Croydon Tramlink

Finishing point: Beckenham Place Park, Westgate Road entrance

Length: 4 miles

I scratched my head after alighting at Arena tram stop. Public transport had let me down but my legs seemed perfectly usable after already completing a 6 mile stroll. Would taking the day’s tally over 10 miles be a literal step too far after my convalescence?

Humbug to that! I took the plunge and connected myself into the Waterlink Way in South Norwood Country Park. This route is actually predominantly intended for cyclists and as such it is listed as London cycle route 21. It begins at the Thames just west of Greenwich and follows the Ravensbourne River to Catford. After that it peels further west along the River Pool and crosses the south of Penge/north of Beckenham before driving into South Norwood Country Park. In theory you could continue south from here up to glorious Shirley, and then through dismal New Addington, and onwards to Gatwick. But, no thanks.

The Pool River trickling through reeds in South Norwood Country ParkSouth Norwood Country Park has changed a hell of a lot since I used to participate in PE lessons here. Memories flooded back of standing in goal in the expanse of a snow covered field, of seeing my best friend getting his knee dislocated by an overenthusiastic rounders slide, of trying to bash several inches of mud of of my football boots before the long walk home. Many of the huge playing fields are no more and the feeling that it is actually meant for wildlife pervades everything now. The river Pool is shielded by discrete fences and the tall brambles or reeds block much in the way of off-road exploration. The paths are wide and well surfaced, with several pretty views towards the iconic Crystal Palace radio masts coming at regular intervals. I really enjoyed this stretch of the walk and I congratulated myself on having taken this decision!

Looking north towards Crystal Palace from South Norwood Country Park

The Pool River in South Norwood Country Park

Leaving South Norwood Country Park, the cycle route signs shout out the wayYou leave the Country Park quite suddenly and have to cross the busy A214. Following the cycle network signs takes you down the quiet but interminably long Beck Lane/Churchfields Road. There’s not much to see along here, beside the Bromley Council waste disposal depot. Whoop!

Nipping across the equally busy A234 just south of Penge you walk on un-made roads for a few minutes. The tall Victorian townhouses along here are really quite pretty and you should see some of the garden extensions they’ve built (visible from the train track that runs behind them).

Walk under Kent House railway station and Kings Hall Road leads you to Cator Park, which is bisected by the River Pool, encased in concrete as is usual in London. This park is quite pleasant as well with lanes painted onto the paths to separate cyclist from pedestrian. It also appears to be the centre of the South London walking universe because the signage in this park includes this monster:

Cator Park, the centre of everything walking - the sign post indicating information on half a dozen south London walking routes

Following the cycle paths you exit Cator Park onto Lennard Road where I left the Waterlink Way, for now, and passed under New Beckenham railway station. A long and straight walk up leafy Park Road and Foxgrove Road delivers you to the Westgate Road entrance to Beckenham Place Park, which is also the start of the Beck Corridor. I therefore unwittingly created a rather nice conclusion to the day’s walking through the creation of this disjointed circuit of sorts.

It was very pleasing to have finished that leg of the Waterlink Way because it means I don’t have to re-walk it in a few weeks time – when I walk the rest of this route from New Beckenham to the Thames!