I really enjoyed completing section 3 on Sunday 15th January.

Starting point: Bexley railway station.

Finishing point: Petts Wood railway station.

Length: 7.68 miles (12.4 kilometres).

Ordnance Survey Maps app link here

Download the GPX file for this route here Old Bexley to Petts Wood

Less than a week later I took the opportunity of being vaguely in the right direction (Eltham, to be quizzed by my wedding venue’s planner lady) to walk Section 2 of the London LOOP from Bexley Old Village to Petts Wood, where I started the previous walk.  The weather was patchy but this was another lovely walk overall.

I hopped out of Kristina’s car and walked down towards the path’s start from Bexley Train Station.  I made a schoolboy error when I ignored Costcutter and decided to walk the whole section without ANY provisions at all.  What was I thinking?!  Yes I was eager to get started but I should have known better.  As I type this four days later I can still feel the calf twinges that a lack of liquids brings on.  Oh well, lesson learned?

I set off without a pack today because I wanted an unencumbered stroll and the LOOP website assured me that it was a measly 6 miles so I should be done in about two hours with no rest stops.  Not that the pack in any way afflicted me last time.

Overcast skies by Bexley at Section 2 of the LOOPSo, joining the LOOP below Bexley Station you immediately pass alongside pastures with horses and then a neatly tended sports ground.  You rise up a small bump and follow the path across wind-blasted scrub-land.  It was here that the first spots of drizzle began to fall on me.  The forecast had said that there wasn’t any rain due in that area but about 20 minutes later I was raising my hood and trying to shield my camera lens as I took snaps of parakeets swooping around the Cray River.

The river was really lovely despite the rain and the oppressive clouds.  Ducks and birds going about their business and trying to avoid the ever-present threat of dogs.  Most of this stretch of the LOOP follows the east bank of the river until it reaches a small industrial area and you are forced to turn away into faceless suburbia at Footscray.  I think the abiding memory of this walk will probably be this brooding shot, taken in-between downpours.

Broody skies over the River Cray, just before a downpour. LOOP section 2

Footscray was relatively quickly forgotten as allotments give way to a park just southeast of the A222 road.  I remember thinking at this point that I could do with a drink and also that this walk was going to be longer than the advertised 6 miles.  Especially as I saw a LOOP signpost by the Cray River reading 4 3/4 miles to Jubilee Country Park, only to find the exact same distance listed a good 20 minutes further on!  On I went anyway, knowing I’d be dehydrated at the end.

After passing under the A20 the route enters Scadbury Park Nature Reserve, which was curiously nature-free for me.  Pigeons and squirrels a-plenty but not much else of serious note.  But then I’m no botanist so perhaps the trees were unusual?  Whatever, it was a nice path with joggers and dog walkers and lots of undulations to keep the interest up.  I took a wrong turn near the southern end of the Reserve due to a lack of blazes but I almost immediately twigged that something was wrong.  A glance at my compass and then confirmation from the GPS sent me back the way I came and I soon corrected my mistake.

Church spire framed by trees

From here onwards it was pretty much uninterrupted woodland in the aptly-named National Trust property of Petts Wood, where people’s pets seem to run riot amidst the ever-so-exciting trees.  One couple’s calls of ‘Buster! BUSTER!’ could be heard echoing for quite a way as they searched forlornly for their AWOL pooch.  It put me in mind of the ‘Fenton!’ clip from Richmond Park and cheered this final leg.

Speaking of legs, I did now seriously regret my foolishness as I had only had a cup of tea and a cup of coffee in about 15 hours.  I could feel the start of cramps in my legs.  Worse in my right leg, which almost never happens.  Next time I must try to hold back the urge to leap in to the walk and save myself the discomfort later on.

As I left Petts Wood and crossed three railway lines by bridges I knew I was on the edge of the finish spot.  I rounded a bend and there it was – the place I started last week’s walk.  I retraced the route to Petts Wood railway station and looked at my phone’s GPS tracking of the walk.  8 miles exactly, in 1 hour and 59 minutes, no breaks.  No wonder my legs were feeling sad.  I hadn’t had that much of a route march for a long time.

It was a very nice 8 mile and 2 hours and ten minutes walk, overall.  I have to say that I enjoyed the riverside stretch more than any other part but the woodland was still worthwhile new discovery.   22 sections to go, which will I tackle next?