This walk is full of hidden gems and links the LOOP and Capital Ring together. Shame about the bit I added to the end…

Starting point: Beckenham Place Park, Westgate Road entrance

Finishing point: Fieldway tram stop on the Croydon Tramlink

Length: 6.3 miles

It’s been the busiest three months of my life. I got married last month and whizzed off to Mexico and Belize for three weeks. I also finished my Open University degree and tried to recover from my knee injury. Yesterday I walked The Beck Corridor in my shiny new Merrell Ventilators to cushion and condition my potentially dangerous gait.

The Beck Corridor passes outside my front door but until Saturday I had no idea it even existed. It was a chance discovery but when I found it I knew I had to conquer it because it links the Capital Ring at Beckenham Place Park with section 4 of the London Outer Orbital Path at Spring Park. I decided to complete that distance, about 4 miles according to the trail’s creators, and then walk a bit further to a Croydon Tramlink stop in New Addington. I reckoned on around 5 miles in total but it turned out to be a bit longer as I got carried away!

So, I set off in the morning sun with more than a little trepidation about how well my knee had healed, but happy to be walking and discovering again. I immediately altered the suggested route so that I passed by some picturesque cottages on nearby Chancery Lane instead of Beckenham High Street, which I see all the time. Soon I was at the entrance to Kelsey Park, a place always heaving with photo opportunities. The lake full of ducks and swans, the weirs at the northern end, many interesting shapes in the trees. This is a park I know well from my childhood, when I would attempt to dam the stream with my brother. None of that today though.

The main lake at Kelsey Park, Beckenham, along the Beck Corridor

A bridge and weir in Kelsey Park, along the Beck Corridor

The stepping stones I tried to dam when I was a child, with ducks

I soon left this park and found my way into Harvington Estate. This was a pleasant enough length of woodland and then expansive playing fields where I revelled in the sun and the big fluffy clouds. There was hardly a soul here, in contrast to the regular joggers at Kelsey Park. You leave these fields and walk down quiet residential streets for a few minutes before starting my favourite discovery of the day.

The best part of this walk is High Broom Wood, not because it is where you first see the River Beck, but because of the carved totems in the woods. I found 4 separate totems carved from dead tree trunks. Clearly by the same artist who worked wonders in Marvels Wood. Owls, fish, bearded men, herons, frogs, all in gorgeous tan-coloured wood. The Beck trickles between these sculptures and at one point there are stepping stones over the shallow water. I would definitely have tried to dam this river too, when I was little! A fantastical bit of Bromley which appears to be entirely neglected by everyone as I never spotted a single human.

Totems at the north end of High Broom Wood, Bromley

Carving of Merlin in High Broom Wood, West Wickham

Stepping stones across the River Beck, in High Broom Wood

The paths in High Broom Wood twist a little, and there are several options to nip over the Beck by bridge as well as stepping stones but it’s got to be impossible to get lost if you just keep heading south. It’s a thin strip of woodland, though you might not notice that when you are in the centre.

Shortly you pop out onto Monks Orchard Road and then turn left towards West Wickham, but before you get there you see the last of the Beck and turn south into quiet suburban roads. The gradient increases constantly but gently until to reach Spring Park after a mile or so. This is the normal finish point for the Beck Corridor trail but I wanted to link to public transport so I carried on south, into the woods again. I’d been in Spring Park for a walk along the LOOP, a few months before, so I knew the rough layout. I just kept zig-zagging south and back downhill. There are a lot of brambles and some rather slippery slopes but you do find a gate on the southern boundary of the park if you follow your instinct.
Purple foxglove flowers in Spring Park

This gate is on the A2022, Addington Road, and the road is neither pretty nor calm. Directly opposite the gate is the entrance to another dark woodland – Birch Wood. In I went! I hoped this would provide a fairly clear way to the west and the Tramlink but it wasn’t forthcoming at first. On I went up the hill. The path soon widened and became steeper. I ignored several small trails heading west and hoped for something a bit more obvious, something with a more deliberate look to it rather than what might just have been an animal trail. Finally I met a crossroads where another path cut east-west across the main path. To the east this new path rose and entered sunny open ground, to the west it disappeared into the trees. I took this and moments later I was ejected back into civilisation.

Or something resembling that. New Addington is not a nice place to visit. Security fences, barbed wire, “Beware of the Dog’s [sic] enter at own risk” signs, and general malaise. Town planning gone AWOL. Still, at this time of day there’s nothing threatening about it and you just keep heading west until you meet the tram tracks. You can’t miss them.

I finished this walk at Fieldway tram stop and, after a violent attack of hay fever, soon trundled off home. Alas the tram wasn’t running all the way home so I checked my knee and decided to walk a stretch of the Waterlink Way that would take me home in another 4 miles, but that’s another story…