This is a real country walk of 10.50 miles (16.89 kilometres), mainly within deep countryside. There are some moderate hills and some of the terrain can be muddy after periods of rain.

The walk starts and finishes at Coulsdon South Rail Station, visiting Happy Valley, Coulsdon Common, Caterham, Chaldon, Devilsden Wood and Farthing Down. Much of the route coincides with parts of other recreational paths, including the London Loop, the Downlands Circular Walk, the North Downs Way and the Tandridge Border Path, and there are some splendid views.

 


 

1. From Platform 2 of Coulsdon South Station, turn down steps, taking a path out to Reddown Road, where turn left. At the top of the road, turn right and, in 20 metres, turn right again into Downs Road, taking the left-hand side.

2. Don't go through the gate at the start of Farthing Down, but take the level earthen path on its far left through woodland. We will stay on this track for 1,420 metres (almost a mile), ignoring all paths off both left and right. Pass along a plantation of yew trees with a steep valley on the left. To measure progress, look for a signpost to Devilsdon Wood after 660 metres, a post with the number "10" after 960 metres, and a cross-path (ignored) after 1,220 metres. Open fields have now appeared as the housing in the valley below peters out.

3. 200 metres further on still, our path meets a junction in a clearing. At this point, turn left and left again to take a bridleway signposted "less steep". (It certainly is!). This descends in a rightward-bearing semicircle to the valley bottom. Jink left and quickly right at the cross-path to follow the level permissive horse-ride.

4. Keep on this broad valley path then, 500 metres further on, take the left fork uphill, an impressive view into Happy Valley on the right soon opening up. Continue along this terrace until dropping to a cross-track at the foot of a short hill. Go half-left here up the hill with a signpost and bench clearly visible at the top.

5. Go through a short section of woodland, bearing right on the main path, with the valley ever more steeply below. Continue forward across a broad green into another patch of woodland by a signpost indicating Coulsdon Common, swinging left up a hill. Carry on where this levels off; distant sports pitches are over to the right. Eventually go past a carpark and along the edge of Coulsdon Common.

Drop-out point: Continuing forward by the Fox pub will bring you to bus stops on Coulsdon Road, where bus route 404 or 466 will take you back to Coulsdon South Station or stations in Croydon.

6. On reaching the Fox public house, turn right through the carpark and cross the field to the gate in the far right-hand corner. Continue ahead to cross The Grove through a gate just to the right of visible buildings. Note the Corporation of London bollard just here; crossing this road passes from Greater London into Surrey.

7. Continue forward along Green Lane, which soon becomes a bridleway. The buildings to the left of the path mark the site of the Caterham Guards Depot Barracks, redeveloped for housing after 1995. Some old walls still remain. Keep ahead for the best part of a mile until the junction of Rook Lane and Chaldon Road is reached, cross this with care, and continue along Roffes Lane. Ignore a crossing footpath but continue around a right bend.

8. Where the left-hand pavement runs out, turn right uphill along Heathway. At the top, turn left along Chaldon Common Road, which drops back down to Roffes Lane. Immediately turn right up Willey Farm Lane, another bridleway.

9. On reaching the North Downs Way at the top, a decision can be made as to whether to continue on the circuit of the walk, or whether to go for a refreshment break. If opting for a break, turn left along the North Downs Way until Stanstead Road is reached. As we emerge onto the road, the striking Whitehill Tower, built as a folly in 1862, can be seen (off-route in War Coppice Road ahead). Turn left along Stanstead Road for a few metres to find the Harrow pub, where both real ale and food may be obtained. To continue the walk, retrace your steps and continue from point 10.

Whitehill Tower
Whitehill Tower

10. If not opting for the break, turn right along the North Downs Way. Soon, on the left, Willey Park Farm displays an impressive set of radio antennae. Continue on, ignoring any side turnings. Our route gently undulates, with good views to the south towards the Greensand Hills. Eventually, a scattering of detached houses is reached just before crossing over Hilltop Lane.

Our route hereabouts is also known as the Pilgrims' Way, but this seems to be a comparatively modern usage; as a major route it certainly goes back to prehistoric times, although some pilgrims may well have used it. Most pilgrims making their way from London to Canterbury would probably have used the line of Watling Street much further north as a safer and more direct road.

11. Continuing on, look for a concrete trig pillar in a field on the left, marking a height of 202 metres (663 feet). Soon after this, the path comes into the open with a huge view ahead. The North Downs Way swings left downhill, but we bid it farewell, instead taking the onward path curving right to follow a hedgerow on the left.

12. Swing left around a house and immediately right to pass the attractive Tollsworth Manor, built of variegated materials, and dating from the 15th century with early 17th century additions. Follow the farm road for 450 metres down to Rook Lane and carefully cross to the gate in the hedgerow opposite. Once through, turn left along the field-edge, then enter the wooded Alderstead Heath ahead.

North Downs Way
View from the North Downs Way
Tollsworth Manor
Tollsworth Manor

13. Continue for a few metres in proximity to the road, then take the first path on the right to penetrate deeper into the wood. The concrete-surfaced paths date from the Second World War, when Canadian troops were in charge of a food depot here. At the next path junction, turn right to leave the wood, then turn left to initially follow the wood's edge. After 50 metres, the path swings right, to dip down across a large field into the valley bottom. From here, continue on to pass through the distant hedgerow. Once through, bear left down to a gate at the end of the next field, then turn right along the lane.

On the left is Chaldon Church, famous for its Doom wall-painting. Dating from around 1200, it covers the width of the west wall. Hell and Purgatory are below, while the fortunate scramble up a ladder towards Heaven. The church also has a sad monument to two brothers, killed within three days of each other in the First World War.

Chaldon Church
Chaldon Church
Doom Painting
Doom Painting

 

 

14. Just past the church, take the left fork down to Ditches Lane then, in 30 metres go over a ridge down to a field. Cross the field straight ahead, making for the corner of a wood. Once there, veer slightly right down to a further wood ahead Cross through this short section of woodland back into the open. We have now arrived back in Happy Valley.

15. Turn left to keep alongside the wood and along the lip of the valley. On being funnelled into a patch of woodland at the top left-hand corner of the field, enter it, soon turning right, back into the open. Continue your previous direction above the valley and alongside the wood. At the top left corner of this field, go forward along a broad track into Devilsden Wood.

Devilsden Wood
Devilsden Wood
Happy Valley
Happy Valley from Farthing Down

16. The path soon veers left uphill. Continue on the major path, generally uphill, all the way through the wood until coming out into the open by Farthing Down Cottages. Turn left and follow the line of buildings uphill and cross Ditches Lane. There are toilets in the building to the left of the carpark. Turn right through the carpark and across grass to a set of information boards which explain the history and topography of Farthing Down.

The Down is an important archaeological site, with evidence of human activity for some 6,000 years. Faint traces of Iron Age Fields run along the crest and are difficult to see, but some can be traced from where they cross the tarmac road back into the grass. Several Saxon burial mounds also exist. During the Second World War, anti-glider trenches were dug across the Down.

17. Take the forward path to the left of the boards, keeping parallel with the spine road. Pass through the next fence. A few steps further on can be seen the low remains of a Saxon burial mound, beautifully aligned with a view straight along Happy Valley.

18. Keep forward now along the broad grassy track along Farthing Down. Just before reaching a group of trees, known as The Folly, a short drum-like pillar can be seen, with a direction-finder on the top. Go forward through the trees with signposted paths to Hooley, Couldon, Chalton and Purley. Several more Saxon burial mounds can clearly be seen on the right, a couple of hundred metres past The Folly. Maintain the same direction, enjoying the views as we gently drop back down to Downs Road. Go through the gate and retrace your earlier steps back to Coulsdon South Station.

 


 

© Mike Biggs, Ramblers (Inner London Area), 2018

If you have any comments about this walk, or notice that it needs updating to take account of changes on the route, then please contact Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.