urban75 walk club: anniversary walk to Chislehurst Caves, Kent
Report by urban75 editor, April 2004
Part two: Stumbling around caves in the darkness is thirsty work, but Alan, the cruel tourmeister, made us trek through the rather minimalist Chislehurst Woods first. Here's part two of the walk:
Group shot outside Chislehurst Caves
Picture taken shortly after we'd emerged from the depths. We didn't tarry too long in the visitor centre on account of it resembling a Butlin's reception from the 1970s. The food didn't exactly fill the palate with anticipation and the fake-wood decor looked like it had come straight out of a B and Q sale.
Mind you, there was a fabulously gung-ho painting on the wall in the restaurant consisting of a baffling montage of Churchill, flying spitfires, white cliffs of Dover and just about every other war-related cliche the artist could fit in. It's well worth a look for the sheer novelty value alone.
Leaving Chislehurst Caves
It's amazing how the pace speeds up when there's a pub ahead!
Stomping through the woods
Chislehurst was a quiet rural parish until the the railways came thundering into town in the 1860s. Thereafter, growth was very rapid with housing estates being erected on farmland to the north of the High Street before and after the Second World War.
The Commons managed to remain untouched but concerns about encroachment resulted in Acts of Parliament being passed to secure the land against harmful building and development.
Further public pressure in the 1920s secured the ancient woodland known as Petts Wood from developers, followed by by the neighbouring Hawkwood estate in the 1950s. The land is now managed by the National Trust and along with the commons and Scadbury Park, forms a wide green wedge between Chislehurst and the urban area of Orpington to the south.
Walking into Chislehurst
Chislehurst sports a snazzy village sign on Royal Parade, depicting Thomas Walsingham being knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. Of more interest to some of the walkers was the 'Bulls Head' pub sign further down the road.
Drinking in the Bulls Head Hotel, Chislehurst
The posh-looking and well-kept Georgian exterior suggested that a bunch of scruffy ramblers may not be welcome, but the pub was friendly enough. There's a fairly sizeable garden at the back which has a rope running along the middle. This separates the drinking oiks from the hotel guests, who enjoy bigger parasols and more comfy chairs. The Bulls Head was voted best pub in Chislehurst for the year of 2001.
Into the woods again
Suitably lubricated, our intrepid walkers headed off into the woods again, with Alan impressing all around with his impressive knowledge of trees.
We really were lucky to have such a fabulous day for the walk. A little further on we decided to have a game of 'tag'. I think William lost.
Drinking at the The Rambler's Rest, Chislehurst
The final pub on the walk was this charming pub. There's a large sloping green space which is ideal for loafing drinkers, but not so good for those with poor beer-balancing skills.
For some people, one drink simply wasn't enough... ;)
One man and his pint
What you're seeing here ladies and gentlemen, is pure satisfaction. Here is a man 'at one' with the world. The sun's shining and real ale connoisseur William is contentedly slurping on some obscure pint of Lesser Footrot Country Bumpkin Ale. Or something.
Chilling out in front of the The Rambler's Rest, Chislehurst. I've no idea what Alan's doing. In fact, I don't think even he knows what he's doing.
Waiting for the train at Chislehurst railway station, and already getting ready for the final part of the evening - a big drink at the People's Republic of Disco in Brixton. Again, I have no idea why some people are striking such curious poses.
WALK SEPT 2007 Petts Wood Walk past Chiselhurst