Finally, the time to walk the last section of the Ravensbourne River! The BBC Weather promised a fine day and we set off from the bus stop outside Bromley South Station. I couldn’t find a map on the internet and we used the A to Z during a tricky few hours, with no signposts, intermittent rain, and a lot of mud – not at all what was promised. However, this is definitely a walk to be repeated in the summer.
We walked down Hayes Road where the river was hidden behind the houses.
At Hayes Lane we set off across Bromley Common. There is no designated ‘Ravensbourne Path’, which is a pity, so you have to find your own path across the Common. Around the Nuffield Health Centre, and Bromley FC and Bromley Town Cricket Club the river runs in an untidy ditch.
There was no way through Fishers Wood and so we followed a very muddy lane, passing lots of stables, horses, and ponies – a country scene not far away from the hustle of Christmas shopping in Bromley town centre!
We crossed the Norman Park Recreation Ground and slithered into Scrogginhall Wood – what an odd name.
This building, seen through the trees, looked like a pumping station, and perhaps it was. It is alongside a small lake which was not accessible and which was created by diverting the Ravensbourne in c.1750 in the grounds of The Rookery, the family home of the Norman family.
We had a brief look over open ground, and then plunged into Brook Wood and more slippery, muddy paths, followed by Mazzards Wood and Barnet Wood. A ‘mazzard’ is a local word for a kind of wild cherry, says the excellent Edith.
Finally we were in Padmall Wood, an ‘..ancient coppiced woodland..’ where there used to be a mill and which was privately owned until 1989. There are sweet chestnuts here and apparently evidence of charcoal hearths. Darwin used the area for some of his research.
The Ravensbourne Open Space was land which belonged to Ravensbourne Lodge and which is now protected, with some housing development.
Keston and Hayes Commons are very old areas, apparently with evidence of habitation at least 3,000 BC – extraordinary. However, the two large Keston Ponds were dug in the 19C to supply water to Holwood House, John Ward’s home.
The source of the Ravensbourne River – Caesar’s Well.
You may be interested in
London’s Lost Rivers – excellent post and book
Norman Park & Hayes
Bromley Common – the excellent Edith’s Streets
The history of Hayes
The history of the Bromley area
Tony Roberts – excellent website with lots of walks and very good maps!
Naturally – super photographs & information about SE London & surrounds
The history of the last section – Padmall Woods & Keston