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Coulsdon To Whyteleafe With Visit To Chaldon Church

16 November, 2022 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Grand Union Canal. Canal lock with narrow boat in London green belt landscape. Uxbridge, London, UK

Considering that it starts within the boundaries of London, this walking tour (approximately 6 miles) with Catherine Ames passes through some remarkably unspoilt countryside. Farthing Down, Kenley Common, Riddlesdown and Coulsdon Commons are all ancient grazing lands, lovingly preserved as part of the London Greenbelt and offering a delightful series of woods and open spaces. In autumn it is a riot of golden colour. Lunch will be at The Fox in Caterham.

England was once covered with commons (common grazing lands for a particular village). Many were lost to private landowners in the Enclosure movement in the 18th century, and others have reverted to woodland for lack of management, or become farmland. The preservation of Farthing Down, Kenley Common, Coulsdon Common and Riddlesdown on this walk is due to the forward thinking of the Corporation of London (the local authority for the City of London), who in the 1880s started to acquire land in and around London to promote good health and give Londoners a place of recreation. These particular commons were purchased in 1883, and the decision was a popular one. In the 1900s thousands of day trippers would come to picnic on the commons on summer weekends, and visit Gardner’s fairground on Riddlesdown. All four commons are particularly rich in wild flowers in Spring, and are the habitat for many birds and insects. The Corporation still owns some 10,000 acres of land, which is all managed for the public good at no cost to the taxpayer.

Happy Valley is different from the other commons in that it was only turned into an open space in 1937 and 1938, when various local farms were bought by Coulsdon Council as part of the London Greenbelt scheme, which sought to limit the spread of London by preserving a ring of open countryside around the city. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its flora and as a habitat for ground nesting birds such as larks.

Chaldon Church has a wall painting dating back to the Middle Ages.The mural on the west wall of Chaldon church is one of the earliest known English wall paintings – it dates from about 1200 and is without equal in any other part of Europe. It is thought to have been painted by a travelling artist-monk.

Travel details and pub menu will be provided to participants closer to date. Registrants should plan on an all-day event, meeting at 9:00am or so at London Bridge and returning to London by 4:00pm or so.

Train ticket and lunch tab not included in event ticket cost.

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