London is an amazing city to live in because you can experience the best of everything: city life on the weekdays and nature on the weekends. Indeed, you don’t have to even leave the city to enjoy the best of the English countryside. The London LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) is a 150-mile walk that circles London. Don’t worry, you don’t need to do the 150 miles all in one go, because the LOOP is made up of 24 shorter interconnected hiking paths.
We rarely let a weekend go by without taking a day trip away from the city centre, and the LOOP offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy some nature close to home. We’re going to doing all 24 of these walks and will create guides for each one so you can do the same! For our first LOOP hike we decided to do trail #2. This is a 7-mile hike from Bexley to Petts Wood. Read on for all the details to help you complete this wonderful walk!
About the hike
As mentioned above, this is a 7 mile/11.2 km hike that starts at Bexley station and ends at Petts Wood station. The difficulty level is not high and it’s an easy trek for beginners as the majority of the hike is on level ground. The most strenuous thing you’ll be doing on this walk is climbing steps to bridges that go over the railroad tracks toward the end of the hike. Otherwise, the hike is not at all difficult.
Packing for the hike
We recommend wearing long yoga pants or some other type of exercise clothes that allow you to move freely. You may encounter brambles and thorns along your way and some of the paths are quite overgrown, so you want to protect your ankles with long socks. Regular exercise trainers do just fine for footwear for this hike. Carry a couple bottles of water and some snacks (granola bars and fruit) because this walk can take around 5 hours and you will get hungry along the way.
Getting to Bexley
You can get a direct train from London Bridge to Bexley and it’s only a 30-minute ride! The train leaves roughly every half-hour and a regular ticket will cost you between £7-£8.
Starting the hike
Exit Bexley station and continue straight to the main road. Turn right here and soon you should come to Tan Yard Lane. You’ll see a pub here called The Railway Tavern. Turn right down Tan Yard Lane, keeping the pub on your left side.
Continue straight. You’ll pass under a railway archway and onto a narrow paved path. It might be overgrown with plants, but it’s the only path so you can’t go wrong! If you continue straight, you’ll eventually come to a cricket pavilion on your left-hand side. Keep following the path past a row of cottages on your right.
Here it will climb slightly, leading you up through a gate and to a big open field. This used to be a landfill site but was replanted and given back to nature some years ago. Continue forward, you’ll see a gravel path descend on your left. Follow it through a gate beneath some power lines.
If you continue straight another 50 metres or so you should come to a housing complex. Find house number 106 on your left-hand side. There is a tall sign here that will point you in the direction of the LOOP. You should turn left down an alley between two houses and cross a bridge over a stream.
Cross through two gates and turn right to continue along the path. It follows beside the river and you can wade if you’re in the mood! You’ll be walking alongside the stream for a bit, so keep an eye out for slippery mud and exposed roots.
You’ll reach Five Arch Bridge, which is a bridge with 5 arches (people were quite literal with their names in the old days). Pass this and continue on. The stream should be on your right-hand side this entire time. There are some benches near the water here and you can sit and take a rest and admire the many different birds that call this area their home.
Continue on with the stream on your right for another half mile or so. You’ll pass a wooden footbridge and eventually the path will veer right and through a gate. Here you’ll cross a single-arch brick bridge. Just on the other side of the bridge the path will fork. Take the narrower path that goes left. Angle right across the grass and through some bushes. There is an information panel there about the nearby All Saints church.
The pathway is marked on occasion by wooden posts with the LOOP sign on them, but at this point you’ll turn right to find a tall LOOP signpost on Rectory Road. The church should be on your right-hand side here. Take a left along Rectory Road and walk toward the centre of Foots Cray Village where there is a large crossroads.
Here you can make the decision to turn left and stop in for a pint and refreshments at the historic Seven Stars Pub. It’s just 230 metres down the road and well worth the visit!
If you continue straight on your way up Rectory Road, you’ll just need to cross the crossroads, making sure you’re walking on the right side of the road. Turn right on Suffolk road (the second road once you cross the main artery in Foots Cray Village). You’ll be walking along a paved pathway for a little while now. There are fenced gardens on your left and fenced-in horses on your right.
Very soon you’ll come upon a football field on your left. Keep true and you’ll pass along a track between garages and garden fences until you’re through a gate and into an open field. Walk straight across the field toward a line of trees at the far end. Once you pass through these trees you should find yourself facing a children’s playground. Skirt left around the playground to find a winding stone path on the other side. Turn left down this path. There should be a huge redwood tree on your left-hand side.
You’ll find another LOOP signpost and an information panel on your left. The path will take you along a garden area with plenty of benches. At the end of the path veer right toward some conifer trees and in the direction of the main road, A222 Chislehurst Road.
Cross Chislehurst Road and turn left, keeping the road on your left-hand side. Pretty soon you’ll come upon a series of tunnels which are meant to help pedestrians get over the A20 safely. Turn right down the first path you see. This should lead to a ramp which will take you through a tunnel and to a bridge crossing the A20. On the other side turn right, then quick left down some steps. Straight ahead is another tunnel. Go through and swing left on the other side to climb up to the sidewalk running along the road.
Turn right, keeping the A20 on your left, for 30 meters. You’ll find a gate on your right. Turn through that gate and back onto the LOOP path. Here you’ll be walking through parks and woods for the next 3 miles.
Keep on the earth path. You’ll come to a belt of scrubland where you’ll want to turn left into a grove of redwood trees.
These are huge and very beautiful and you’ll be tempted to spend a little time admiring them!
Here the path joins what is called the Acorn Nature Trail which is marked by a series of numbered posts. Continue on this path until you reach a junction. There is a small pond on your left and you should go slightly right. Keep an eye out for post number 13 on your right-hand side. Once you see it, you’ll turn left off the main track along a narrower track with fences on both sides.
The end of this tracks splits into a ‘T’ and is marked by a tree which has branches growing at odd 90 degree angles from the trunk. Veer left and continue through the woods until you find post number 12. You should see a signpost pointing toward Moated Manor. You’ll want to follow this arrow onto the path where the LOOP continues.
If you’re lost, just look for Scadbury Manor. It’s a short detour off the main LOOP trail, but re-joins it a little further on. If you’re going in the right direction Scadbury Manor would be on your right-hand side. You continue along this path for around .6 miles. You’ll pass a raised pond on your right and come to a large oak (also on your right). Some steps should lead upward on your right-hand side and you need to take these.
At the top, angle left following the path until you find post number 5. Turn left here along a path passing through wooden posts and join a larger, main track. Turn right on the track, then left toward A208 St. Paul’s Cray Road. You’ll veer a little left toward the road, then cross it to the opposite side.
You should find a path leading left onto St. Paul’s Cray Common here. Continue for 40 metres until you hit a fork, and take the left-hand path. Soon you’ll reach a major junction where several paths converge and you’ll find an information panel here. Keep straight into Petts Wood (you’re getting close to the end!).
The track should descend slightly and you’ll continue on for around half a mile. You’ll come upon a large memorial stone on your left dedicated to William Willett who campaigned for the Summer Time Act of 1925. There’s a bench opposite the memorial where you can take a break if you need to. Remember that to get back on the LOOP you need to return down the path on your right when you’re sitting on the bench facing the memorial.
The path will lead you down a narrow trail, through trees and woods and eventually you’ll see a tunnel under a railway line ahead, but you’ll want to follow the path to the right here, keeping the rail lines on your left-hand side. The path will lead you over a plank bridge, then down some steps and across Kyd Brook.
Ending the hike
You’re in the final stretch of your hike and have a cold pint to look forward to in Petts Wood! After crossing Kyd Brook, you’ll have to cross three different bridges over the railway lines. These are pretty straight-forward as a paved path connects all three. You’ll climb a set of steps on your left for the first bridge and cross over 4 rail tracks. The second bridge goes over a single branch line, and you’ll cross a cul-de-sac called Little Thrift and on the opposite side come to the third bridge which goes over a large array of railway lines.
You can pause on any of these bridges to do a little trainspotting if you like!
After crossing the third bridge, you’ll come to a metal fence and gate at the edge of Jubilee Country Park. Turn left along this path with the fence on your left-hand side. You’ll pass a car park on your left and come out onto Tent Peg Lane.
At the end, turn left along Crest View Drive and to the main road, Queensway. Continue straight along Queensway and you’ll find Petts Wood station on your left. We recommend stopping in at the Sovereign of the Seas pub before catching your train. You deserve a treat after all that hiking!
Petts Wood to London
It’s easy to get back to central London from Petts Wood. There are a couple trains every hour and the ride is just under 30 minutes. The price is between £6-£8 pounds for a ticket.
Hopefully this will inspire you to get outdoors this weekend and try out some of London’s amazing trails! Check out our vlog of LOOP Trail #2 too. Let us know how your LOOP hike goes, and if you have any questions we’d love to hear from you. Just leave us a comment below.