The London Loop in Sutton (and adjoining parts of Surrey)

The London Loop is a route that runs around the edge of the capital. In the course of its 145-mile journey it runs through and alongside suburban streets, farms, woods, river meadows, recreation grounds, canal towpaths and forgotten bits of heath. The Loop (London Outer Orbital Path) was conceived in 1990 and has only recently come into being. It has been planned to run between public transport nodes and divides up naturally into fifteen comfortable day walks, beginning on the south bank of the Thames at Erith and running clockwise around the capital to end at Coldharbour Point, opposite Erith on the Essex bank.

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Clock House

Grove Lane

You enter the borough of Sutton from Woodmansterne Road in Coulsdon, Croydon. The road becomes Grove Lane as you cross into Sutton. There were houses on both sides of the road in Woodmansterne Road but now that it's Grove Lane there's a golf course on your right, behind a high hedge and trees.

This locality is called Clock House. A glance at the map tells you that it's really just part of Coulsdon and has no connection with any other part of Sutton. It's probably one of those situations in which a building development has spilled over an old administrative boundary - there are hundreds of these all over the country.

You pass the Jack & Jill pub (third image above) after which there's just another couple of hundred metres of residential road and then you come out into open country.

Grove Lane and the Woodcote Estate

A hundred metres or so beyond the houses be sure to take a left fork.


The smallholdings at Woodcote

You're now in an area of pasture and heath, apparently the former Woodcote estate. Several houses of black painted clapboard are dotted about over to your right, apparently built by Surrey county council in the 1920's to provide an opportunity for demobbed soldiers to set themselves up as farmers. The area doesn't seem particularly productive and most of the surroundings are of rough pasture or heath. The area is at quite an elevation, which allows a view right over to central London and the towers of the City and Canary Wharf.

Woodcote heath

The track curves gradually around to the left beside a hedge. It's approaching a road but about 250 metres short it takes a rather curious dogleg to the south. Look out for a stile on the left and then make your way across the heath on the diagonal. There's not much of a path and a set of  enclosure boundaries shown on the map appears not to exist. At the far corner turn left onto the road and follow it for about 250 metres.

Woodcote Heath and Carshalton Road

Once you reach the farmhouse shown in the first image below go to the right for a footpath within a pasture. There's a path junction about a hundred metres beyond, shown by the fingerpost in the second image below; turn half right here and head directly across the meadow to the north. There's no visible path.

Pastureland west of Woodcote

There's a stile among the trees. Cross this and then cross the succeeding pasture in the same general direction to another line of trees beyond. The path is at least visible here.

Approaching Oaks Park

Oaks Park

The trees mark the course of a busy road. Cross it (it might take  while) and go forward into Oaks Park.

Oaks Park

Oaks Park is a pleasant little place. It's the remnant of a country estate known as Lambert Oaks, and apparently the Oaks horse race was named for it. The main estate house was demolished in 1960 but many outhouses remain, including one that functions as a surprisingly downmarket cafe. The park is planted extensively with trees.

The route of the London LOOP through and beyond the park is a little difficult to suss out in practice. Starting from the buildings head to the west through the trees. You should come out onto a rough-ish path tending to your left, back towards the road. The path almost brushes the roadside before curving gradually to the right again, going some ninety degrees around an open area partially screened by trees to your right. At a track junction go hard left, back towards the road. Just as you reach it turn hard right for a sigificant track heading northwest. This is known as Fairlawn Road. Go along it for some 250 metres. Just beyond a house on the left, pictured below, go left onto a track called Freedown Lane. At ths point you leave London and enter Surrey to cross Banstead Downs.

the LOOP west of Oaks Park;  house on Fairlawn Road

Banstead Downs

Freedown Lane

Banstead Downs is the best stretch of open county since Farthing Downs in Coulsdon, many miles behind us now. Freedown Lane runs almost dead straight for slightly over a mile, mainly through a screen of trees to either side. It's spoiled ever so slightly by the presence of Highdown Prison just off to the right, but you don't really see much except for the perimeter fence. There are a couple of houses off the track to the right here and there.

Banstead Downs

A few minutes' walk beyond the prison Freedown Lane crosses a railway line by an underbridge and emerges onto the fairways of Banstead Downs golf course. You will need to observe the normal courtesies such as pausing while golfers tee off or attempt putts, and be on the lookout for flying golf balls. The path kinks about 30 degrees to the left after emerging from beneath the railway bridge, and switches between stretches of obvious footpath and fairway crossings. Eventually you come out onto a disconcertingly busy dual carriageway, the A217 Sutton bypass.

Banstead Downs golf course

Crossing the A217

Once across the A217 you reach the other half of the golf course. You have the option of breaking the walk here and following a track straight ahead for Banstead station, just 400 metres away, but the LOOP turns right to follow an obvious path just west of north. It's not quite as straight on the ground as it looks on the map but it threads its way cleverly between the fairways, making use of screens of trees and even the occasional ribbon of woodland.

Banstead Downs golf course

The golf course stretches for a good mile to the northwest, as far as the outskirts of East Ewell, but there is no right of way across the greater part of it so the LOOP is obliged to re-enter suburbia. At the far end of the path you go through a narrow screen of trees to find yourself looking down the length of Sandy Lane. Here you cross back from Surrey into London and the borough of Sutton once more.


Sandy Lane

This locality doesn't appear to have a name as such, the nearest place on the map being Belmont about a mile to the northeast. It's a thoroughly pleasant area of wide and leafy roads and big houses. Follow the road for half a mile then go left into Cuddington Way, then right into Cheynham Way, then left into Northey Avenue.

Suburban roads, Belmont

About a hundred metres along Northey Avenue you pass a sign welcoming you back into Surrey again, this time into the borough of Epsom and Ewell. We've seen the last of Sutton but for the purposes of the LOOP I'm going to include the Ewell part of the walk on this page, and stay with it until it reaches Kingston on Thames about three miles ahead.

East Ewell

Entering East Ewell from Sutton

The first section of the LOOP's incursion into Ewell is residential. Continue along Northey Avemue as far as a big roundabout. There's a stretch of open country over to the left, and should the LOOP ever be diverted away from the present residential area this is where it will rejoin the present route. Turn right onto Cheam Road, a wide avenue with service roads to either side (second image below). Continue along this road for about 300 metres then cross to the west side and turn left into Bramley Avenue.

Residential roads in East Ewell

Bramley Avenue continues the pleasant residential theme. After about 300 metres you cross a road and then go under a railway bridge to emerge in Nonsuch Park.

Nonsuch Park

Warrem Farm

On the west side of the railway line you find yourself in an area of heath. This isn't Nonsuch Park proper but Warren Farm, owned by the Woodland Trust. Follow the prominent path seen in the images in the row above to a belt of trees, which hides a long, straight concrete roadway. Now we're in Nonsuch Park proper, which stretches away to the north. Nonsuch Mansion lays over to the right, off the route of the LOOP; it has a cafe and a toilet as well as gardens, so is worth the diversion if you have the time.

Nonsuch Park

Turn left onto the concrete track. You follow this for about a kilometre. The wide open spaces of Nonsuch Park lay to the right through most of this stretch but towards the far end the screen of trees gets wider and you come to a small area that is more woodland than parkland. Just beyond and to the right is an odd structure, a low brick wall surrounding a raised earth platform. This is all that remains of Nonsuch Palace, a sixteenth century building begun by Henry VIII (first image below). The route here is a little complex so watch the route markers and study the map carefully. Having passed the earth platform turn left along the field edge. Walk along beside a fence to emerge at the main A24, and cross it into West Ewell.

The remains of Nonsuch Palace, and the path to the A24 crossing

West Ewell

Entering West Ewell

The first steps in West Ewell are along a narrow footpath. There are some rather fine buildings ahead on either side, of which the most obvious is Ewell Castle, a nineteenth century mansion now used as a school (first image below). A rather imposing building opposite appears to be residential. Continue along Church St out to the crossroads in the centre of West Ewell.

Ewell Castle and West Ewell centre

One would think that a place as significant as Ewell would have a sizeable town centre but in reality it's far more like a village; a place of old houses, many of great character, containing just a tiny spattering of commercial premises. If you were looking for a cafe you're out of luck, though unless it's a Sunday or a bank holiday you will find a pleasant little tearoom in the library in Bourne Hall Park up ahead. As you emerge from Church St turn right to go north along the high street, then after 100 metres go left through the white arch into the park.

Ewell high street, and the entrance to Bourne Hall Park

Bourne Hall Park is an exceedigly pleasant interlude, an area of lawns, gardens, rockeries and tree cover surrounding a lake with a fountain. Borne Hall itself is a modern building housing the local library and museum, and also has a cafe.

Bourne Hall Park

Choose your own route through the park but be sure to head for the northern tip of the lake. If you want to break the walk here then Ewell West station lays a short walk to the west (be aware that it's outside the London fares zone system). Otherwise go around the top end of the lake to the left and pass a smaller pond to reach a busy road junction by a pub.

Bourne Hall Park

From here on we follow the Hogsmill river to the Thames at Kingston Bridge.

Hogsmill River

Hogsmill River at Ewell

Look out for a littke park just to the northwest of the road junction. There's a small stream running through it. This is the Hogsmill river, whose effective source was the lake and ponds immediately behind you. There was once a mill near here and a couple of mill ponds still exist. The river winds first northwards and then northwestwards through a narrow ribbon of trees, and the LOOP follows the path on its right (east) bank.


The river and path dive under the railway line from Ewell West. The tunnel is narrow and the path is carried through it on a plank bridge built over the river itself.

River meadows beside the Hogsmill

There now follows a long stretch of riverbank walk, mainly through a series of meadows on the right (east) bank of the river. The river and its meadows form a fairly narrow ribbon of green running through the sprawl of West Ewell, and the rows of houses are never far away.

The LOOP by the Hogsmill

Near Ewell Court, about half a mile beyond the railway bridge, the path switches briefly to the left bank. The path is briefly enclosed by fences and screens of trees but at the next footbridge it switches back to the right bank. After a further half mile you cross a road, after which the riverbank theme continues.

Hogsmill river meadows

It would be nice if there were a few bench seats dotted about but there are none on the entire two mile stretch between Bourne Hall Park and Tolworth Court Bridge. This final section of river meadow curves gradually around to the right, converging with a line of electricity pylons and eventually arriving at the main A240 Kingston Road just by Tolworth Court Bridge.

The approach to Tolworth Court Bridge

Tolworth Court

Riverside path on the Kingston bank

The Kingston road is a busy highway and suddenly all is noise and hustle. Negotiate the road crossing and turn left to walk over the Tolworth Court Bridge. The river marks the London-Surrey boundary for the next mile and here we cross into the borough of Kingston-on-Thames, but the riverside path is incomplete and we will have to make a further incursion back into Ewell shortly, so for the purposes of this web page I'll continue the narrative here untill we reach Kingston properly. Turn right immediately after the bridge for a narrow riverbank path. It's not terribly scenic, being enclosed by high fences and thick vegetation.

Riverbank path

At the next road the riverbank path ceases. The guidebook tells us that there is no riverbank continuation "at present", which suggests that there might be one at some future time, but for now we have to turn right and cross the river back into Surrey once again. Just across the river is a busy road, the B284, and standing on the other side is the Hogsmill Tavern. The B284 would have been the next best route but it's narrow and winding and lacks a footpath, so we have to walk southeast for 250 metres along Cromwell Road for the next left turn, Grafton Road.

Hogsmill Tavern, Cromwell Road and Grafton Road

At a bend just before the church turn left again, into Royal Avenue. This is a real curiosity of a road, most of it unmade and part of it narrowing to no more than a footpath. Its commencement looks very much like a private drive and is easy to miss, but if you do so just loop back behind the church.

Royal Avenue

About 250 metres beyond Royal Avenue, just a little way ahead of the image above, the LOOP crosses back from Surrey into London for the final time and enters the borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.

Back to Borough of Sutton index page

This page last updated 27th December 2005