2013-03-17

Jogging Through Historical Mottingham, Chislehurst, Petts-Wood and Bromley

Nearly 10.5 miles route via gentle hilly terrain.

World war II gun site, wood lands and parks.


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To celebrate completing 125 miles (nearly – just 2 miles left – it can be called a rounding error) running since I started using Runtastic app for tracking my jogging activities, I decided to write about a new route I took this weekend. Since I started using Runtastic I have managed to use it in 3 countries. My last post about running in Hong Kong is here.

I try to do a moderately long run (6+ mile) every weekend. Well it may not be long by standards of some who run a marathon or longer but for me who started road running since July 2012, it is long enough.

What amazed me is that in our usual day to day chores we forget to witness many historically significant spots. For example I could not imagine that a place near my daughters school, just 70 years ago was a world war II gun site protecting London. The dark skies above the rolling woodlands constantly lit up by the gun fire and the silence of night broken by the the splattering sound of shots and clanking of shells falling on concrete floor below.

The weather was too cold and freezing for me to remove my gloves and take pictures from my blackberry. Instead I took mental notes and then searched internet for the links of the places I passed on this route. None of the pictures (expect the screen shot of my phone above) are mine and copyrights of the original owners are duly acknowledged.

The Route


View Jogging Route - Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Bromley in a larger map


Start at Mottingham War Memorial


Mottingham - the name being first recoded in 862AD as Modingahema - meaning the land of the Moda's people. W G Grace, the famous cricketer moved here in 1909 and played for Eltham Cricket Club. A trivia : the Mottingham railway station was called Eltham in 1866 when the railways first arrived. It was later renamed to Mottingham when Eltham got its own station.

Start your run at the Mottingham war memorial. This is a small memorial paying respect to the fallen men of Mottingham parish who were consumed by the wars of their time defending the honour and liberty of their country. Take A208 Mottingham Road towards Chislehurst. The road goes via the village high street with general shops and cheap restaurants, pawn shops, betting shops and even a post office and church.

Given how “God less” our society feels these days, you would be surprised to count the number of churches you cross in your path. Of course they were all built long time ago. But every few 100s yards you might pass a beautiful church building with its majestic structure and grounds. If you run on Sunday mornings you can even see few local residents going in to attend the mass.

Most of the route on A208 is gentle uphill which is a good warm-up. Once you start going down hill on Red Hill you know you are entering Chislehurst.


Continue through Chislehurst Common and War Memorial

Chislehurst - first mentioned in a charter of 973 AD, the name meaning the wood (hurst) where the ground is gravely (chisle). A simple search of wikipedia shows such interesting facts about this small village. For example, this was home to Viscount Sydney family after which Sydney, Australia is named. Or another local attraction, Chislehurst Caves have been used as live music venue by Jimi Hendrikx, the Who and even the Rolling Stones. Hmm I never knew that before!

As you pass the affluent Chislehurst high street, historically known as Prickend or Pricking, with its super market, quaint little posh shops, neat coffee shops and classy restaurants and pubs, you can easily sense the difference that you are entering an expensive area and it certainly is one of the most expensive places to live in Bromley. No wonder one of the famous resident here was none other than Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, President of France. In fact it seems Bromley is popular place for French - Charles de Gaulle was also a resident in nearby Petts Wood.

The village is good place to come for evening meals or weekend shopping. You pass a lovely pond with ducks and birds and plenty of open space in the form of Chislehurst Common. If the ground is not too wet, leave the road and jump on the grass and on to the route through the woods and continue straight. You will come at cross road marking the site of Chislehurst War memorial. Continue on A208 and enjoy the posh surroundings, large detached houses in conservation area and open spaces, wide foot path. Do not forget to say hello to dog walkers. After a short distance, suddenly all civilisation would be left behind and you would enter Petts Wood. They even have their own running club.


Through Petts Wood and over the railway bridge.

The woods of the Petts Family, so the name appeared in 1577. Petts Wood did not evolve from village to town to suburb. Instead it was a development dream of Basil Scuby who managed to buy 400 acre of land and develop it into what we now know as Petts Wood. It was an attempt to move people from smog filled cities to healthier environments. And if you ever fuss about the bi-annual change of clock you must be delighted to know that William Willett – English builder and tireless promoter of Day Light Saving time - lived here and there is a sun dial memorial for him in the woods as well as DayLight Inn pub. Here is the pamphlet promoting DST and now you know who to blame when the you run around the house changing clocks twice a year. Another famous resident was Charles de Gaulle lived here for part of the second world war.


On a good summer day a visit and walk through the woods is itself a good use of time. The National Trust manages the woods. As you cross the railway bridge you would re-enter civilisation. Houses will start cropping up along your side. As you reach the first round about turn right on Petts Wood road. If you want a longer route, continue further and take right on second round about at Crofton Lane, cross the railway line at the end of the lane and then take right on Towncourt Lane leading to Queensway and Petts wood station. This alternate route is marked in red on the map.

If you carry on Petts Wood road, you will reach Petts Wood railway station, where you can take the footbridge to cross the railway line. As you cross the railway bridge, you can realise the difference between houses designed by Scuby on east verse the cheaper alternatives designed by other developers of his time. The houses on east side (designed by Scuby) went for £795 to £2,200 whereas average price in London at that time was £650. Another trivia that the Petts Wood railway station was paid for Scuby (£6,000 the cost of construction as well as providing the land) because the railway company drove a hard bargain. At least proverbial tax payers did not have to pay. In its time, the station was third busiest in Bromley. The area was initially to be called Crofton Park but there was already another station called that hence the station as well as the development were called Petts Wood. As you cross the footbridge and come on the east, follow the direction to Jubilee Park via Crest View Drive and Tent Peg lane.


Jubilee Park and Thornet Wood

Jubilee Country Park is 62 Acre public park in Petts Wood. This was also the site of Anti Aircraft Battery in World War II which you would not imagine unless you see the plaque marking the site. If you are not in hurry take the trails and paths in the park and make your run longer otherwise follow the direction to Thornet Wood and you would ultimately emerge on a single track road and a car park. You would cross Bromley High junior school, and Bickley Manor hotel. At the end of the road turn right onto Blackbrook Lane and after crossing the railway line, left onto to Bickley Park Road. This part of the run is mainly via residential area with large houses and wide footpaths. You can see some great houses on this street and in this area. I use this section of the run to increase the distance. If I am feeling tired I would instead turn right (instead of left) on Bickley Park Road and head back towards Chislehurst.


Bickley, Sundridge Park, Elmstead Wood

Continue on A222 (Bickley Park Road which turns into Bickley Road) and at second set of traffic lights, turn right into Plaistow Lane continuing till the round about and taking right on Orchard Road leading to Sundridge Avenue with the lovely golf course to your left and expensive houses to your right. At the mini roundabout turn left on to Elmstead lane.

As you cross the railway bridge above near Elmstead Wood station, think about the following. The railway line to Chislehurst was opened in 1865. The Elmstead wood station is south of the railway tunnels under the Elmstead Wood. From engineering points of view the tunnels were totally unnecessary and only exist because the Scotts of Sundridge park would not allow access to their land during construction. In places the tunnel roof is just 4 feet below ground.

If weather is good, it is worth running via the woods but in wet weather the ground is too damp and it is no fun running in wet and slippery English Clay. If running through woods, you can head towards Elmstead Wood, Marvels Wood, Lower Marvels Wood and eventually emerging on Mottingham Sports grounds. Or you can run on the road like I did this time and enjoy the woods from the distance. You should reach the Mottingham War memorial in the end where you can end this run.


Conclusion

This is a nice 10.5 mile track which can be easily increased to 13 miles by taking some strategic detours. If you are not in hurry, take time to read through various plaques and information markers. I imagine it would be much better in summer. Happy running.