One of the fantastic things about Scotland is you can step outside and you’re not far from a mountain stream of clear, clean water (Yes mum, I’ve checked there’s no dead sheep at the top!)
Who would’ve thought the same was possible in London?
But a train to Bromley then a bus to Keston will bring you to the source of the river Ravensbourne, a pure crystal stream rising from the chalk acquifer below, in a setting of some geographical and historical interest.
For starters there is an iron age encampment – which is to say the trace of the deep ditches dug to encircle a camp and protect those within; the place is now called Caesar’s Camp because the roman soldiers either took the site or found it abandoned, an ideal place to pitch tent on their march from the coast to the north: high up, already fortified, surrounded by game and supplied by fresh water; no surprise they wanted to come back to this country with a bigger force.
Image by Julian Osley: geograph.org.uk/photo/5830271
It stands on what is now the property of Holwood House, one time residence of William Pitt the Younger, so called because he became Prime Minister at age 24, which is like looking at my son and saying you’ll be Prime Minister in four years’ time!
It was here that Wilberforce came to the course of action that arose from his conviction that all people are created equal.
And just down the road is Charles Darwin’s house, from where he was able to connect the flora and fauna of this area with all that he had encountered on his travels, and through the mechanism of natural selection was able to see into deep time.
Keston (name derived probably from Roman word for town Chester-ton, though another theory in hidden-london.com/gazetteer/keston/ is Kes’s boundary stone) is a little to the north of the path of the London Spiral, but in this part of London public transport is sparse, so the walk is a connector back on to the spiral.
We have walked alongside the Ravensbourne already on the inner circles of the spiral, both below Hilly Fields at walk 14 – Honor Oak to Millennium Peninsula, and at 25 – Beckenham to Eltham Palace, (which started at Ravensbourne station, and on crossing the stream we passed a raven standing in the bourne)
Map should be the ravensbourne, with cuts across it of the spiral
Meeting place: Downe Village
[train to Bromley South railway station (trains from Victoria or Blackfriars), then take a 146 bus to Keston]
Date & time: Sunday March 10th 2019, 1 pm
Distance: the walk is around 6 miles, a fairly strenuous walk in winter, across open down land, with few shops or amenities en route, so bring a snack
End point: Knockholt station, trains back to Victoria
Contact: email: email@example.com mobile: 077932 00932
Light aircraft landing at Biggin Hill airport