Hayes Circular walk

A short walk across three commons in South East London


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Post # Weather
Thu, 06-Aug-20 Evening Walk: Haunting Hayes 14 lovely warm summer evening
Sun, 26-Jan-20 Sunday Walk - Hayes Circular + Whyteleafe to Hayes (SWC 38) in reverse or parts thereof 8 grey with some rain after lunch
Sat, 28-Dec-19 Hayes Circular 7 overcast
Sat, 29-Dec-18 Hayes Circular 12 unseasonably mild
Sat, 30-Dec-17 Hayes Circular 13 sunny and dry
Sat, 31-Dec-16 Saturday First Walk - Hayes Circular 12 overcast
Thu, 06-Aug-20
Evening Walk: Haunting Hayes
SWC 281: Hayes Circular

Distance: Approximately 5 or 6 miles or 9 or 10 km for those more metrically minded
Difficulty: 1 out of 10
Meet: Outside Hayes Rail Station at 19:08 (18:27 Southeastern Hayes bound train from London Cannon Street (18:31 London Bridge and 18:43 Lewisham))
Return: Return trains every 15 minutes alternating between Charing Cross and Cannon Street (all via London Bridge) until about 23:00
This short walk crosses three traditional commons historically used for supplying wood and follows part of the River Ravensbourne which joins the Thames at Deptford….It looks possible to shorten the walk a bit by cutting out the final loop around Keston Common if we run short on time….Given its proximity to London, I thought it would make for a nice evening walk with a rural feel…
There are two pubs on the edge of Hayes Common for refreshments…..plus one back in Hayes near the station….so we shall not perish from thirst….
More information about the route can be found here.
Enjoy the walk!

  • 04-Aug-20

    There has been some forestry work in Padmall Wood: A large portion of a chestnut wood has been razed to the ground. Last time I did this walk (last winter) the right fork at point 23 has been destroyed. If it has not been restored just continue straight: A few minutes later you can pick up the instructions at the gnarly oak at point 25.

  • 04-Aug-20

    I don’t know this wood, but sweet chestnut is often coppiced - ie cut to the ground to harvest the wood. It looks a bit shocking, but it grows back. This is an ancient woodland management technique and it encourages biodiversity, with lots of woodland insects and butterflies thriving in an environment with some mature trees and some open spaces.

  • 07-Aug-20

    14 on a lovely warm summer evening stroll through ancient woodland speckled with various water features. I had never done this walk and it is a real little gem on the outskirts of London -- worked very nicely as a rural evening walk and would likewise be a nice afternoon outing...It wanders through various bits of ancient woodland and follows the River Ravensbourne to its source. When we magically emerged on a common with 2 pubs (one of which was open) some discussion was had whether we had the time to stop for drink and still finish before dark -- following which, all but 2 stopped and enjoyed a beverage (or 2) in the front garden on the common.....after which, 3 opted to try their luck with an uber (or similar) back to Hayes and the remaining 9 carried on with the walk in the safe hands of the walk creator who navigated us back to Hayes through the woods in the deepening darkness....with one stop in a clearing to admire Jupiter and Saturn...in nice alignment...Back in Hayes just after 10pm...and on the 10:15 back towards London...

Sun, 26-Jan-20
Sunday Walk - Hayes Circular + Whyteleafe to Hayes (SWC 38) in reverse or parts thereof
Length: 22.6 km (14.0 mi) [Shorter Walks possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 344/293m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 ¼ hours, Toughness: 5 out of 10
Take the 09.33 Hayes (Kent) train from Cannon Street (London Bridge 09.37, then all stations via New Cross, Lewisham & Catford Bridge), arrives Hayes (Kent) 10.15.
For the shortest option, the Hayes Circular, take a train an hour later.
Return trains from Whyteleafe: xx.07 & xx.37 (Tulse Hill train, change at East Croydon for Thameslink services or for Victoria). [There are no trains from Upper Warlingham today.]
Commons, ponds, woods, Iron Age structures and hills, all in Oyster Zones 5 & 6.
(Pick up the Whyteleafe route where the two walk routes cross)

Walk Options:
· Walk just the full SWC 281 Hayes Circular (9.3 km)
· After lunch in Fickleshole, turn down to New Addington for a tram to East Croydon station (cut 3.5 km), directions to be found in the pdf of SWC 38, or reverse-walk the alt. start from Addington described there
Lunch: The White Bear (15.4 km/9.6 mi, food all day) in Fickleshole, or any of 3 pubs in Keston (after about 6 km) on the Hayes Circular only option.
Tea: I haven’t a clue.
For walk directions, maps, height profiles, some photos and gpx/kml files click here and here. A tailor-made gpx file for the posted route can be found here. [Right-click and ‘Save Link As…’]
Stargazer is away…
  • 21-Jan-20

    As regards Tea Places, my (not so extensive) network of local spies now tells me - of the ones open on Sunday afternoon - they are:

    Pavilion Cafe (01883-770666) in the Recreation Ground, open to around 16.30. Walker-friendly. Some home-made cakes. Seating inside plus a couple of tables on a patio.

    The Whyteleafe Tavern, on the A22 roundabout, open all day. A 'locals' pub.

    The Radius Arms, in the parade of shops, a former shop converted into a micro-pub. Closes at 17.30.

    [Thanks, Sean.]

  • Anonymous

    Does one buy a return to Hayes or Whyteleafe for this walk?

  • 25-Jan-20

    Neither, it is Oyster pay as you go. Stations are in Zone 5&6.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone would like to do only the Hayes to Whiteleaf walk with me? Starting at the same time?

  • 26-Jan-20

    8 off the train, which soon enough, after the initial ascent onto the Common, turned into 5 + 3, walking at different paces. The weather was overcast only initially, to just before lunch, then with rain, then with a long break in the rain, and then steady rain to the finish, i.e. grey with some rain after lunch .

    Interesting route through the commons and woods between Hayes and Keston, and not too muddy despite the many streams, ponds and a river.

    To Whyteleafe then, and this was much more muddy, the route consisting mainly of well-used bridleways (horses more than bikes, seeemingly). Mostly one could hang off tree stumps or hedges to get past the deep bits, but not always, as the two sneaker-clad walkers found out. We got to The White Bear just before 14.00 hours, and it was fully booked. Unfortunately the front-of-house (it is a well-oiled machine, The White Bear, the margin clearly overwhelmingly coming from the food custom) refused to sit us at the one table that was free on account of a later reservation at 15.00 hours, as "we don't sit people just for an hour". Arguing was a waste of time, so we settled down at the one table that was kept for drinks-only customers, for beer and crisps.

    At Whyteleafe, 3 marched straight to the station, 2 frequented the Pavilion Cafe at the Rec (this opened at Easter last year, and is recommended: fine cakes and nice interior, and warm!) and then also the Micropub, The Radius Arms (est. 4 1/2 years ago, the man behind the bar says). Nice selection of beers, as you'd hope, Wantsum's offering was our favourite. 17.13 train for us two.

Sat, 28-Dec-19
Hayes Circular

Length: 9.5km (6m)
Toughness: 1 / 10
Transport: Take the 10:07 from London Charing Cross arriving at Hayes at 10:48. Return trains are at xx:00, xx:15, xx:30 and xx:45.

This is a short and easy walk through the woodlands of Hayes, Keston and West Wickham commons where Charles Darwin conducted some of his studies. The walk visits the source of the river Ravensbourne.

  • Anonymous



    Thank you to Dirk for posting this walk,

    and pointing out interesting landmarks along the route.

  • David

    Just to add a brief not that four of the six who did the full walk dined at the Fox Inn, Keston, and were later joined by the t wo sandwich eaters. The staff at the Fox were friendly and the food received favorable comments. I recommend the ham, eggs and chips. After lunch, it took less than 45 minutes to get back to Hayes station.

Sat, 29-Dec-18
Hayes Circular

Length: 9.5 km (6 m)
Toughness: 1 / 10
Transport: Take the 10:07 from London Charing Cross to arrive at Hayes at 10:55. Hayes is in Zone 5, so Oyster card can be used. Return trains are at xx:08 and xx:38. Buses can take you to New Addington and the tram or to Bromley.

A short walk through 3 commons.
  • Anonymous

    Seems to me that if you want a longer walk (there being something of a preponderance of very short walks this week...), you could stay with the group on this walk as far as its halfway point in Keston and then do the Hayes to Knockholt walk (SWC walk 82 - 16km/10 miles). Trains back from Knockholt seem to be operating normally at 14 and 45 past the hour

  • Anonymous

    ...or you could go on one of the long-ish walks posted... But maybe that's too straight forward?

  • 29-Dec-18

    12 turned out on an unseasonably mild day for this convoluted walk round 3 wooded commons. Almost unbelievably, Mr Tiger kept up with the group. The whole way. (Probably a good thing as he would almost certainly have gone adrift with so few landmarks).

    The preferred pub, the Fox, was packed out so the majority decamped to the Greyhound – a welcoming pub that served large portions. Very dog-friendly too with many of the mutts, big and small, in evidence, décor to match, and dog snacks and ‘beer’ on offer. What a shame we didn’t have a dog.

    One walker did an extended version of the route but most were happy with the six-miler. This ended abruptly at 2.15 when Hayes station hove into view.

  • Anonymous

    I diverted to Addington just before the end of the walk to pick up the tram connection to East Croydon. The route took me across Coney Hall recreation park, through an open valley and Threehalfpenny wood, arriving in Addington just after 3 pm. This could be an alternative ending, with the pubs in Addington Village as a tea stop.


Sat, 30-Dec-17
Hayes Circular

Length: 9.5km (6m)
Toughness: 1 / 10
Transport: Take the 9:58 from London Victoria (usually Charing Cross, but engineering works diverted this train) to Hayes, arriving 10:48. The more south-easterly residing walkers can join the train at Lewisham (10:19). For the more southerly residing walkers there is a bus cross connection from East Croydon Bus Station with bus No 119. 10:04 might be an approprate departure time. Hayes is in Zone 5, so Oyster Card can be used.

This is a lovely walk through the woodlands of Hayes, Keston and West Wickham Commons, passing the three Keston Lakes and iron age fortifications. Charles Darwin conducted some of his studies in these Commons.

  • 28-Dec-17

    Note, that the GPX file is incorrect between points 40 and 44. Follow the instructions between 40 and 44.

  • Anonymous

    Many thanks to Dirk for a lovely walk.

  • Anonymous

    13 on this walk.

    Weather sunny and dry .

Sat, 31-Dec-16
Saturday First Walk - Hayes Circular
Length: 9.6km (6m)
Toughness: 1/10
Transport: Take the 10:02 from London Charing Cross to Hayes (Kent) arriving 10:44. Hayes is in Zone 5. There are return trains about every 15mins.
This is the first outing of this new walk in the backyard of Southeast Londoners. From the description:
This short walk crosses three commons which have been used for hundreds of years as a source of wood as evidenced by the many coppiced trees. Today coppicing is still practised but the mix of woodlands also provides habitats for a variety of animals. The walk follows in part the River Ravensbourne which fills the three Keston ponds and flows into the Thames at Deptford. On the way you get a glimpse of Ravensbourne Lodge previously owned by the Bonham-Carter family. The most ancient remains encountered on this walk are from the iron age. The walk was inspired by the marked Three Commons Circular Walk and broadly but not exactly follows it.
It is advisable to make a booking for lunch in one of the pubs in Keston since they are both very popular.
Fox Inn 01689852053
The Greyhound 01689856338
  • 01-Jan-17

    Eight walkers set off from Hayes Station at the appointed time, most of them enticed by the prospect of a short train journey from their local station in south-east London. In the course of the morning this nucleus attracted more participants at regular intervals and eventually 12 sat down for an efficiently-served lunch at the very welcoming Fox Inn on an overcast day.

    The author has packed quite a lot of walk into a small area, weaving an intricate route through the wooded commons between Hayes and Keston. Navigation was relatively straightforward along the well-waymarked Three Commons Circular Walk but whenever we were getting complacent we were directed down narrow paths on little loops and whorls through the woods; one hopes these unmarked paths don't change too much from one year to the next. The walk instructions got us round without mishap but a map (or GPS) and a good sense of direction wouldn't go amiss.

    This made a good winter walk, with splashes of colour from the flowering gorse bushes, holly berries, pines and other evergreens, together with a mandarin duck which had fled the hurly-burly of St James Park and chosen a suburban life on Keston Ponds. For at least one walker recovering from a cold the short walk length was just right, but we were back at Hayes by 2.15pm where another walker made the not entirely frivolous suggestion that we could go round again. The author had talked about plans to extend the walk and it would certainly be nice to experience this area in other seasons.