Kings Wood, Sanderstead

If you go down to the woods today…

18 April 2017

Our recent woodland rediscovery is in Sanderstead. Kings Wood sits between Old Farleigh Road and Limpsfield Road and is a beautiful ancient woodland. It’s relatively flat and criss-crossed by pathways, making it an easy terrain for all ages.

I haven’t been to this pretty spot for a good few years, despite it being the regular stomping ground of my godson Oli and his older brother Fin. So I’m rather glad I listened to their mum Lisa’s recommendation to definitely revisit in bluebell season.

Kings Wood, Sanderstead

Thus on the Easter weekend, we were met by a sea of bluebells as we entered Kings Wood, with Lilly the dog, rushing ahead to explore.

Historically the woodland provided the Sanderstead parish with timber, fruit, nuts and herbs, and was then a games reserve in Victorian times. Today it’s cared for by the Friends of Kings Wood along with the council. Don’t just expect to see vast expanses of bluebells – there’s a whole host of other flora and fauna. White wood anemones vye for attention in the carpet of blue, and if you’re on the lookout for them you might ‘spot’ a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which call the woods their home. On the outskirts of the woods we were passed by small groups of horseriders. Yes this is in Croydon, rather than the Ashdown Forest, folks.

Kings Wood, Sanderstead

As we wandered through we noticed a series of numbered posts dotted along the pathways, which are also plotted on the Kings Wood map (displayed at several junctions). This is presumably to stop you getting lost in the Manhattan-like grid, or perhaps to try your hand at orienteering. Using the posts as an aid, we navigated our way to the central square to find the well-hidden pond, which was restored back in 2002.

Kings Wood, Sanderstead

Whilst carefully treading through the undergrowth something caught the corner of my eye, and when I looked up I saw a large roe deer staring straight back at me. Again, yes this is Croydon. It’s not my first sighting of a deer in our borough’s woodland by any means, but it always comes as a pleasant surprise to encounter one of these elegant chaps. We spent a good while frozen in a cross-species staring match before we both moved off in different directions. I hope he (or she) had a friend waiting around the corner.

Kings Wood, Sanderstead

Requisite slightly blurry deer photo

We believe the bluebells will be in bloom for another few weeks yet, so if you fancy a peaceful woodland stroll we recommend you get yourself down there. We’ll be back there again soon with Lilly, if we can keep her away from the pond, that is. Let’s just say we took home a very muddy dog.

If you’re looking for a more organised walk, we notice that the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society (CNHSS) has a Botany Walk next sunday (23 April) at 2pm in conjunction with Surrey Wildlife Trust, which I’m sure will be a lot more informative on the flora and fauna front than my amateur musings.

Kings Wood, Sanderstead

Posted by Julia


Susana Jarvis

Hi Julia,
Thank you so much for your beautiful descriptions and photos of the ancient wood that was my childhood adventure playground back in the 50’s. I loved the carpets of bluebells and would gather armfulls to stuff into jamjars…Our house in Audley Drive was very close to Kings Wood. I now live in a remote rural area in NSW, but my memories of Kings Wood are still very clear, enhanced further by your article…thank you again and may you and your family continue to enjoy the beautiful, ancient Kings Wood.
Warm wishes,

Julia Woollams

We think you can enter from various points but we’ve always gone in from Kingsdown which continues from Orchard Road off the Limpsfield Road in Sanderstead/Hamsey Green.

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