It’s a good bet that somewhere will be fairly lush and green when it’s got “woods” in its name.
Elmstead Woods is only 15 minutes from my house on the train but I’d never even heard of it before a couple of weeks ago.
Right from when you get off the train, you can tell you’re somewhere with a lot more trees per square metre than most of the city. It actually feels like Kent more than London- the air smells fresher and cleaner.
Even the station has greenery- there are ornamental gardens on the platforms which are maintained by a community group.
Access to the woodland itself is up the hill- turn left out of the station and keep walking until you get to a turnstile into the trees.
It stretches for longer on the map than in reality; the lower part that borders onto the outskirts of Bromley town is now (unfortunately for most people) a golf course.
The accessible area of the woods is beautiful, and there are multiple trails you can follow- it also makes up part of the Green Chain walk, like so many of the other places I’ve explored so far (one day I might even try and do the whole thing if I’m feeling particularly ambitious!)
Because of the time of year there was an added element of danger to this exploration- conkers! I nearly got whacked on the head countless times- the whole walk was punctuated by them thumping to the ground around me (I tried not to stop too often, especially not under big trees…)
It’s easy to immerse yourself in the woodland here- although there are trails to follow, there are no designated footpaths as such, and in most areas, not much undergrowth; so you can kind of wander in any direction you want. This time I ended up coming out the other side of the woods and getting the train back from Grove Park, the next station along the line.
My only advice for this one is maybe wear a hat if you’re here in the autumn. More adventures to come soon!