|The Beckenham Village sign on Beckenham Green|
The Beck Corridor follows the route of the river Beck, which probably got its name from the village, rather than the other way around as one might think. When the railway arrived in 1857, the little village of Beckenham began to grow, and is now a small town, a suburb of London. But it likes being a distinct community, and this is the village sign at Beckenham Green, just by the church, where the walk started. Beckenham Junction station is visible over the crossroads.
|An old signpost in Beckenham|
We looked around the churchyard, which was full of old graves and their stones and enclosures. Everywhere were plants and flowers, some cultivated and some wild, growing over and around the stones and memorials. Primroses and celandines were in flower. Some might say this looks unkempt, but it is good for biodiversity. And the churchyard was not neglected; potentially damaging baby trees were cut back.
We left through the 13th century lich gate (much restored) and walked through the town, past the old signpost in the second photo, to Kelsey Park.
This is a wonderful park to find in a suburb. It contains two lakes formed by damming the Beck, which are full of bird life in daytime and bat life at night. I have seen Daubenton's Bats as well as common and soprano pipistrelles. (But not on this walk. At night, in summer.)
The photo below was taken at the Beckenham end of the park, where the gate is dedicated to Tom Edward Thornton, 1857-1933, "former editor and proprietor of The Beckenham Journal, through whose efforts this park was acquired in 1913 for the enjoyment of the public." There is a lot of local history not readily available on line.
|Ewa Prokop and a walker by the east gate of Kelsey Park, Beckenham|
There is an ice-house at the far end of the park which originally belonged to the Kelsey Manor Estate. There are several ice-houses and ice-wells scattered around the borough of Bromley, probably one for each estate. This one would have been supplied from the lake.
Over the road from the park is the entrance to the Harvington Estate, another woodland through which the Beck runs. There is still a line of Scots Pines which probably lined the original driveway. The big old cedar in the next photo would have been close to the house.
You can just about make out at the base of the cedar how the hollows have been filled with concrete and wire mesh. This method of caring for trees is not followed these days. The trees are strong enough without it, and decay fungi are just as likely to be trapped behind the concrete as they are to get into the tree without it.
|Ewa Prokop and a walker by a big cedar in the Harvington Estate|
The trouble with photography on overcast winter days under trees is that there isn't enough light for real sharpness with my little digital camera. I don't have any really standout shots from this walk. Photos like this one of Ewa are a little bit fuzzy.
Past the estate, we walked through Harvington Park and then along some roads to High Broom Wood. This is a stretch of ancient woodland along the Beck. It is surrounded by houses and estates, so does not get the kind treatment it deserves. There are some new tree sculptures in the park, and one has already been vandalised; a dragonfly's wings have been broken off. But the park has a "friends" group, and is clearly managed.
High Broom Wood is a wet woodland, or carr, and has many alders. Their purple leaf buds and purple catkins were quite colourful close up. Those shown below seem to be unopened, and you can see the rounder female catkins from last year in the background. There are some willows and also a great deal of pendulous sedge, which can be a real pest in a damp garden as they reproduce and grow at a great rate. (Personal experience there.)
|Male alder catkins on a fallen branch in High Broom Wood|
We also saw celandines, wood anemone and wood sorrel, all in flower, and lots of bluebells growing up strongly.
Part way through High Broom Wood, the walk ended, and we split up to make our various ways home.