List of walks in section order, with links
Date Walk Distance
14 March 2009 Section 1 - (Newhaven to) Peacehaven to Lewes 18.2 km (11.4 miles)
04 April 2009 Section 2 - Lewes to South Chailey 14.7 km (9.2 miles)
30 May 2009 Section 3 - South Chailey to Danehill 18.3 km (11.4 miles)
03 October 2009 Section 4 - Danehill to East Grinstead 15.6 km (9.8 miles)
20 November 2010 Section 5 - East Grinstead to Oxted 23.5 km (14.7 miles)
11 December 2010 Section 6 - Oxted to Coney Hall 20.6 km (12.9 miles)
08 January 2011 Section 7 - Coney Hall to Greewnich 19.3 km (12.1 miles)

The Meridian Walk is a project I started doing with Haydn and Pat. The aim was to walk from Peacehaven to Greenwich, keeping to the line of the Greenwich Meridian as closely as possible (whilst avoiding major roads).

I walked the first two sections of the route before I had started this log - so they did not get written up (in fact, the write-up for 30 May 2009 was my very first log entry). However, I've added a photograph of the principal meridian monuments on these sections.

I picked the route by the simple expedient of drawing a straight line on the relevant OS 1:25 000 maps between the 0° 00' ticks on the top and bottom map borders. I then looked for footpaths heading roughly north, keeping to within about one kilometre of the line. In places this meant I ended up taking a very zigzag route.

Only after I'd finished walking the route did I discover a website called 'The Greenwich Meridian - where east meets west', which contains an extraordinarily comprehensive illustrated catalogue of meridian markers. It lists all the markers I'd found, plus many I'd missed (though I don't think I missed anything embarrassingly obvious).

14 March 2009: Meridian Walk, Section 1 - (Newhaven to) Peacehaven to Lewes

18.2 km (11.4 miles)

The first section of the meridian walk was Newhaven - Peacehaven - Lewes, walked on 14 March 2009. The meridian meets the sea at Peacehaven - the Newhaven to Peacehaven Section was added to give a reasonable length walk, with a convenient ending in Lewes.

Peacehaven
King George V meridian monument in Peacehaven

Lamb

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04 April 2009: Meridian Walk, Section 2 - Lewes to South Chailey

14.7 km (9.2 miles)

The second section of the meridian walk was Lewes to South Chailey. We actually walked in reverse, to suit the bus timetable, on 04 April 2009. Keeping close to the Meridian meant taking a very zigzag route, doubling the straight line distance.

Landport
Meridian monument in Landport, Lewes (bronze elements stolen)

Skull

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30 May 2009: Meridian Walk, Section 3 - South Chailey to Danehill

18.3 km (11.4 miles)

Lane End Common
Meridian monument on Lane End Common

To do the third section of the meridian walk, we took the train to Lewes, then the No 121 bus from Lewes to South Chailey. A hot and sunny day, so we were glad to find that a lot of the walk was through woods or along shaded lanes. The route started by going east through Balneath Wood, then turned north, roughly tracking the disused railway from Lewes to Sheffield Park (where it becomes the Bluebell Railway). Before reaching Sheffield Park Station, we side-tracked from the planned route to pick up the meridian monument on Lane End Common - a short stone column topped by a semi-sphere with an inset brass strip to indicate the meridian.

Sheffield Park
Meridian sign at Sheffield Park

At Sheffield Park we bought platform tickets (not cheap) to see the signs marking the meridian on the end of the platform, and next to the signal just north of the platform (it also allowed Haydn a fix of steam train, and me to have a pint of shandy in the buffet).

From Sheffield Park, the route turned west to reach the Sloop Inn, on the Sussex Ouse, for another pint of shandy. From there, the route went roughly north-by-north-west reach Danehill. Danehill has a Meridian monument, erected as a millennium project in 2000 - a rather ugly little brick pillar, but conveniently located opposite the bus stop.

From Danehill we returned by taking the No 270 bus to Haywards Heath, and then the train.

Danehill
Meridian monument at Danehill

Orchids

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03 October 2009: Meridian Walk, Section 4 - Danehill to East Grinstead

15.6 km (9.8 miles)

Danehill
Meridian monument at Danehill

We have finally got round to walking another section of the meridian, from Danehill to East Grinstead. There were four of us for the walk: me, Haydn, Pat and Viv. Haydn decided it would be convenient to take the car, so I met the others at Haywards Heath Station, and we drove to Danehill, parking the car in a small car park close to the meridian monument.

We revisited the monument, and then set off to walk to East Grinstead, keeping as close to the meridian as possible whilst avoiding major roads.

Footpath marker
Old concrete footpath marker, off A275 near Cumnor House School

The start of the route I had picked followed a large reversed 'S', taking the road to Horsted Keynes for a short way, dropping down into the woods along the valley of the Danehill Brook, climbing back up to cross the A275 at Cumnor House School, touching the outskirts of Chelwood Common, re-crossing the A275, dropping back into the Danehill Brook valley and climbing out again to reach the hamlet of Birchgrove.

From Birchgrove, it's possible to follow the meridian quite closely along paths and lanes almost as far as Weir Wood Reservoir. There is a fine view over the Ashdown Forest and the country beyond from the Goat car park, which we approached along Hindleap Lane (the Goat was an old pub).

Ford across lane
Ford across lane, north of Birchgrove (on meridian)

From crossroads near the Goat car park, we followed a track northwards into some woods, to reach Lavender Platt, a private house in a substantial clearing in the wood. I dithered for a bit here, as there was no waymarking though the woods, but eventually chose a path heading in the right direction, which brought us out of the woods and into a small valley. This was occupied by a few small ponds and lakes made by damming the stream. These must be recent, as they are not marked on the OS map. I tried to check our position using my Garmin Geko GPS, but (to my surprise) it couldn't find enough satellites to fix a position. We stopped here for lunch, and then walked on, finally picking up some waymarks and sufficient landmarks to confirm we had not lost our way.

Miniature cliff
Miniature cliff above Mudbrooks House

My intention was then to follow around the east (dam) end of Weir Wood Reservoir to meet the Sussex Boarder Path. This started well. There was an interesting outcrop of rocks above Mudbrooks House (a miniature cliff, only a couple of metres high, but appearing to be more imposing that the reality). There were hissing geese at Spring Hill Farm, and a very amiable old horse in a boggy field near the water works at the head of the reservoir, who insisted on ambling alongside me.

view
View north over Weir Wood Reservoir

But then there was a notice from the local council announcing the path ahead was closed for re-surfacing. These notices are always only semi-legible (councils don't seem to understand the effects of weather and sunlight), never seem to offer useful advice about alternative routes, and the closure is often ineffective, so we pressed on, taking a minor detour to look at the dam.

Geese
Geese at Spring Hill Farm

The route was indeed closed off from Botley Wood onwards (it looks as if an 'accessible' path is being built). It would probably have been possible to climb the barrier and follow the route, but as it wasn't critical to achieving my intention, we followed a path north from the dam to meet the Sussex Border Path near a sewage works. Here the council had again decided to close all paths, in order to rebuild a bridge (on a scale about three times the size of the original bridge). The locals had moved the barriers aside, so we could continue northwards unobstructed - only to find that the council had made two further attempts to frustrate people walking into East Grinstead from the south. Fortunately, both were ineffective.

Horse
Horse near Weir Wood water works

Once into East Grinstead, we turned east along a suburban road to reach the Forest Way, a cycle track along a disused railway. We turned north along the Forest Way for a short distance and then turned west along Lewes Road to reach the centre of town.

There is a small, obscure meridian monument on the south side of Lewes Road, erected in 2000 for the millennium.

In the town centre I asked a local to recommend a teashop, and we were pointed towards the local bookshop, where we had teas and coffees. Selling teas is a good strategy by the bookshop, as we ended up buying books. I came away with a guide to the Sussex Diamond Way (a long distance path I had heard about, but knew nothing of), and, to everybody's amusement, a book called 'Walking the Triangulation Points of Sussex', by David Bathurst (the others don't share my attachment to these beautiful landscape features).

From east Grinstead, we took the No 270 bus back to Danehill to pick up the car, and so home.

Meridian monument
Meridian monument on south side of Lewes Road, East Grinstead

Toadstool

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20 November 2010: Meridian Walk, Section 5 - East Grinstead to Oxted

23.5 km (14.7 miles)

Sackville College
Sackville College, East Grinstead

My project to walk along the Meridian hadn't progressed for over a year, so I thought it was about time I had another go at it. I therefore decided to walk from East Grinstead to Oxted, which I thought would be about 10 miles - a reasonable winter walk. When I checked, I found it was actually 14.7 miles, rather a long walk for a short winter day. However, I felt committed to doing it (and had no other walk prepared), so I set off as planned.

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, near Dormans Station

I got the train to East Grinstead, and then walked to the High Street to buy a sandwich for lunch. From the High Street I followed Church Lane (passing Sackville College, a Jacobean almshouse completed in 1619), De La Warr Road and then College Lane to cross the A 22. At this point the A 22 is called Beeching Way - no doubt some official's humorous recognition of the fact it is built on the trackbed of an old railway. North of the A 22 crossing I picked up the Sussex Border Path. It took me further east than I'd have liked, but I chose the route to minimise the amount of urban walking. I followed the Sussex Border Path as far as the edge of Blackhatch Wood, where it meets the Tandridge Border Path (not marked on the OS maps, despite being waymarked). The short section of path between Larches Farm and Blackhatch Wood has been made difficult to follow by the landowner, but isn't actually obstructed.

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, on road linking Lingfield with Dormansland

I then followed the route of the Tandridge Border Path to Dormans Station. Views of the Cook's Pond Viaduct are the most interesting feature of this section of the walk.

Field
Field approaching Park Farm

From Dormans Station I took a tarmac path going north east to join Mill Lane. At the junction of the path and Mill Lane I found the first of a series of small granite monuments marking the meridian, erected in 2000 by Lingfield & Dormansland Parish Council. From Mill Lane I continued north on a bridleway through part of Lingfield Park Golf Course to reach the road linking Lingfield with Dormansland. This passes underneath the railway, and little way beyond the bridge is another granite Lingfield & Dormansland Parish Council meridian marker.

Footbridge
Footbridge, approaching Rushford Farm

I then followed a series of footpaths northwards, linking Carewell Farm, Park Farm, Rushford Farm, Waterside, Bowerland Farm and Chellows Farm. At Waterside I picked up the first of a series of waymarks for the 'Lingfield & Crowhurst Age to Age Walk'. It is a circular walk, established in 1995, linking two notable old trees in the area. Approaching Bowerland Farm I passed a field of free range pigs, separated from the path by two low strands of electric fence. Between Bowerland Farm and Chellows Farm I found yet another granite Lingfield & Dormansland Parish Council meridian marker, on the parish boundary.

Pig
Pig, approaching Bowerland Farm

At Chellows Farm I turned east to join Caterfield Lane, which I followed to Oldhouse Farm. I could have continued on the footpath, but it looked very muddy, and the road kept closer to the meridian. From Oldhouse farm I turned west to Crowhurst, little more than a church and a couple of farms. The church is dedicated to St George and boasts an ancient yew and so gets confused with the other Crowhurst in East Sussex which is also dedicated to St George and boasts an ancient yew. However, this Crowhurst's yew has a (very small) door into its hollow centre, and was nominated by the Tree Council as one of its 'Fifty Great British Trees' in 2002.

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, between Bowerland Farm and Chellows Farm

I stopped at the church to eat my sandwiches, but didn't stop to look at it, as I was conscious daylight was getting short.

Ancient yew
Ancient yew, St George's church, Crowhurst (Surrey)

From Crowhurst I took the path from Pound Farm to Foyle Farm (crossing the railway on a footpath level crossing) and then the path to Popes Lane and Stockett's Manor. From Stockett's Manor I then took the path to Hurst Green, with a footbridge over the River Eden, here quite small. This section of path was bracketed with notices saying that there were only two footpaths over this landowner's property, and they must be strictly followed. I did as I was told, but it's evident that the local dog walkers prefer the edges of the field rather than walking across its centre.

War memorial
War memorial, Hurst Green

I was tempted to get the train from Hurst Green (a suburb of Oxted), but calculated I had half an hour's daylight left, so could just make Oxted Station. My route took me along the road skirting Hurst Green (a simple wooden war memorial on a corner marks the Meridian) and then a series of private roads (but public bridleways) though an estate of very large, prosperous houses. A very short section of the route followed the Greensand Way. Having crossed the railway (here in tunnel under the greensand ridge) I turned north to follow an urban bridleway alongside the railway, dropping steeply. At the bottom of the bridleway, on East Hill, I paused to admire the railway viaduct over the valley of the River Eden, and then worked my way through a small estate to reach Station Road East, a parade of shops in finest tudorbethan style, just as daylight started to fade. Here I stopped for a coffee (at Costa Coffee) and then took the train home.

The weather was dull and dreary (though it didn't rain), the footpaths were very muddy, the landscape only intermittently interesting and I'd had to walk faster than I like, to cover the distance in daylight - so not one of my better walks. But it had to be done, and would be very pleasant in summer.

Lingfield & Crowhurst Age to Age Walk waymark
Lingfield & Crowhurst Age to Age Walk waymark

Oak leaves

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11 December 2010: Meridian Walk, Section 6 - Oxted to Coney Hall

20.6 km (12.9 miles)

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, on the wall of Paydens Limited, Oxted

Having resumed my walk along the meridian, I've decided to finish it this year. I've split the remaining walk into two sections, a 'country' section and a 'London' section, which will be almost entirely on pavement.

Accordingly I took the train to Oxted to pick up from where I'd left off on 20 November. I thought very likely that there would be some sort of meridian marker on Station Road East, the main shopping street in Oxted. I'd not spotted anything when I walked up it on 20 November, but this time I found what I was looking for - a simple bronze plaque, low down on the wall of Paydens Limited, Dispensing Chemist.

North Downs
View of the North Downs from Oxted

From Oxted I followed the Greensand Way link path to the North Downs Way, crossing the M 25 motorway. There was a surprising amount of snow lingering on the ground, and the bridge over the motorway was very slippery where snow had been compacted into ice.

M25
M 25, North Downs behind

North of the Motorway the North Downs Way runs under the scarp of the Downs for a short way, coincident with the Vanguard Way. Along this stretch is a plaque mounted on a wooden stand marking the meridian, 'funded by Surry County Council and the Vanguard's Rambling Club' (the club who devised the Vanguard Way).

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, on North Downs Way

At Titsey Park I followed the North Downs Way diagonally up the scarp to the top of Botley Hill, (267 m, a Marilyn). I diverted a short way off my route to revisit the trig point marking the summit. You can't actually touch it without trespassing, but it's very close to the fence between the field in which it stand and the road. Botley Hill Farmhouse is actually a pub - though not one I've ever tried.

Botley Hill
Trig point on Botley Hill

From Botley Hill I continued east on the North Downs Way until it stopped following the B 269. I then turned north, along Beddlestead Lane. From Beddlestead Lane I took the footpath to Cheverells Farm. Tucked into the valley below the farm is a strange complex of low buildings hidden behind an earth bank with smoking chimneys. A factory farm unit perhaps.

View
View south-east from North Downs Way, above Titsey

Beyond Cheverells Farm I had to walk along a section of Croydon Road, part of the B 269. Usually this wouldn't be too bad, as there is a convenient cycleway alongside the road. However, this was obstructed by drifts of snow up to a foot deep, and passing vans sprayed melt water a surprising distance. I was glad to leave the road and take the path towards Beddlestead Farm. Beyond Lumberdine Wood I had to side-step down the snowy sides of the valley. The valley is not named on the OS map, but is rather beautiful.

Valley
Valley between Chelsham Court Farm and Beddlestead Farm

From the valley bottom I picked up the Tandridge Border Path, which I'd walked in the opposite direction on 06 February 2010. I won't therefore repeat a description of this section of the route here. I followed the Tandridge Border Path as far as the White Bear in Fickleshole, where I stopped for a pint (Surrey Bitter from the Pilgrim Brewery in Reigate).

New Addington
New Addington, looking north along the meridian

From the White Bear I crossed a couple of fields (full of horses) to reach the route of an old Roman road. Although not marked on the OS map as a right of way, you can follow the Roman road to the outskirts of New Addington.

New Addington was started as a 'garden village' in 1935, and since developed further by Croydon Council. As Wikipedia notes, New Addington has suffered from a bad reputation in the neighbouring areas, reflecting upon anti-social behaviour and gang violence, but Its isolation has perversely given it a strong sense of community and independence.

View
View towards London, from path east of New Addington

I think I could have walked along the eastern boundary of New Addington, but the map wasn't clear. I wanted to see something of the town, so I walked along King Henry's Drive, one of the main roads through the town. The bit of the town I saw defies its reputation, houses looking neat and tidy and most units on the industrial estate appearing to be functioning.

I turned off King Henry's Drive along Vulcan Way, to take a scruffy path behind the industrial estate to reach the footpath to Layhams Road. There are good views to London and the towers of Canary Wharf from the footpath. Before reaching the road, the path passes a large police dog training establishment.

Meridian monument
Meridian monument, Coney Hall Recreation Ground

Layhams Road was fortunately not too busy, as it is very narrow. I followed the road into Coney Hall, the start of built-up London, where I briefly picked up the London Loop as it crossed Coney Hall Recreation Ground.

In the middle of the recreation ground is a concrete pillar, looking like a shrunken trig point with a ball on top, marking 'the prime meridian of the world'. The monument has been painted many times, and the inscriptions are becoming difficult to read.

From the recreation ground I walked to Addington Road to pick up the No 119 bus to Corydon. I've used this bus stop fairly often, as it's where I change for the No 246 bus to Westerham when I go walking in that area.

A good and interesting walk, in reasonable weather, with lingering snow to give a different aspect to the countryside. I've now only got the streets of London to walk to reach Greenwich.

Pheasant footprint

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08 January 2011: Meridian Walk, Section 7 - Coney Hall to Greenwich

19.3 km (12.1 miles)

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, school playing field, West Wickham

I failed to complete my walk along the meridian in 2010, as I had picked up a bad cold which took a long time to shake off. Today was the first day I'd felt like walking for weeks, and as the weather forecast was reasonable, I got the No 119 bus to Coney Hall to finish the meridian walk.

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, Farnaby Road, Bromley Park

As it was to be a wholly urban walk, I just took an umbrella for protection against the rain, rather than waterproofs. Although there were occasional threats of rain, the day stayed dry and finished in beautiful winter sunshine.

Meridian marker
Meridian marker in pavement, Bromley Hill (A 21), Downham

My version of OS 1:25 000 map 161 (London South) has the Greenwich meridian marked on it by a thick green line, with a note saying the line portrays both the Bradley (1750) and Airy (1851) alignments. The Greenwich meridian was set according to the location of the telescope used by the Astronomer Royal to establish time. When the Airy transit circle telescope was erected in 1850, the meridian move 19 feet to the east (about 1/50 second of time).

Prefab
Prefab, Wentland Road, Excalibur Estate

My copy of map 161 was last revised in 2000, and I think the line was added to celebrate the millennium. For some odd reason, the millennium and the meridian became inextricably linked, and many of the monuments making the meridian I've found were erected as millennium projects. It would be interesting to know what linked the two in people's minds [1].

Torridon Road
Torridon Road, Catford - nearly coincident with the meridian

There is not much to say about the walk from Coney Hall to Greenwich. It provides a perfect cross-section of south London's domestic architecture in all its varieties - but it must be said that this architecture is not intrinsically interesting or beautiful.

I'd decided to stay as close to the meridian as I could, so the way was largely along streets. In Downham I was able to follow a short section of the Downham Woodland Walk, which forms part of the Capital Ring and the Green Chain Walk.

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, subway, Hither Green Railway Station

In Catford, just north of Downham, I walked along Wentland Road through a very curious, quite extensive, estate of dilapidated prefabs. I didn't think there were any prefabs remaining. This is the Excalibur Estate, the largest surviving estate of prefabs in England, built between 1945 and 1946. A number of the prefabs are Grade II listed, and there is a very interesting account of the Excalibur Estate on English Heritage's Listed Buildings Online website (just search for 'Excalibur Estate').

Meridian marker
Meridian marker, wall of Greenwich Park, near the Ranger's House

North of the Excalibur Estate, Torridon Road is nearly (but not quite) coincident with the meridian for about a kilometre - the nearest I have been able to come to actually walking along the meridian, rather than just crossing it.

I'd done some research on the web to find the location of meridian markers along the way. The first marker I came across, in West Wickham, was not accessible, being in the corner of a fenced-off school playing field. It consists of a tall decorated pillar and, some distance away, a dish-shaped object. It's possible that the pillar is intended to throw a shadow onto the dish under certain conditions.

Royal Observatory
Flamsteed House, Royal Observatory, Greenwich

The best of the markers were those erected by the Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society in (inevitably) 2000, either side of Farnaby Road, as it crosses Shortlands Golf Course. On the south side of the road is a stainless steel pillar, about a metre high, and on the north side there is a stainless steel disc.

At Hither Green Railway Station the meridian is marked by a metal strip across the vault of the subway under the railway. It looks recent, so I'd guess it's the result of yet another millennium project.

View
View from Greenwich Park, looking north-west

Greenwich is littered with meridian markers. I briefly looked into the Royal Observatory, now part of the National Maritime Museum, to look at the Airy transit circle telescope, which defines the meridian, and got told off for trying to photograph it. The marker closest to the transit circle telescope (a spiky modern sculpture) had a long queue of Japanese tourist waiting to be photographed against it.

Sundial
Greenwich Millennium Sundial - on the meridian

The views from the Royal Observatory over the Thames and London are superb. From the Observatory I continued to follow the meridian as closely as I could until I reached the Thames. The map suggests it reaches the Thames at Greenwich Power Station, though I could find no marker to confirm the exact location on the embankment.

Having reached the Thames, I called into the Cutty Sark Tavern (the nearest pub) for a celebratory pint. It's a nice location with fine views, but I didn't like it as a pub, though I'd be hard pushed to explain why.

From the Cutty Sark I walked along the Thames as far as the site of the Cutty Sark itself, currently hidden under scaffolding and tarpaulins, and then up to Greenwich Station for a train home.

An intermittently interesting walk, finishing in beautiful sunshine.

A Thames Tale

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[1] The link between the millennium and the meridian is of course time - the millennium beginning at midnight on the Greenwich meridian. There is a fascinating discussion of the validity of this claim in an article about 'The Millennium' on 'The Greenwich Meridian - where east meets west' website.