Happy Valley and Farthing Downs is a wonderful rural place to walk in Coulsdon, just half an hours drive from Tooting.
Happy Valley does exactly what it says on the tin, whatever the season it really is a beautiful place to walk.... so long as you have the right boots! As the name suggest Happy Valley is a steeply sided valley with open fields, beautiful views and woodlands to explore. There are steep routes for those looking for a more challlenging walk, leave the main path and venture to the top of the grasslands for the best views... and less people! The majority of walkers I encounter during the week tend to take the path from Happy Valley Car Park down and straight through the valley.
There are a number of different routes you can take depending on your preferred terrain. The chalk paths can be a little slippy during the winter months but I enjoy a bit more of a challenging walk and actively seek out the climbs off the main path.
Farthing Downs is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to it being part of the largest area of chalk grassland habitat remaining in the Greater London area. There is an abundance of downland plants, this type of grassland can support up to 40 different wild flowers in a single square metre of turf. A particularly rare plant growing here is the greater yellow rattle, which is found in only a handful of sites in Britain. Happy Valley and Farthing Downs support most of the British population of this species.
Croydon Council and the City of London created a self-guided trail to introduce people to the wildlife and history of this special place which you can download here.
I always notice horse hoof tracks on our walks but we are yet to bump into any riders on our adventures, but this is something to be aware of. Throughout the woodland at the bottom of Happy Valley no horse riding is permitted but there are a number of bridleways throughout the area.
There are also often a couple of cattle and a flock of sheep grazing in a field along the walk which I just love to see, it makes you truly feel that you are a million miles from the hustle and bustle of London!
There is another field which sometimes has horses in, which just adds to the experience for me but is worth noting if your dog is likely to be excessively interested in them!
Like all really good dog walking spots Happy Valley of course has a lovely, country pub to reward yourself in at the end of your walk! The Fox is located just adjacent to the Happy Valley Car Park so you won't miss it if you park here for your walk. I'm yet to visit The Fox myself so I can't comment on the food or the atmosphere but I'm sure that I will rectify this over the summer!
By car - park for free at either Happy Valley Lane Car Park, Downs Rd, Coulsdon CR5 1AA or at Farthing Downs Car Park, Ditches Ln, Coulsdon CR5 1DA.
By Public Transport - The 466 bus stops at The Fox beside Happy Valley or you can take the 60 bus from Cousldon South Train Station and get off at Tollers Lane or Chaldon Way to start your walk on the Farthing Downs side.