QWAG members toured the upper reaches of the Kyd Brook on their autumn stroll.
The choice of Petts Wood as the location for the members’ autumn stroll and social was very deliberate. It has been said with some justification that QWAG is only interested in the River Quaggy once it enters the Borough of Lewisham at Chinbrook Meadows. The fact that the Quaggy is known as the Kyd Brook in Bromley Borough has helped to reinforce this view – indeed some people are convinced that the two are separate rivers altogether.
The reason QWAG has concentrated its efforts in the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich is simple. It was here that the remaining natural sections of the Quaggy were under threat from the flood alleviation scheme proposed in the 1990s – and it was the desire to fight against this badly designed scheme that led directly to QWAG’s foundation.
That doesn’t mean that the Kyd Brook hasn’t suffered at least as badly from man’s interference, the worst examples being the suburbs of Petts Wood and Locksbottom. Here long stretches of the river have been buried or channelised. Extensive culverting and channelisation has also occured between Chinbrook Meadows and Chislehurst station.
However this autumn stroll was not organized specifically to highlight these issues, but rather to give QWAG members an opportunity to discover a couple of natural stretches of the Kyd Brook of which they may not have been aware. The walk was timed in the hope of catching the peak of the autumn colour changes in the extensive woodlands. After the stroll some members stopped off at the Sovereign of the Seas pub for well-deserved refreshments.
Photos from the walk
Members stand at the confluence of the Main and East branches of the Kyd Brook. The approximate location, which has been buried underground for many years, can be determmined from old Ordnance Survey maps. A shallow valley extending downstream of the confluence is the only evidence these days of the course of the river. The Kyd Brook is buried in a culvert for much of its journey through Petts Wood and many of the local residents are no doubt unaware of its existence.
The East Branch disappears beneath the photographer into the culvert. The photo shows the trash screen – it is installed to prevent large objects carried by the stream in spate causing blockages in the culvert. The next natural stretch of the Kyd Brook downstream of this point is 1½ kilometres distant where it flows through the National Trust owned Hawkwood Estate.
This natural stretch of the East Branch extends over a kilometere south from Petts Wood. Nearer to Petts Wood the stream flows at the bottom of domestic gardens and is often tightly constrained by toe boards. Further upstream towards Crofton the terrain is more open and the stream has developed a more natural meandering course with alternating riffles and pools.
At Crofton the East Branch emerges from a pipe over half a kilometre in length. Between here and the source there is only one more publicly accessible location where the stream can be seen. This is where it flows along the edge of Farnborough Recreation Ground in Locksbottom. A small seasonal tributary, the Darrick Wood source, joins the East Branch underground between these two places.
The walkers cross to the Main Branch of the Kyd Brook via the London Loop. The London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP), or London Loop, is a recently created long distance footpath that skirts the edge of the capital. The section through the Borough of Bromley is particularly scenic, but unfortunately the spectacular autumn colour changes are yet to occur this year.
The London Loop bridges the Main Branch of the Kyd Brook on Crofton Heath. Not far upstream from this bridge the stream has been diverted around a trapezeoidal enclosure, which pre-dates the 1871 Ordnance Survey map. And another half a kilometre up it disappears under the houses of Locksbottom. It can next be seen flowing (just) at Farnborough Recreation Ground where it appears from a bridge under Crofton Road. The source of the Main Branch is buried by the side of this road a short distance to the west.
The walkers follow the Main Branch downstream back to Petts Wood. The Main Branch flows through dense woodland for about a kilometere from the London Loop bridge before it disappears beneath the sprawl of Petts Wood. However the distance measured along the river must be considerably longer due to its many meanders. This stretch gives the impression of being the most natural and untouched part of the whole River Quaggy.