Kent Ramblers

Walk 18

Walk 18: Keston Ponds and Padmall Wood

Distance: 1.8 Miles (50 minutes)

OS Map: Explorer 147 (Start at grid reference TQ419639)

Click for larger map

Park in the free car park off Westerham Road. Numbered circles on map represent concrete posts bearing red numbers that are part of an old nature trail.

Go up the steps at the south end of the car park and follow path above edge of small valley. Follow waymarks for Three Commons Walk. At a seat on the right, take a waymarked right turn along a broad track that descends into a hollow. Follow the Three Commons Walk waymarks along the valley bottom, bearing left at a junction near the lowest point and then right after a couple of metres. When you reach Fishponds Road go straight across and follow the waymarks downhill to a T-junction. Turn left and cross a bridge to a metalled path passing school on left.

Go through gap on right to children’s playground. Don’t enter but turn right to skirt two sides of playground, emerging in open field at far corner. Go straight across field and take path into woods, bearing right past several numbered concrete posts from old nature trail.
Approaching bottom of path, turn left before bridge and keep left uphill through Padmall Wood. At far end is open space and information board. Take path to right of information board, over duckboards and across stream. Follow path, ignoring right turns, back to stream. Keep stream on right for a while, follow path sharp left at post “9” then sharp right to cross stream.

Pass concrete post “8” on right and pond on left. Cross stream again and follow track to reach lowest of Keston Ponds. Cross bottom of pond, then turn left along bank of pond and up steps to Fish Ponds Road.

Cross road and follow edge of next pond. At far end of pond, take path between two ponds and at far side turn right along bank of upper pond to Caesar’s Well. Climb steps back to car park.

Old Nature Trail (black circles on map)

Post 11 is under a sweet chestnut tree and a few metres downhill on the left is a mature holly – note how the leaves have fewer prickles than those of younger trees as they need less protection.

Across the stream from Post 10 is a Wellingtonia or giant sequoia tree.


Post 12 is intended to indicate a European larch – the only common deciduous conifer.  But there is no sign of it now – unless the sorry looking stump nearby is its remains.

Caesar’s Well

A natural spring, the source of the Ravensbourne River.  So-named because of a myth that Caesar

once camped nearby and was short of water for his men.  He spotted a raven frequently visiting the site and correctly deduced that there must be a source of water there.  Hence the names of both the spring and the river (“bourne” being a variation of “burn” meaning “stream”).

Keston Bog

The point on the map marked with a red-circled L is Keston Bog.  This wetland environment is rare in London and is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).  It was here that Charles Darwin studied the sundew

and discovered that it captures and digests insects to obtain the nitrogen that is so scarce in wetland soils.

Padmall Wood

The wood is largely sweet chestnut and birch coppice.  Wood is harvested by cutting the trees back to ground level every 15 to 20 years.  The trees then regenerate from the stumps and the cycle can be repeated many times.

Keston Ponds

The middle pond. The three obvious ponds were built as reservoirs to supply water to nearby Holwood House, once the residence of William Pitt, later a seismological research institution and recently converted into up-market apartments.

Our book of Ten Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more walks like this one.

Ramblers' volunteers in Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected and maintained as possible.  Of course we also organise led walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply want to support our footpath work.  Please join us and become a supporter too.  You need us and we really need you.

If you find that the directions and map for this walk are incorrect in any way, please report the problem to

home | getting started | support us | contact us | path problems