Petts Wood and the Hawkwood Estate are the National Trust’s hidden gem in south London. If you haven’t visited you should.
Covering over 150 acres of beautiful woodland, Petts Wood is one of the best woods in London for family walks and cycle rides and for longer walks through south London on the London Loop and Green Chain routes.
Easy to access by public transport, Petts Wood is wonderful for days out with kids in London all year around. There are great climbing trees for adventures in autumn and winter, beautiful bluebells in spring and a fun stream for cooling down on hot days in summer.
And for older children and adults Petts Wood can very easily be combined with the amazing Chiselhurst Caves which are an easy walk away.
To help you plan your visit to Petts Wood & the Hawkwood estate, I’ve got for your here everything you need to know for a great day out including:
Petts Wood & Hawkwood Walks
Family Walks In Petts Woods
Family walks in Petts Wood are great fun because the wood is big enough to feel wild whilst unlike Epping Forest not so big you can get lost.
So on family walks it really makes sense to head off piste.
With younger kids head for the Edelmann memorial up the central path and then potter your way back. There are easy climbing logs along the way.
With older kids it’s most fun to head into the smaller paths east of the main entrance path that are wonderfully wild and wend your way up the Willet Memorial sundial via some of the patches of heathland which make great spots for picnics.
Petts Wood Walks In Winter
There are tiny springs running through the wood which eventually join the Thames as the River Quaggy so it does get muddy in wet periods but all the gullies and the ditches just add to the fun.
Petts Wood Walks In Summer
In the summer, leave time to head round to Kyd Brook on the Hawkwood Estate where you can paddle and catch tiddlers. Unfortunately, the National Trust don’t give access through Tong Farm so head for the path at the top or the bottom of the wood.
If you’ve come to Petts Wood by train – see below – you can get the train to Petts Wood station and explore the main wood first before walking via the Hawkwood Estate and Kyd Book to Chiselhurst station.
Petts Wood Circular Walk
It’s very easy to do a circular walk around Petts Wood. From experience, I wouldn’t recommend the circular walk on the National Trust map – see below – as it takes you too close to the road and doesn’t cover the wildest and most beautiful bits of the wood.
You can create a circular route by following the inner footpaths on the map I have linked to at the bottom of this post.
Walking Routes From Petts Wood
There are good walking routes from Petts Woods on the London Loop and the Green Chain Route to turn your Petts Wood visit into a full scale south London hike.
The following south London walking routes from Petts Wood are all between 5 and 10 miles long and cover a range of both woodland and riverside meadow plus some attractive historical buildings.
And there are pub stops on each route.
London Loop: Petts Wood To Bexley By The River Cray
Come out of the north of Petts Wood on the London Loop into Park Wood & the Scadbury Park Nature Reserve where you will pass the Scadbury Manor archeological dig before looping around Sidcup Place – with an attractive pub – to join the River Cray by which the path continues through the Foots Cray Meadow Nature Reserve to Bexley Station.
London Loop : Petts Wood To Joydens Wood
Follow the London Loop as in the above route to Bexley but cross the Five Arches Bridge over the River Cray and head up through St James Church yard onto Parsonage Lane to enter the southern end of Joydens Wood.
Green Chain Walk : Petts Wood To Beckenham Place:
Come out of the Hawkwood Estate by Hawkwood House to join section 9b of the Green Chain walk just beyond Chiselhurst Commons for a 6 and half mile walk to Beckhenham Place a Georgian mansion set in 90 hectares of parkland with a lake.
Green Chain Walk: Petts Wood To Eltham Palace
Join section 9b of the Green Chain walk at Chiselhurst Commons as above but at Elmstead Wood turn north to Mottingham and at Eltham College join section 6 of the Green Chain for the short walk to the fabulous Eltham Palace.
Cycling In Petts Wood
Petts Wood is a great spot for an off road cycle ride in south London for pre-teens. You have stick to the bridle paths rather than the narrower foot paths but you can still get in a good couple of miles cycling which combined with tree climbing and pit stops for picnics makes a great afternoon out.
Horse Riding In Petts Wood
You are also allowed to ride horses on the bridleways in Petts Wood and on the Hawkwood estate.
Visiting Chiselhurst Caves
Chiselhurst Caves is an amazing network of old caves and tunnels you can explore on rather spooky guided tour. It’s too scary for young children but a good addition to a day out at Petts Wood with older kids.
After exploring Petts Wood:
- Follow the southern path around to Kyd Brook
- Walk by the brook until it comes out onto Goshill Road.
- Carry along Goshill Road until you reach the A222.
- Cross A222 by footbridge.
- Turn onto Station Approach and walk past the station.
- Turn right onto Old Hill and then Caveside Close just after the Bickley Arms.
Parking For Petts Wood & Hawkwood
There is no dedicated car park for Petts Wood and the Hawkwood Estate but there are a number of nearby car parks :
- St Pauls Wood Car Park is 5 or so minutes away on the north east side of the wood. It’s a good choice if you also want to explore Scadbury Park Nature Reserve and the Scadbury Manor archeological site.
- Willets Recreation Ground is 5 minutes walk from the south entrance.
- Chiselhurst Station is a 15 minute walk into Petts Wood itself but most of the walk is through the Hawkwood Estate by the Kyd Brook
Petts Wood & Hawkwood By Train
The National Trust’s Petts Wood and Hawkwood Estate are easy to visit by train via:
- Petts Wood Station: 4 trains an hour from London Bridge and 2 from each of Victoria, Charing Cross & St Pancras.
- Chiselhurst Station: 4 trains an hour from London Bridge and 2 from Lewisham, Cannon St & Charing Cross.
If you don’t want to do a circular walk and you’re coming via London Bridge or Charing Cross you could come via one and leave via the other.
Petts Wood Station to Petts Wood Walk
It’s a 10 minute or so walk from Petts Wood Station to the wood itself:
- From the platform turn right on the footbridge to come out the main exit of the station.
- In Station Square keep left of the Daylight Inn.
- As the square joins the main road turn left.
- Cross over the roundabout.
- Take second right down Towncourt Crescent.
- At the bottom cross Hazelmere Road and follow the signed footpath into the wood.
Chiselhurst Station To Petts Woods Walk
It’s a slightly longer walk into the wood proper from Chiselhurst station but you very quickly join a path by the Kyd brook the little stream that starts in the wood so it’s quite an enjoyable walk.
- At Chiselhurst Station turn right onto Station Approach.
- Cross A222 by footbridge.
- Turn down Goshill Road a little lane.
- When it ends in a barrier join the path on the left.
- Follow the Kyd Brook until the path turns right.
- Continue on path next to railway line until it enters the wood.
Facilities At Petts Wood & Hawkwood
There are no toilet or cafe facilities at Petts Wood & Hawkswood itself. So you do need to make use of facilities in Petts Wood or Chiselhurst.
Petts Wood & Hawkwood Map
The National Trust have a Hawkwood Estate Map showing footpaths and bridle paths. It also highlights heathland areas which make good picnicking spots. There are map boxes at the main entrances to the wood but these are often empty so it’s worth printing out or having on your phone in advance.
And there you go, absolutely everything you need for a great family day out in Petts Wood and the Hawkwood Estate and for including Petts Wood in London Loop and Green Chain walks.
I do hope you enjoy visiting Petts Wood. For more woodland adventures right here in London check out these posts :
And for even more inspiration check out all these guides to fun things to do in London.