Chislehurst Caves and The Bickley:
I have to admit to not visiting Chislehurst since I was quite a small girl when we were taken on a school trip to see the Chislehurst Caves. I remember being disappointed at the time as I had anticipated seeing stalactites and stalagmites in the caves, and instead was faced with lots of brown tunnels.
I’m far more appreciative of the history of the caves these days; they are extensive, covering some 22 miles of tunnel, and are entirely man-made. The caves were dug and used as chalk and flint mines. The earliest mention of the mines is around 1250 and they are believed to have been last worked in the 1830s. Perhaps the most poignant use that the caves have had is as an air-raid shelter to some 15,000 people during World War II. The space is big enough to have contained a chapel and a hospital as well as living space. Nowadays, there are groups of fantasy gamers using the Caves to play Labyrinth.
The Bickley pub sits bang in between the train station and the caves, so is the ideal place for refreshments pre or post visit.
We visited on a Saturday lunch time and we immediately struck by how large a pub this is; it spanned several floors and has an extensive outside space complete with bar and play area. This made it very popular with families; happy children mean happy parents.
We sat inside at a table perfect for people watching and ordered drinks, a beer for Alex and a glass of unoaked Chilean Chardonnay for me.
The pub has opted for a sensible lunch time menu with 6 options for starters, 5 main dishes, and then steak, burgers, ribs or chicken from the grill. There are also 5 sandwiches to choose from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday there is the choice of traditional roast dishes.
We chose a classic prawn cocktail and Somerset Brie wedges to start. The brie was a very generous portion and the tomato jam well balanced.
We both opted for a steak from the grill, the sirloins were cooked rare as requested and my request for sweet potato fries rather than chips was met with ‘of course’. The grill gave a full flavour and a lovely colour to the steaks.
I was full but Alex had his eye on the sticky toffee pudding. It was declared delicious.
There were lots of families sitting down to eat as well as a birthday party going on upstairs, and it’s clearly a firm favourite with the locals. If you’re planning on visiting the caves why not try it out for yourself?
We were guests of The Bickley.
Chislehurst BR7 5NP