Dave Sergeant

The Green London Way is a walking route of 110 miles length around London split into 18 sections. It follows much of the route of the 78 mile long Capital Ring but has some new sections. The Green London Way is largely the work of one man, Bob Gilbert, who is a supporter for the protection of urban open spaces and public access. His book, The Green London Way, outlines each section with detailed description of the historic and wildlife aspects of each section and is being used as I walk the route.

Green London Way Walk 4 - Greenwich to Forest Hill

This is an 8 mile walk. Because I combined it with the remainder of section 3 I decided to break it at Lewisham (the book suggested Ladywell but Lewisham worked out better). This walk is almost entirely on new ground for me and does not follow any of the other London walks at any point.

Greenwich to Lewisham - 11th August 2021

So leaving the Cutty Sark where I had completed section 3 I went through Greenwich town centre and into Greenwich Park. From the top of the hill where the observatory is there are superb views of London. The area in front of the Naval College was used for the equestrian events for the 2012 Olympics and there was much concern that it would destroy a lot of the park but it seems it has now been well restored. The observatory area seemed very popular with plenty of people around. I did visit the museum many years ago, maybe a repeat visit will be in order one day.

So after a pleasant walk through the park I left via a gate at the other side into what is Blackheath. I was a bit surprised how rural it was and was hardly expecting that long flight of steps - 'descending the steps' in the book downplays it somewhat. After a small stretch of suburban streets it was back to these wooded little lanes and I soon reached The Point. This area has a strange history with many caverns below the hill and rumours of a Victorian drinking den within them. Access has long been closed off and nobody seems to know exactly where it was even if the rumours are true. However I took advantage of the tip to climb the steps the book mentioned in passing - another long flight of steps - and was rewarded with a superb view of the capital from the lookout at the top, where there is quite an extensive area of parkland missed by the Green London Way.

After Point Hill the description in the book looks pretty uninteresting, complicated instructions through various suburban streets. But what a surprise, some of it is more lovely paths with steps and those streets are something quite out of this world, hardly what you would expect in suburban London.

After here the walk now meets heavy traffic on the A2 which had to be crossed where there are no pedestrian crossings. Then a walk along the road for a while before reaching another footpath and peace again. After a while Lewisham Road is reached and crossed. Here the only pub mentioned in the guide is no longer a pub and has been converted into flats for the local homeless - the Sydney Arms Apartments according to the sign. Then after another short bit of quiet road Silk Mills Passage is walked down. This is named after the many silk mills in the area in the middle ages. This took me to Elverson Road DLR station (another potential break point).

Here the Ravensbourne appears which will be followed in the next part of this walk. At this point it runs through deep concrete channels, an attempt to reduce flooding problems in the past, and seems not that much of a river. I walked along it for a couple of hundred metres before turning off down a short passage under the railway line. But now I was on the main road past Lewisham station so time to break for the day. Train to London Bridge where I had another nice lunch then a walk back to Waterloo along the south bank and the train back home. A really enjoyable day

Lewisham to Forest Hill - 17th August 2021

This walk is a mixture of hills and cemeteries. It got off to a bad start with the train coming to a halt near Egham due to signalling problems - or maybe, it seems even the driver had no idea what was going on. But after a long wait we set off again and I arrived at Waterloo 20 minutes late. Then a short hop on a train from Waterloo East to Lewisham where I had stopped the week before.

So out of Lewisham station into the bustle of the busy town centre. But following a path I was immediately in countryside again alongside the Ravensbourne. A short stretch of suburban streets then led to Hilly Fields, saved from housing development by Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust. Here is a stone circle, set up in the millenium as London's answer to Stone Henge. First climb of the day and good views of London from the top.

Now the first cemetery of the day, the Ladywell and Brockley. Originally two seperate cemeteries which merged later with a small area of woodland dividing them. A mixture of old and new gravestones together with a church and war memorials within the grounds. Quite an extensive area.

A lengthy stretch of Ladywell Road took me to Ladywell station, another suggested break point, to rejoin the Ravensbourne in Ladywell Fields. A choice of paths either side of the river. The man here was clearing loads of mud from the riverbed with his spade, commented that this work all relied on volunteers. The path then crosses the railway line again via a large many stage footbridge. At the top is a view of this magnificent running track, part of Ladywell Arena.

Another short stretch of the Ravensbourne through Ladywell Fields before leaving it after this railway bridge and leaving the fields a short way later.

Then after some street walking I reached Blythe Hill Fields, more climbing but a magnificent view from the top. I took the wrong path here and exited at the wrong place. Momentarily confused but soon corrected with my map. More street walking to reach Honor Oak Park station in the outskirts of Camberwell then a little further on into One Tree Hill. A steep climb here indeed.

Near the bottom of the hill is a church which serves the nearby Camberwell New Cemetery. Then after steep climbs of steps at the summit is the Honor Oak which gives the hill its name. The original oak was very old but has later been replaced with a different one though I did not see it. An equally steep climb down followed to reach the pleasant Brenchley Gardens at the bottom.

Then into the second cemetery of the day, Camberwell Old Cemetery, again a mixture of old and new gravestones, well maintained and extensive. Out of the cemetery and after a couple of roads into Horniman Gardens with the Horniman Museum. I was not aware of this museum but it is comparable to the Natural History Museum with a different focus. It was opened in 1890 being gifted by Frederick Horniman as a free gift to the people for ever - and is still free to visit, but would probably require a full day to do it justice.

Leaving the museum grounds the busy London Road (South Circular) took me towards Forest Hill station. But first lunch in a Wetherspoons, this one occupying an old cinema. A much smoother journey home via London Bridge and Waterloo East arriving home around 4.30. A longer walk than I was expecting but very pleasant.