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 6 - Crystal Palace to Balham - 9th September 2021

Although this section goes between two of the same places as the Capital Ring apart from a short section in Norwood Grove it follows a totally different route. From my experiences today in this case the Capital Ring way is probably greener, there were far too many busy roads on Bob Gilbert's version.

After an uneventful trip up to London and then down to Crystal Palace I met my first problems straight outside Crystal Palace station where workmen were erecting barriers right on the road I was walking down. I had omitted to notice that the Crystal Palace Wireless Festival was taking place this weekend and most of the park is closed to the public for the occasion with huge green fences blocking access. So what would be a pleasant start to the section with a stroll through the palace terraces was not to be, I had to work my way round using my map on the busy, more congested than normal due to the closures, roads to somewhere I recognised as being on my route. Even the people I asked were confused by what was going on. I eventually got to Crystal Palace bus station and could pick up the route from there. GLW goes through a small stretch of woodland alongside Crystal Palace Parade, away from the bustle for a short time. I then found that the exits the other side were blocked as they were repairing (or not) the damaged wall. I managed to sneak past a barrier to join the road.

Now followed some suburban roads. The guidebook suggested I made a short diversion to see the home of social reformer Annie Besant but apart from the blue plaque it was not much else. Then a short stretch of park, Long Meadow before more suburban roads.

A short stretch of roads then into Norwood Park on Gipsy Hill which became a public park in 1911. The viewpoint at the top has a quite spectacular view of central London and is a protected viewpoint. I got slightly lost with the navigation here and initially came out at the wrong exit but on going back inside managed to head to the right one.

Now follows quite a stretch of busy roads before eventually reaching Norwood Grove with its mansion. I didn't quite follow the recommended route so missed going close to the mansion and its formal gardens which I remember well from when I did the Capital Ring through here. But quite nice woodland for a while.

Then into Streatham Common and a short diversion into the Rookery. This is a pleasant area of formal gardens and is one of London's hidden secrets similar to the Pergoda in Hampstead I saw earlier. Quite a pleasant little spot and totally free to enter.

A couple of well hidden paths, Hill Path and Russell's Path lead between the houses to reach the bustle of Streatham High Road by the station.

More busy roads then Tooting Bec Common is reached. Green London Way takes me through the more wooded part of the common rather than the parkland sections the other side of the railway which the Capital Ring chooses. Both quite pleasant. Then Balham, the end of this leg, which is certainly a busy place and not that scenic. Lunch in the Bedford before making my way home via Clapham Junction after a pleasant but maybe not so countrified walk.