Dave Sergeant

The river Peck runs from Honor Oak through Peckham. which is named after it, to join Earl's Sluice in Rotherhithe where I was last week. It is the last of the 12 hidden rivers in David Fathers' book London's Hidden Rivers and I followed the route using that book again. I travelled via Clapham Junction but due to signalling issues near Sydenham it was after 11am by the time I arrived at Honor Oak Park station.

The source of the Peck is on One Tree Hill near Honor Oak but is not visible there. I had already visited that while walking Green London Way section 4 last year. Near the bottom is St Augustine's Church, built in 1872, a magnificant building. The steps to the summit are steep but I was awarded with an excellent view of Central London and elsewhere from the top.

At the summit is the plinth of a former gun turret used in WWI, sadly now heavily graffitied. A little lower is the famous Honor Oak tree after which the hill is named which I had missed seeing last time. It is rumoured that Queen Elizabeth I rested here in 1602. The tree now standing replaced the original and dates from 1905 when the park was opened to the public. There is also a beacon lit for the Coronation and presumably will be lit again for the Platinum Jubilee.

Down from One Tree Hill there is a short stretch of residential roads, passing the large Honor Oak Reservoir and brick built water store, until Peckham Rye Park is arrived at. Here is something unique from all the other hidden rivers I have walked - it suddenly emerges from its culvert and runs in the open for 500 yards through the park. It has over the years been landscaped to fit in with the park, and is quite narrow in places but follows the original route.

Peckham Rye Park is a very pleasant place with a large lake (not linked to the river) and a formal garden with pegola. I could have spent more time there.

North of the park is Peckham Rye Common. The river has returned underground here but it is still a pleasant area. The weeping willow is magnificant. Towards the northern end is all that remains of the former Peckham Lido, a blue structure that was once an aerator fountain. There are plans to restore it.

Out of the common more residential roads and Peckham village is passed through. I got off the route along here and ended up in the shopping area of Peckham which seemed quite busy with smallish shops. Back on track a short diversion brought me to Caroline Gardens with a grass courtyard and impressive chapel, former retirement homes for publicans. Then more streets brought me back to Ilderton Road and the junction with Earl's Sluice nearby and my route last week. Under the railway arches and up to Surrey Quays where I lunched again in the adjacent Wetherspoons. A pleasant day and an end to my pursuit of London's hidden rivers.

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