Dave Sergeant

This circular and linear walk around Nunhead and Camberwell from Inner London Ramblers explores Nunhead and New Camberwell cemeteries, One Tree Hill, Ladywell, the Ravensbourne and Peckham Rye. It covers a lot of familiar ground but as is usual with these walks some new.

Nunhead to Camberwell - 17th March 2023

Getting to Nunhead needed a couple of changes at Clapham Junction then Forest Hill. The train which should have taken me to Nunhead was then delayed and I caught the next one which arrived first and got to Nunhead around 10.45. Then a shortish walk along the roads to reach Nunhead Cemetery. The cemetery is one of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries in London and was established in the mid nineteenth century. Becoming hopelessly overcrowded it closed for some years in 1969 and became abandoned. Recently though it has been revived and burials are now taking place again.

Much of the cemetery is wooded and quite pleasant although a bit muddy in places. The Anglican Chapel dominates in the centre but sadly now roofless and the gates locked so couldn't explore inside.

There are a lot of magnificant gravestones around the cemetery. Then a group of stones dedicated to nine Boy Scouts drowned in an accident on the Thames in 1912.

The newer part of the cemetery. Then some of the most magnificant graves including that to John Allen, the most expensive in the cemetery based on the Payava Tomb at Xanthos.

Further on at the top of the hill extensive views of London and St Paul's Cathedral. The obelisk to the Scottish Martyrs commemorates five Scotsmen who were transported to Australia in 1793 for daring to ask for parliamentary reform.

Out of the cemetery and then a lengthy stretch to the next point of interest. Much of this goes along Brockley Footpath, a narrow and steep footpath running between the cemetery and a reservoir. This eventually becomes road for a while.

Camberwell New Cemetery is reached, rather different to Nunhead although quite pleasant. Past the Mortuary Chapel and out of the cemetery into Brenchley Gardens.

At this point it was raining quite steadily and with time pressing on I decided to end my day's walk here so caught the bus back to Nunhead. Back at Clapham Junction I lunched in the adjacent Wetherspoons before continuing home after a somewhat shorter day than I had planned.

Ladywell to Nunhead - 7th April 2023

Having abandoned my previous walk at approximately the half way stage it seemed sensible to combine the return leg to Nunhead with the linear section from Ladywell which divided at One Tree Hill. This resulted in doing the first part, from Ladywell, in the opposite direction from the Inner London Ramblers guide but in the event worked out well. So on a bright sunny morning with the forecast to stay dry I set out.

So I arrived at Ladywell station at around 10.45am after a good journey via Waterloo East. This section follows the same route I had used on section 4 of the Green London Way but it was useful to do it with a separate guide which highlighted different aspects. Ladywell is named after the former Lady well with a commemorative plaque near to its original location. The Ravensbourne river is joined and most of the open area around it is called Ladywell Fields. It was very pleasant this sunny morning.

The Ravensbourne twickles past as I walk along.

Now the path is obstructed by tree fellers. I should have followed the others and gone round the other side of the tennis courts on a somewhat muddy path but I smiled and the men allowed me to duck under their tape. The river became somewhat wider further down.

A dry river channel alongside the river and an information board about it. Then another bridge across the Ravensbourne as I come towards the end of the riverside path.

Turning away from the river and a few short streets I pass through Ravensbourne Park Gardens then climb up Blythe Hill Fields with another good view of Canary Wharf from the top.

A somewhat longer stretch of road walking past Honor Oak station to reach One Tree Hill with St Augustine's Church at the bottom. A steep climb to the top with its admiralty beacon and anti-Zeppelin gun placement remains. Then the Oak of Honor which Queen Elizabeth I is rumoured to have visited in 1602.

Another good view of Central London from the summit. Then a more gentler climb down through woodland.

Into Brenchley Gardens, a pleasant area between the road and the route of the former Crystal Palace Railway, as seen on the right.

Out of the gardens and a lengthy walk along the busy Forest Hill Road. The entrance to Camberwell Old Cemetry is passed and then the large Baptist Church.

Peckham Rye Park is reached which I last visited while walking the hidden River Peck after which it is named. There is plenty of activity today with various events for the young children. The large lake dominates.

The Peck appears above ground while it passes through the Park. The Saxby garden and the nearby Japanese garden are popular with visitors but still too early for them to be in full bloom.

The Peck has a last appearance before it disappears below ground again. Then across the large Peckham Rye Common. At the far end by the road is a carving in the shape of a totem pole created in 2014 from an old plane tree. I got slightly disorientated here and had to work out my route forward on different streets to the guide but eventually reached Nunhead station and the end of the walk.

From Nunhead I caught the train back to Victoria and lunched in the Wetherspoons there. My original plan to travel from there to Clapham Junction didn't happen as there were no Southern trains at Victoria for the Easter weekend because of engineering work so I made my way back to Waterloo on the tube then home after a very enjoyable day's walk.

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