Greenspaces: Ladywell Fields

Less a park than a self-contained Green Chain walk, Ladywell Fields is a collection of green spaces - dissected by rivers and railway lines and linked by the route of the Ravensbourne River - with each part offering a different experience.

Ladywell Fields has been transformed by a regenerative process that began in 2006 with a project called QUERCUS which had the aim of making better use of the river to improve the park and design-out crime and anti-social behaviour. A second project funded by the London Development Agency was completed earlier this year and the result of these combined works is a triumph, creating some genuinely lovely, watery moments in the heart of Lewisham. Ladywell Fields encourages people to sit and enjoy the water or to take off your shoes and start paddling.

The entrance nearest Ladywell Station presents a large grassy expanse, framed on one side by Lewisham Hospital and on the other by tall trees masking the railway line. In the middle runs a small (man made) stream with pebbly banks on one side, perfect for toddlers to play in. We were wondering how we could capture the Seurat-like scene without photographing a load of toddlers, when this dog came and obliged.
Nearby, there's a little tea hut, which may or may not serve good food, but we gave up queueing after ten minutes of making very little progress.

Further south and over the railway track is a spot forded with large stones and overhung with logs. We don't know how much of it is designed or natural, but everytime we've passed it has looked like something out of Tom Sawyer, with kids wading, splashing and climbing, albeit in a river rather narrower than the Mississippi.

The land is pretty flat, which means that it lacks the spectacular views offered by nearby Blythe Hill and Hilly Fields, but has plenty of space for other stuff, including tennis courts, two children's playgrounds, a collection of skate ramps, an adventure playground for 8-16 year olds, a camogie pitch (a sport which jostles with dodgeball in terms of local participation levels) and of course an athletics centre - the Ladywell Arena. There's also a dry river bed, with water pumps if you want to have a go at filling it up yourself.

Ladywell Fields offers something completely different to other local parks and an experience that changes with every bridge you cross or corner you turn.

Water-way to have a good time. Cheers!


Park Keeper said...

Dogs must be kept on leads!

Brockley Dogging Society said...

No they mustn't. The 'safety word' system should always come first (unless you're lucky, then you do).

Running Nutter said...

Ladywell fields is fantastic, and it continues the other side of wicks car park , in a different form for a mile or so.

Happy finder said...

Yes, it's really nice! Can't believe I didn't know it was there or that it went that far...really good for kids with the space and various play areas...

patrick1971 said...

Water-way to have a good time, indeed. I've walked through there on my own, though, and have read a book there; that's just plain weird.

barryls said...

There are some nice ideas and our dog and his little friends love playing in the river.

But after 18 months waiting for this project to be finished, I still think the changes to the park are too gimmicky and will not be robust enough to stand the test of time.

The grass has not been resown throughout, so we have large sections of weeds (unless that was part of the design?). The childrens play area already looks a mess after 3 months. The new park benches are royally naff too.

Personally I would have preferred a more subtle approach, and a more classic London park feel like at Mountsfield or Blythe Hill.

I guess sometimes, you just can't see the wood for the trees.

Mondee said...

I really like the benches. I'm surprised you think it's gimmicky, barryls. I think it has been really cleverly planned and there is clearly a long-term strategy for the river itself, which is looking very attractive already but will look even better in a few years' time. That the playground shows signs of being well used is a good thing, I would have thought. That whistling thing must really annoy residents of the nearby flats though.

Anonymous said...

The completed Ladywell Fields is truly a joy in SE London. I have walked through it with people who have lived in/around the area and never knew it was there. They can't believe how lovely, varied and engaging it is. Or that it extended over the swirly green bridge.
Main draw-back is the way people pollute the river with cans/bottles etc... The wildlife will increase in numbers and bring even more joy, but only if it is treated well. I have spotted a woodpecker, heron, stag beetle and lots of birds & butterflies on my walks there.

TC said...

Thanks Running Nutter for the WIckes car park tip. Went for a run yesterday down to Sydenham; it's opened up a whole world.

Anonymous said...

i discovered this parkonly a few weeks ago & cant beleive how lovely it is. just a shame we dont have such a lovely place like that in our borough..... but they say steal from the rich to give to the poor.
glad i can take my children and show them where my taxes have gone to.

Westsider said...

Are you sure you should have had children?

Anonymous said...

whats that supposed to mean ? all im saying is in my borough we dont have these kind of things

Brockley Nick said...

Well I suppose it means that you suggested our "poor" borough had stolen from your "rich" borough and seemed to begrudge the people of Lewisham a nice park - which you attributed to money, rather than considering that perhaps Lewisham had some natural assets like the river that are nothing to do with Council budgets.

I can't imagine going to another part of London and moaning that my taxes had been spent on someone else's park. Or thinking that I was the only tax payer in London.

It's not "our" park anyway. It's just where the park happens to be - and you are welcome to come and visit any time you like. Though as our guest, you might like to be a bit more courteous next time you come.

Just guessing that's what Westsider was getting at?

spincat said...

I really like it - I was worried about the gimmicky nature of some of the design when I saw it on paper - I use the park at least once a week, mostly walking to shops and liked its rather ramshackle nature, its peace and the fact that it was not in any way 'designed'.
When I saw it in real life I was amazed and delighted by what had been done : the removal of the concrete chanelling around the river was a huge project that has produced a really beautiful natural riverbed - grass and scrub will grow back (as it has done, slowly, in the upper part of the park, redeveloped a few years ago) and some of the hard structures will weather in.

Anonymous said...

I visited the 'new' side of Ladywell Fields yesterday and enjoyed exploring somewhere I'd not taken the children to before.
One thing I was slightly surprised by was having to register my children (aged 6 and 2) in order to access the adventure playground bit. It wasn't a problem in itself but was rather odd given that I wasn't dropping them off to be supervised by someone else. We were also told that under 5's are only allowed in when it's not busy. Again, completely understandable but something that could perhaps be publicised somewhere so parents can warn their small children in advance!

Scorpion said...

I love spending at least 20 minutes or so of my lunch-hour in Ladywell Fields. I usually work a 12 hour shift in Lewisham hospital and some fresh air and nice views/distraction goes down well with me. I like seeing the local wildlife (lovely heron & the ducks etc) and also passing the time of day with other people [passing through). It's a gorgeous place :)


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