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!