Introducing ... the Brockley Green Chain

London’s network of urban footpaths has become well-known in recent years. In particular, the Capital Ring is regarded as the jewel in the city’s crown, and it encompasses a swathe of south-east London, known as the Green Chain walks.

Now don’t get BC wrong, there are some great routes on the Green Chain. We recommend them to anybody who enjoys walking. But it has to be said that on the whole it’s not really very Brockley. The Green Chain steps into Brockley briefly, right at the end of its route, where it nips up through One Tree Hill to Nunhead Cemetery. But Brockley has many more green spaces which are equally worthy of attention.

And so the idea of a Brockley Green Chain came into being.

BC has dreamt up a walk route which steps straight from Brockley Station – surely the area’s beating heart – through perhaps our best-loved park, Hilly Fields, and on to some of the area’s many other local gems. After crossing over the tracks into Brockley's often-neglected westside, the route brings you back to your starting point again. A classic weekend loop, in other words.

So many people head off to remote and esoteric corners of the capital to spend some of their spare time walking amid congenial surroundings, but how many of those people realise that they could get just as good a walk from their doorstep?

The Brockley Green Chain is ideal for a bit of springtime exercise, and there are plenty of potential stop-offs en route, turning the (approximately) 9-mile path into a full day’s outing.

In short, it runs from Hilly Fields via Ladywell Cemetery to Ladywell Fields, then down to Blythe Hill Fields, across to One Tree Hill, dipping into Brenchley Gardens, then up through Nunhead Cemetery to Telegraph Hill Park and back into central Brockley for a celebratory pint to finish off. Here's our tailor-made map, complete with points of interest and suggestions for refreshments en route:


View Brockley Green Chain walk in a larger map

So, why not give it a try? Make sure to let us know how you get along. Brockley Kate has walked the route from start to finish, and will be covering its delights in a series of blogposts, starting later today.


A few notes, before we begin …

Most of the pubs, cafes and restaurants mentioned in the guide are the author’s subjective recommendation. A couple are slightly off-route; this reflects the author’s personal view of their relative value, in terms of making a detour. We couldn’t possibly mention every venue within a stone’s throw of each part of this walk, even if we wanted to, for practical reasons. So we apologise to any venues omitted, and rely on readers to modify the walk as necessary to incorporate any particular favourites of their own. There’s loads of good stuff out there. If you find somewhere which BC hasn’t already written about on the blog, do tell us and we will rectify.

Incidentally, the quality of Wikipedia entries on these diverse parts of Brockley (and surrounds) is variable at best. Get to work, local residents. Your digital community needs you.

This is an 8-9-10 mile route (distance variable, depending on how much wandering you do in each green space on the route). It can be done as a day walk, split into two, or completed in sections. Really, how long is a piece of string? Make of it what you will, dip in and out as suits. It is intended as inspiration rather than gospel. We do think it is worth doing as a whole if possible, though, simply for the degree of coherence and sense of place which it gives. Feedback is, as ever, welcomed.

The opinions expressed in this series of articles represent the views of Brockley Kate only – so don’t blame Brockley Nick (or Jon) if you don’t like them. Especially if you live near Brockley Hill Park (see part 3).

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Time Out has added a walk from Crystal Palace to Forest Hill to its free walking guides, which links together various green chain walks. It passes through Sydenham Hill and Dulwich Wood: http://www.walkingclub.org.uk/book_3/walk_137/index.shtml

Brockley Ben said...

That's excellent. Thanks Nick/Kate for putting the map together. I've done some a loop around Hilly Fields and Ladywell a couple of times but hadn't considered extending to One Tree Hill or Nunhead. Nice one.

One thing, though: you have Babur in the wrong place. I think the place-marker you have is for the takeaway kitchen.

(And I'd go to the Orchard over the Barge. But that's just me.)

Brockley Nick said...

@BB - Kate's work, not mine!

mb said...

Kate is a well known Barge fan. Good, honest etc....

BrockleyKate said...

I am indeed. I can even be found knitting in there, sometimes. I've never glassed anyone, though.

Ben - cheers, will rectify on map. I got the wrong junction, that's all; the takeaway is further up on the other side.

nburdy said...

well done guys, good work. me / @mrsburdy have done (almost) this a couple times and its lovely.
as always, good work BC.

BrockleyBiker said...

I'm really looking forward to doing this walk. Makes you realise just how many green spaces we have around us.

Great work Kate :)

Tamsin said...

Um, didn't signal the victory at Waterloo - that was a chap galloping up Whitehall with the captured eagles sticking out of the post-chaise window. But definitely Admiralty semaphore station on the route to Deal.

but, Kate, what about avoiding the traffic laden Drakefell by going down Vesta Road from the Telegraph Hill Parks and then looking into the Nature Reserve (if it happens to be open) before coming back along Endwell Street, picking up a doughnut at the Quick Stop Shop as you pass.

Obligatory reference - when relevant - to Telegraph Hill Festival events at this time of year. History/Architecture Walk at 2pm on Sunday 18th March - down Vesta, and then striking east and through Goldsmiths to the main road. Also a "Wildlife Wander" at 10.30 on Friday 23rd with Chris McGraw - of the bird watching forays in Hilly Fields.

Brockley Kate said...

Take it up with Wikipedia, Tamsin!

Brockley Ben said...

To add to Tamsin's suggestion, I'd suggest Arbuthnot and Sandbourne Road before trying the gates at the Nature Reserve, if only to get the view of Canary Wharf when you cross Jerningham. But either way the one-way stretch of Endwell Road is indeed a quieter bet than Drakefell.

Tamsin said...

Good thoughts. Down through the lower park where you might see the often resident heron (it has been a delight watching over the years as he grew up and developed adolescent then adult plumage) and can love or hate the Equiano Plinth. Walk along Arbuthnot and admire on the north side the railings that actually survived the Second World War - basically the excavated areas they protected would have been too dangerous to leave unfenced in the blackout. Call in on the Community Garden in Sandbourne Road (if it is open) where there's a Kent-Surrey boundary marker from before the LCC and, as Ben says, then hit Vesta and the Nature Reserve.

Bea said...

Great idea! I'm going to give it a try this weekend, weather permitting.

Kate, when you've completed it could you let us know approximately how long the walk takes (excl pub stops, of course.)

Sue said...

There is also a Ladywell Walks leaflet available now, compiled by members of The Ladywell Society, FoBLC, LVIG and LFUG, (and funded by a grant from the Ladywell Ward Assembly). It's available at Oscar's cafe.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that the path turns off Brockley Road just before Top Chef?

Lady in the Well said...

Thanks Kate.

I saw a heron on my neighbours roof last week, I thought it was plastic at first!

Anyone else think there are more parakeets around than usual? I'm used to seeing them in Ladywell fields but have had a couple in the garden recently.

TJ said...

The parakeets are numerous through the conservation area. IN spring they eat the blossom on the cherry trees.

I often see the Heron flying over my place in Tressillian - wondered where he was going - now I know

Brockley Ben said...

The heron - or at least a heron – was very much in evidence in the Telegraph Hill meadow yesterday.

Tamsin said...

Secateurs on wings, are parakeets. Would not be so bad if they eat what they just slice it off but it's left scattered over the paths.

They are apparently now officially vermin - so parakeet pie anyone?

BrockleyKate said...

Bea - It's a bit 'how long is a piece of string?' really, as it depends how much walking you do in each green space, how quick your pace is, how many pauses you have, etc etc.
But if you base it on the average walking pace (3 miles/hr), and look at the route distance (just over 8 miles), you could do it in 3 hours, if you weren't stopping or meandering.

It took me more like 5 hours when I did the full route on Friday, but that's because I had to hone the route (so there was some backtracking and walking in circles), and I was making notes and photographing stuff as I went as well. So my time taken is no guide at all, really.

Tressilliana said...

The heron (or one of its relations) makes frequent visits to our pond in the early mornings looking for frogs and fish. Fascinating but gruesome to watch.

Bea said...

Kate - thanks for that. Will see if I can do it in 4 hours. But if it gets too much can always hop on public transport home (unlike deepest countryside!)

Sally said...

Looks like a nice running route too. I've been running more locally recently instead of heading automatically down to Greenwich or Peckham Rye. Will try it this week!

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