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Walk: Green Spaces & Biodiversity

A circular walk through the many green and open spaces around Forest Hill, SE23 - explore parks, fields and woods and experience the nature on our doorsteps

Click the button for the full route on GoJauntly or read more details below

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A circular walk, starting and ending at Forest Hill Station, that offers a real challenge for more committed walkers, but also shows off the many green spaces and different natural landscapes that are available in the area.

Many of these are only there because they were preserved for us by previous generations of residents, so we want to celebrate them together.

Note: because we want to make this a route anyone can follow at their leisure in future, it does not feature the  wonderful Nature Reserves in the area (that will be pointed out on the walk), but focuses on public parks, green spaces and woods.

Distance: 11 miles

Difficulty: medium (some steeper sections and some walking on uneven ground)

Time (length): 3 -4 hours

Route: open on GoJauntly

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Walk details and information

1. This circular walk starts at Forest Hill station, originally opened as Dartmouth Arms station in 1839.

The green spaces and plantings at the station are maintained by the Forest Hill Society, with support from Energy Garden and London Borough of Lewisham, and regularly earn London In Bloom awards for bringing some colour and nature to the very centre of Forest Hill. 

2. Horniman Triangle

An open space with a playground and mature wooded section. Previously a smallholding in the war, it was leased as a children’s play area in 1953/54, it is now run by Lewisham Council.

3. Horniman Gardens

These are well known and well loved gardens that form a key part of the Horniman Museum & Gardens originally donated by Frederick Horniman in 1901 (but open to the public since 1895). These are always changing and about to experience a further major investment

4. Camberwell Old Cemetery

A mid-19th century cemetery with a few important graves, including that of Frederick Horniman, but with some fine views over towards the City of London.

5. Brenchley Gardens

A small, linear park with a number of classically laid out flower beds and views over London. It runs along the road built to navigate around One Tree Hill, and along parts of an old railway line

6. One Tree Hill

A hill with a great deal of history and some amazing views from the top. Originally part of the Great North Wood, it has been used for grazing, for leisure, for defence (from Napoleonic signals, to anti-Zeppelin guns in WW1) and was rescued as an open public space during the times of ‘enclosure’ in the late 19th century through public protests and resistance. The ‘honor oak’ refers to a series of Oak trees that grew here on the top of the hill, first marking a boundary of the Honour of Gloucester lands, then visited by Queen Elizabeth I and more recently (1905) replanted to replace and mark it.

7. Camberwell New Cemetery / Playing fields

Land bought to expand the cemetery at Camberwell because of demand in the 20th century, this covers a wide area, but also has an extensive allotment area, playground and playing fields.

8. Kings College Sportsground (not walking through)

We can’t visit as it is private but we walk past grounds that were the ‘home’ of Guy’s Hospital Football Club, one of the very oldest rugby clubs in the world. Guys merged with St Thomas’ so the name has changed and the facilities modernised.

9. Blythe Hill Fields

A beautiful open space with magnificent views over the City of London and Docklands. It was originally a farm and brickworks, but the steepness prevented too much development. It was opened as a public park in 1935, and in 2024 was planted with a Miyawaki ‘tiny’ Forest.

10. Ravensbourne Park Gardens

Small park that was once a centrepiece of a real-estate development in the area, but made a public space in the 1960s

11. Pool River Linear Park

A great walk along two rivers - the river Pool and river Ravensbourne. This is part of the “Waterlink Way” connecting Catford with the Thames.

 

It runs along the railway as well as the river, and has a range of wildlife and different trees. A great place for running, walking and cycling. There is also a playground and access to the Bell Green retail park

12. Mayow Park

One of the oldest open public spaces in this part of London, Mayow Park was opened in 1878 after a donation from a wealthy local resident, Mayow Wynell Adams, and support through many donations. It was laid out as recreational grounds, to include the sporting facilities as well as the fields and park. There’s a recently upgraded playground as well as a croquet club and cricket field, and some great specimens of trees.

12. Mayow Park

One of the oldest open public spaces in this part of London, Mayow Park was opened in 1878 after a donation from a wealthy local resident, Mayow Wynell Adams, and support through many donations. It was laid out as recreational grounds, to include the sporting facilities as well as the fields and park. There’s a recently upgraded playground as well as a croquet club and cricket field, and some great specimens of trees.

13. Kirkdale Green
14. MacColl Gardens
15. Baird Gardens
16. Sydenham Wells Park

Sydenham was once famous for its springs and was a spa destination (and copied by Dulwich who aspired to its fame!). A campaign was established to keep some of the land in the area open for public space as housing development was also being driven by the arrival of the Crystal Palace. It has a more formal layout with trees, flower beds and water features, but also tennis courts and a play area.

17. Sydenham Hill Wood

A local jewel for any nature lover, the Sydenham Hill Woods and the next door Dulwich Woods offer a great space for wandering and for biodiversity. This walk only explores a small part of the wood above the old railway line, but is worth a walk on its own.

18. Baxter’s Field

A small space preserved for local residents and named after a famous local resident George Baxter (see the Victorian Connections walk for more information). It is regularly host to residents’ picnics and parties and a small hidden pocket for wildlife.

19. Albion Millennium Green

Once a part of the Great North Wood but also on the path of the canal that ran through Forest Hill and Honor Oak in the 19th century. Again this area was saved by local residents and campaigners who stopped further development along the railway. It won a grant in 2000 to help give it more paths and open spaces, and is now maintained by a group of friends. It is a ‘wild space’ that is very convenient for walkers and families as it is only a short walk from the shops and facilities like the pool and library.

20. It is a short walk back to Forest Hill station to complete the walk.
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