JUN 17,2013 - JUN 17,2013 (1 DAYS)
Orientation: There's no wonderful examples of architecture to get excited about. But there's a real sense of energy here. There's an interesting market on Electric Avenue, there's the Brixton Academy for live music, and the Ritzy cinema for film (closed most of the day), and always pubs and clubs worth going to. It is, mostly, a nature trek: visiting number of South London parks and a stretch of woodland. Road walking kept to a minimum.
Start: Brixton Underground Station.
End: Crystal Palace National Rail Station.
Distance: 15 km.
Main Attractions: Brixton, Blockwell Park, Ruskin Park (Denmark Hill), Dulwich (quarter and Park), Sydenham Hill, Dulwich Woodland, Sydenham Weels park and... Crystal Palace Park.
From Brixton Tube Station turn left. Cross Coldharbour Lane and walk forward. Turn left and visit the market in Electric Avenue. Continue along Effra Road to pass St Matthew’s Church on the right, and Tate Gardens and Windrush Square on the left. Continue along Effra Road until Brixton Water Lane is reached, with the Hootananny pub on the corner on your left:
Turn left here, and, 50 metres after passing Arlingford Road, enter Brockwell Park through a gate on the right. Take the forward path, keeping close to the backs of houses. Towards the top of the rise, fork right to go past a children’s playground and, at the junction after, turn left to keep close to the block of flats on the right. Go over the next cross-paths and, in 20 metres, turn left on a path between railings to cross a bridge, then pass a small lake on your right.
Continue forward past a second and third lake, ignoring side paths, eventually skirting a walled garden to your left. As the wall ends, swing around left to enter the magnificient gardens of Brockwell Walled Garden:
Return to the walled garden entrance. Continue in the same direction as before, walking uphill to more gardens. Ignore the first path on the left but, in another 25 metres, turn left on the cross-path to pass to the right of an ornamental clock, known as Little Ben:
Go forward, with metal benches on your left, to pass Brockwell Hall, built 1811-13 on your right at the top of the hill. Continue forward, ignoring side paths, along a gradually descending path towards a railway bridge and road junction visible in the distance. There is a good view of the Canary Wharf complex ahead and, as you descend on the path, more London landmarks come into view, including the London Eye, the British Telecom Tower and Battersea Power Station. Cross the road junction by the lights, go under the railway bridge, and turn left into Milkwood Road. The heavy railway wall on the left soon gives way to an open fence with Herne Hill Station behind. Continue up Milkwood Road, cross Shardcroft Avenue and, as the road curves right, turn right into Gubyon Avenue and, in another 30 metres, left into Fawnbrake Avenue:
Follow this pleasant tree-lined street for 500 metres, then cross Poplar Walk to continue along Ferndene Road, shortly crossing Herne Hill Road. The imposing building on the corner of Herne Hill Road is the Carnegie Library, built in 1904. Continue along Ferndene Road and, in 25 metres, turn left into Ruskin Park. Ruskin Park was named after John Ruskin, who lived nearby, and celebrated its centenary in 2007. Now, you are in Denmark Hill. Keep to the path by the right-hand fence, next to the road with a field on the left. Continue forward past another gate until railings surrounding gardens are reached. Pass through the lower of two gates, turn left and then turn right through a brick-built walkway. The sunken area on your left used to be a bowling green. At the end of the walkway, turn left down to steps and keep to the left of a pond. The large building ahead is part of King’s College Hospital. Now swing around right to walk up the other side of the pond and, at its end, turn left on a secluded path, coming out by a broad flight of steps. Turn right up these, passing the portico on your right, and continue, to leave the park by the gate further on to the left. Cross the busy Denmark Hill (only with zebra & crosslights !). Pass in front of the Fox on the Hill pub (on your right). At the far end of the carpark, turn right and climb along Champion Hill. Continue to the crossroads at the top of the rise, then turn right. Pass in and turn left down Arnould Avenue, then quickly turn right into Domett Close. At the far end of this cul-de-sac take the stepped path through the estate to emerge by a small pub. Go forward slightly downhill along the footpath (Green Dale), eventually passing playing fields on both sides. Green Dale changes into a road, note the coats of arms on the railway bridge, together with the initials “AC” (Alleyn’s College) and the year 1866. Continue for another 100 metres to reach East Dulwich Grove. Cross East Dulwich Grove at the lights to enter Townley Road, then turn right into Calton Avenue after 50 metres. After more playing fields on the left, comes the church of St Barnabas, built in 1996 to replace its Victorian predecessor destroyed by fire. The spire, unusually, is made of glass:
Continue forward to the main crossroads in Dulwich Village. Turn left along Dulwich Village Road. Shortly pass a splendid Victorian pub, the Crown and Greyhound:
Look up to see the decoration above the entrance:
Further along Dulwich Village Road, fine 18th century houses on the left contrast with the more modest and newer ones on the right. A small traffic roundabout is reached — attractive with its granite drinking fountain:
The small white building opposite is the Old Grammar School. Continue on the left-hand pavement, past the bank and, in another 100 metres, turn left through Old College Gate into Dulwich Park. The entrance to this is by the low brick building on the opposite side of the road, just past the Old College Chapel:
Dulwich Park is a fine late Victorian public park, opened in 1890. Walk along the Carriage Drive and pass through the traffic barrier. Go forward along the left fork for 50 metres, then take the gravel path crossing the sanded horse-ride. On reaching the low railing, turn right then quickly left, to cross a bridge with a pretty shrubbery on the right and a lake on the left, which supports a variety of wildfowl. Continue alongside this lake, swinging left until a railed boardwalk over the lake is reached, then walk along this. At its end, cross over a path and take the forward path swinging right past rhododendrons. This emerges at a T-junction, where turn left up to toilets. The park café is over to the left:
Turn right at the toilets then almost immediately left on a broad tarmac path. In 30 metres, turn right on a gravel path, passing a play area on the right. Ignoring all side paths. This part of the park contains the American Garden which boasts a stunning display of azaleas in May:
Where the path divides at a wooden shelter, swing right then shortly left to cross the sanded horse-ride again and exit the park through the Rosebery Gate ahead of you. Now turn left along Dulwich Common, now part of the South Circular Road. On reaching the road junction after 350 metres, cross Dulwich Common at the cross-lights and enter little Cox’s Walk alley, just to the right of the church. The church was formerly dedicated to St Peter and was built between 1873-74. Follow the might-be-exahusting path uphill:
Just as gates are reached, turn left over the bridge. At the end of the bridge, turn right through a swing gate to enter the Sydenham Hill Wood Nature Reserve. Ascend steps on an earthen path. Ignoring side paths, keep to the mainly level main path. Go through a clearing and ease left to continue on the main path, which soon twists right, then forks left through holly bushes. Just past a post, numbered “4” is a mock ruin — a folly dating from Victorian times. The way out is a bit confusing. Now go forward over ridges to quickly find an obvious path with steps and follow this, initially besides a fence, at it twists about and descends to come out onto the broad crossing track of the former railway. It is worth diverting a few metres to the left to inspect the spectacular tunnel which took the railway to the Crystal Palace High Level Station (on your left). Returning to your previous point, go forward over shallow steps (offset slightly) and pass through a line of posts to continue more-or-less forward — the path is indistinct for a few paces, but soon becomes obvious. Continue for 50 metres or so, ending at a T-junction. Turn left here to find a twisting, but well-defined path. Eventually, allotments and a carpark come into view. After some distance, pass a cross–path with a litter bin and bench. Do not turn here, but continue forward for some distance, modern housing making an appearance on the right. The path comes out through a gate onto Low Cross Lane.
Turn left to ascend the lane. At the top of the lane, detour left for a few metres along Crescent Wood Road to view No 3, where lived John Logie Baird, the inventor of television. A little further along, across the road, is Six Pillars, an important modernist house. Retrace your steps and pass the Dulwich Wood House, then cross the busy Sydenham Hill via the pedestrian crossing and enter Wells Park Road opposite. Here see our Tip on the Dulwich Wood House Pub.
Follow the curving Wells Park Road downhill. Cross Longton Avenue and turn right into Sydenham Wells Park. This is one of the most beautiful parks I've seen in whole London ! Compliments to the responsible gardner (2nd picture) !!!
Take the right fork and descend into the bowl of the park, ignoring all cross-paths, to pass between two lakes. Continue forward up a rising path to leave the park. Cross Longton Avenue (again), go up Ormanton Road, and cross the busy Westwood Hill. Go forward into Charleville Circus, bearing left around the circle of houses, then along the remainder of the street to emerge onto Crystal Palace Park Road, where turn left downhill for 100 metres and enter Crystal Palace Park via Fishermen’s Gate on the opposite side of the road:
Turn left after 25 metres and, towards the bottom of the hill, turn left on a side path at the Capital Ring sign. Go over the next cross-paths, then past a carpark, and continue all the way down to a second carpark. The buildings now on your right contain toilets and an information centre.On the small hill ahead is a café. Go up behind this to reach Dinosaur Lake. Note the Gorila statue closeby:
Here turn right to keep the lake on your left. A group of Irish Elks marks the start of the Prehistoric Monster Trail.The 33 life-sized creatures were created in 1854 by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins.They have recently been restored, together with replicated geological features. Keep left at successive junctions, then cross the bridge by the geological strata to bear left at a fine old oak and explore the main group of dinosaurs:
(see more pictures from the Dinosaurs Trail on our Blog of Crystal Palace in the Capital Loop section - under Greater London Trip).
At the far end of the lake, turn right twice to ascend a slope. Ignore the first path on the right, but take the next right at the flat-roofed building to keep the National Sports Centre on your left, eventually swinging right downhill:
In case you are exhasted - to connect with central London by rail, turn left downhill, exit the park right, cross the National Sports Centre approach road, then take the minor road to find Crystal Palace National Rail Station ahead.
At the bottom, turn left on a cross-path and go past toilets, then straight over the next cross-path and past swings on the right, to eventually arrive back at a path where you were earlier. Turn left here and, at the top of a short hill, turn left in front of the somewhat-hidden Fishing Lake. Go around a series of bends and, where the path becomes more open, look for The Maze on the left. This is a recreation of one of the park’s most famous features, originally created around 1870, but only recently restored. Explore at will before returning to the main path. Now go past the Concert Bowl bandstand. Ignore the paths in front of the first of the terraces, but continue forward to turn left through gates at the top of the hill, then swing right to gain the uppermost terrace, at the top swinging left past monumental sphinxes. There are huge views south-eastwards towards the North Downs, and on your right is the BBC’s Transmitter Mast, at 222 metres, the second-highest structure in Greater London:
Follow the terrace past the remains of statues until a further pair of sphinxes. Take the steps on the right, then turn left to reach the Crystal Palace Museum. Although this is only open on weekend afternoons. Admission is free.
The walk finishes here. For a bus connection back to Brixton (Route 3), climb further steps and ascend into a hedged garden to find the bus station ahead of you. Or, to connect with central London by rail, turn left downhill, exit the park right, cross the National Sports Centre approach road, then take the minor road to find Crystal Palace Station ahead.