End of the Trail

After three years, I’ve decided to call it a day. I will not be leading any more Lewisham nature walks. I started the walks back in July 2014 to publicise the walk leaflets which the Creekside Trust and Lewisham Council produced. My walks carried on from there. I’ve led 37 in total, covered virtually all the green spaces in Lewisham and some in neighbouring boroughs. I need to concentrate on other things in my life now.


I hope that you have enjoyed the walks, that you feel more informed about Lewisham’s great green spaces and will continue to seek them out and use them. In these days of cuts and ever-increasing development, if they’re not used they may disappear. To follow other nature activities in the borough, I recommend that you look at and bookmark the Lewisham Nature Conservation blog which can be found by clicking here. Thank you for coming on my walks. I’ll still be around and hope to see some of you along the trail. Adios, Tom.


Summer in the Cemeteries

I’m leading another walk around the Brockley & Ladywell cemeteries on Sunday 9 July, starting at 1.30 and meeting outside the chapel in the Ladywell section (access via the gates at the junction of Brockley Grove, Ivy Road and Ladywell Road.)


The cemeteries are a Grade 1 Site of Borough Importance for nature conservation and the walk will take us through some of the wilder areas. We will be listening for bird song and the laughing call of the Green Woodpecker, looking at some of the flowers that will be in bloom especially the Broad-leaved Helleborine (rare in Lewisham and a member of the Orchid family) and following the fluttering butterflies including the colony of Marbled Whites – a species normally confined to ┬áchalk downland.


This walk will last one hour only and is part of the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries open day which lasts from 11.00-17.00. There will be four other guided walks including a Jack the Ripper Tour (!) and a Great War Walk, as well as stalls, refreshments, books and local maps for sale and a display of wildlife photos in the chapel. Hope to see some of you there.

Catford Bridge To Cator Park: Following the River Pool

The next Lewisham nature walk will be on Sunday 11 June, meet at 2pm on Adenmore Road outside Catford Bridge station. We will walk to the confluence between the rivers Ravensbourne and Pool, then follow the river Pool through Bell Green and Lower Sydenham to Cator Park where it meets the river Beck.

Bridge over the River Pool

For part of the way, we will be able to walk directly alongside the river in one of the most natural settings in Lewisham where you can imagine yourself in the countryside apart from the occasional sound of distant sirens. We will see birds, flowers, trees, butterflies, possibly damselflies and dragonflies – and one or two ponds as well. Not to mention the fish bypass…



The walk is approx 3 miles in length and should take about 2.5 hours, finishing at New Beckenham for train and bus connections. It is part of the Thames 21 3 Rivers Clean Up which brings together volunteers to clean up the rivers of SE London. However, we won’t be doing any cleaning on this occasion – just walking and appreciating the beauty of our local waterways. I hope to see some of you there.


And by the way – thanks to everyone who turned up for the last walk from Honor Oak to Nunhead.

Under the Oak of Honor


Reminder: Honor Oak to Nunhead Walk

A reminder that the next walk is this Saturday 20 May, meet at 12 noon outside Honor Oak station for a walk to Nunhead Cemetery via One Tree Hill, Brenchley Gardens and Peckham Rye Park. The annual Open Day will be going on at Nunhead Cemetery when we arrive with stalls, refreshments and events. For more details, see the post below.

Thanks to all those who came on the walk around Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries on 23 April. Here’s the group photo!18118535_10155398585004276_1348662604164592881_n

Honor Oak to Nunhead Cemetery

The next Lewisham Nature Walk will take place on Saturday 20 May, meet outside Honor Oak station at 12 noon. The earlier start time is to coincide with the annual Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Open Day and enable people to look round that if they wish after the walk. The route takes us over One Tree Hill, through Brenchley Gardens and down to Peckham Rye Park before turning back to Nunhead Cemetery where we should arrive at about 2 pm.

One Tree Hill

At One Tree Hill we have a steep but relatively short climb to the summit which is 265 feet above sea level and gives a good view of Central London. The hill (and the surrounding area) is named after the ‘oak of honor’ – an English oak under which Elizabeth 1 is said to have rested during a May Day excursion in 1602. In fact, there are hundreds of trees on the hill, some of which are a remnant of the Great North Wood. The presence of a Wild Service Tree on the west slope is an indicator of ancient woodland although there has been much planting since those days.

Oak of Honor

Across the road from One Tree Hill, Brenchley Gardens is a green belt of land which runs along the trackbed of the old Nunhead to Crystal Palace railway. This was closed in 1956 and the track lifted two years later. Today it is a formal linear park but with a wild edge and some interesting trees.

Brenchley Gardens

We then have to pound the tarmac for a short while down to Peckham Rye Park where the River Peck (which of course gives its name to Peckham) can be seen. The Peck flows underground from the summit of One Tree Hill but emerges into daylight for a short stretch through this park before going underground again and becoming one of the ‘lost rivers’ of London. Don’t get too excited by the word ‘river’ though – it trickles rather than rolls. The park has some attractive formal gardens, more interesting trees and a lake with waterfowl where we may see ducklings and goslings at this time of year.

The River Peck
In Peckham Rye Park

After that it’s a short walk via Stuart Road to Nunhead Cemetery where the Open Day will be in full swing. It promises ‘tours of the Cemetery, visits to the chapel and crypt – not usually open – guidance on family history, plus delicious food and drinks at our cafe.’ There is also an exhibition entitled ‘Women In Front – Commemorating the contribution of Women to the war effort at home and at the front in WW1.’

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Nunhead Cemetery

I look forward to seeing some of you on Saturday 20 May. The next walk after that will be on Sunday 11 June along the River Pool from Catford to Cator Park.



Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries: Spring Walk

The next Lewisham Nature Walk will be around the Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries on Sunday 23 April at 2.00 pm, meeting at the Ladywell gates at the junction of Ladywell Road and Ivy Road.  The cemeteries are classified as a Borough Grade 1 Site of importance for nature conservation and this will be a spring walk looking at the flora, birds, trees and any early butterflies. We can expect to see flowers such as lesser celandine, cow parsley, violets, bluebells, primroses and the cuckoo flower (see pic below) which is relatively rare in Lewisham. We might also see or hear the Green Woodpeckers which breed on the site, a singing Song Thrush and the song of migrant warblers such as the Blackcap and Chiffchaff. This walk is organised in conjunction with the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries.


Cuckoo Flower |(Photo: L Pasquire)

After that, there will be an opportunity to walk up to Hilly Fields for a quick look at the hawthorn blossom and horse chestnut blossom if ‘out’ and refreshments at the cafe if desired. Thanks to those who came on the 12 March walk from Surrey Quays to Greenwich. The rain held off and we had a good walk around Greenland Dock, along the Thames Path and through Deptford where we renewed our acquaintance with the ancient Black Mulberry tree in Sayes Court Park – still alive and as well as can be expected after losing a branch!


Surrey Quays to Greenwich

The next Lewisham nature walk will be on Sunday 12 March from Surrey Quays to Greenwich, starting at 2pm outside Surrey Quays station. We will duck and dive, bob and weave our way around the vast perimeter of Greenland Dock, along part of the Thames Path, through the green spaces of Deptford (yes, there are some), across the new Deptford Creek Bridge and end up by the Cutty Sark in Greenwich where there are good transport connections.

Cormorant on buoy in Greenland Dock

My walks are principally nature walks so we’ll be stopping now and then to look at the flora and fauna en route and hopefully finding some signs of spring. By the way, although I know a fair amount about the natural world, I’m not an expert and anyone else with knowledge of nature is welcome to contribute. Our route also takes us through an area rich in maritime history, so inevitably we will touch upon some aspects of that.

Shepherd's Purse
Shepherd’s Purse flowering in Pepys Park

The walk is approx 3.5 miles long, on mostly level ground and should take about 2.5 hours. I hope to see you there.

Rustyback Fern in St Nicholas’s churchyard