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

Surrey Quays to Greenwich

The next walk will be on Sunday 15 January, meet at Surrey Quays station at 10.30 am. This has become one of my regular winter walks taking in what’s left of the Surrey Docks in their modern reincarnation, a stretch of the Thames Path and an amble through the greener parts of dear old Deptford. Towards the end, we will cross the new swing bridge over Deptford Creek.

Hopefully, we will see cormorants and grebes, some great river views, an ancient black mulberry tree and possibly a few flowers and ferns. We will also touch on some of the rich local history pertaining to the area. The walk is approx 3 miles long on level ground (apart from some stairs) and should take 2.5 hours.

Please note that this walk starts at 10.30 am, not my usual start time of 2 pm.

Autumn Walk Around Ladywell Fields

The next nature walk will be on Sunday 13 November, meet at 2pm outside Ladywell rail station. This will be a walk around Ladywell Fields looking at the autumnal landscape. We will follow the course of the river Ravensbourne which flows through the park and look out for birds, trees, flowers and anything else of natural interest.



The land that we now call Ladywell Fields is basically a set of flood or water meadows which have existed on the banks of the river for thousands of years.  It gets a mention in the Domesday Book as ‘thirty acres of meadow in the Manor of Lievesham’  and is thus in human terms an ancient landscape. Extra land has been incorporated into the park which now covers 46 acres. Our walk will zigzag across the park from north to south and back again with maybe time for a coffee at the cafe. I’m taking a break in December, so this will be the last walk I lead before Christmas. Hope to see you there.


Thank you to those who came on the 9 October walk. The weather wasn’t wonderful but didn’t impede the magnificent views from Point Hill. On the way there, we walked through Brookmill park and saw a heron in flight and some of the 200 year old Plane trees.


Cornmill to Point Hill

The next Lewisham Nature Walk will be on Sunday 9 October, starting at 2pm. This is a 3 mile circular walk starting outside the Glass Mill leisure centre. After a quick look at Cornmill Gardens, we’ll walk through Brookmill Park and up Blackheath Hill to Point Hill with its splendid views of Central London. From there, we’ll cut across the western side of Blackheath past Eliot Pits and return down Granville Park to end up close to our starting point.


Cornmill Gardens is a small but attractive green space around the banks of the river Ravensbourne. Part of it still has concrete channelling but has been much improved by planting. Fish can often be seen in the water and a large colony of house sparrows live in the dense vegetation. In the other part, the river has been opened up and you can get right down to the water’s edge.


The Ravensbourne flows through our next destination – Brookmill Park. Once part of the Kent Waterworks, it is now a beautiful green space with two resident herons and a large pond where coots breed. Kingfishers and little egrets can also sometimes be seen here and the riverside is lined with willows.


We will then walk up Blackheath Hill to Point Hill which is tucked away behind housing.At 130 feet above sea level and facing north, Point Hill gives close, panoramic views of central London. It is also the start of the long ridge which forms the eastern side of the Ravensbourne valley as it rises to Shooter’s Hill, then curves round to Chislehurst.


Finally, we will cross Blackheath past Eliot Pits, a former gravel pit left to grow wild, and down Granville Park back to the Lewisham stations and bus stops where we’ll also get a brief glimpse of the river Quaggy. This walk involves a gradual climb up to Point Hill, but is otherwise fairly level. It should last about two and a half hours.


A quick thank you to all those who came along to the River Pool walk on 11th September. It was a fine sunny afternoon and with the help of my secateurs and some boot pressure, we were able to get through the prickly vegetation and walk alongside the river for part of the way. As a reward, we had three separate sightings of a Kingfisher. I hope to see some of you again on 9th October.


Following the Pool

The next Lewisham Nature Walk is on Sunday 11 September, meet at 2pm on Adenmore Road immediately outside Catford Bridge station. For most of the route, we will be following the River Pool as far as Cator Park in Bromley. We begin by walking under the South Circular across a small retail park to the River Ravensbourne and after following that for a few hundred yards, we reach the Pool. See the map below for this stage.


The stretch of the Pool as far as the Winsford Road bridge is particularly attractive thanks to some excellent conservation work by Thames 21. We will be able to walk along the earth path next to the river and even step onto pebble banks in the water if conditions are right. At Winsford Road, we continue to follow the Pool through the attractive setting of Riverview Walk to Bell Green, then across Southend Lane to the old Lower Sydenham station allotments which now comprise a small green space with many trees, shrubs and flowers.
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Earth Path by the Pool
Past the station, we walk down Kangley Bridge Road to another very natural looking and attractive stretch of the Pool which runs alongside a sports ground and follow it across Lennard Road into Cator Park where we will see the confluence of the Pool and the River Beck (of Beckenham fame). After that we’ll double back to New Beckenham station where the walk ends. Trains from there run back to Lewisham. Alternatively, the 356 bus – to Sydenham vias the Horniman – can be caught on Kent House Road a few minutes walk away, or a little further in the opposite direction on Southend Lane the 54 bus will take you through Catford to Lewisham High Street and beyond.


For much of the way, this is one of the best walking routes in Lewisham. It’s on level ground, approximately 3 miles in length and should take about 2.5 hours. I look forward to seeing you there.