4 March 2020

Weekly Walk: South London parks

Last week's walk around some parks in North London last week worked well so we thought that we would do much the same thing in South London.

The big difference from me was I knew this area a lot less well and I was looking forward to visiting some new places.

The starting point was somewhat dictated by not being able to use mainline trains before 9:30am so we took the District Line from Richmond to South Kensington and headed south for Albert Bridge.

I had walked through Battersea Park several times, usually when going to Theatre503, so I led the way here and we went to the pagoda, the Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens (my favourite part), the Bandstand (as seen in Good Omens) and then around the lake.

The worst section of the walk, as I knew it would be, was the section from there to Clapham Common as the profusion of railway lines restricted our choice of routes and we had to spend some time on busy roads. We also walked up Lavender Hill.

Clapham Common was flat, featureless and boring.

The route to Brockwell Park was not bad as we managed to use side streets all the way. Brockwell Park had a lot in it, including a hill which we climbed to get our first view of the day of the City. I knew the park reasonably well from my time at LB Lambeth in Brixton but had not walked along the top of the hill before.

There was another pleasant hop to the cafe at Dulwich Picture Gallery where we had a late coffee break, it was midday by then. Dulwich Park was just across the road and this was the first of my first-time parks. It was nicely ornamental if a little small, even though we tried to find a long route through it.

The biggest hill came next as we climbed Overhill Road (the clue is in the name) and at the top we found the striking Dawson Heights.

Peckham Park was small but had some interesting parts, notably the Japanese Garden in the centre.

We ran out of parks then for a while but Peckham Rye made up for that. It was one of those neighbourhoods dominated by relatively poor and/or recent immigrant families. This makes for a vibrant high street with lots of small shops and lots of people carrying bags of shopping.

Burgess Park was the big hit of the walk. It is something like a kilometre long and, we learned, was created from the Grand Surrey Canal, which I had never heard of.

The last green spaces were Kennington Common and Kennington Park but it started raining fairly hard by then so we did not pay much attention to either of them. This did not concern me as I knew something of Kennington Park from my visits to White Bear Theatre.

A beer was deserved by then and I was taken to Molly's close to Vauxhall Station, our end point. There I paid £4.5 for a third of a pint of decent beer and £5 for a remarkably good toasted cheese sandwich.

The arrival of rain curtailed our walking a little and we ended up doing 23.6km in something under four and a half hours.

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