Iris Humphries explores the five-mile extension to the Green Chain Walk which opened late last year.
The South East London Green Chain, also known as the Green Chain Walk, is a linked system of open spaces between the River Thames and Crystal Palace Park. In 1977 the Greater London Council and four London Boroughs created a Green Chain of 300 open spaces, linked by a network of signed footpaths, in order to protect them from building activity.
The four London boroughs are Bexley, Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich. Many parts of the system are also part of the Capital Ring route. A Southwark section was planned from Nunhead to Crystal Palace, following the old High Level rail route.
This long-awaited extension finally opened on 26 September 2010 with splendid signage in place and a large crowd of walkers gathered at Nunhead station to inaugurate it.
The new route (about 5 miles in length) links Nunhead Cemetery and One Tree Hill with Horniman Gardens and Sydenham Hill Woods. At Lapsewood Walk it crosses the bridge painted by Pisarro and follows the route of the High Level railway to Crystal Palace, winding through the woods as far as the Dulwich Woodhouse. It then dives down Wells Park Road to the old Upper Sydenham Station house into another patch of the Great North Wood along High Level Drive, again following the old railway track and then up a steep footpath to Bluebell Close on Sydenham Hill, finally reaching the Italian Terraces in Crystal Palace Park and Crystal Palace station.At the Upper Sydenham Station house there is an alternative spur around beautiful Sydenham Wells Park, where a comfortable wooden bench has been placed.
The Sydenham Society post-Christmas stroll explored the route from Bluebell Close to the Harvester on Dulwich Common for our seasonal Christmas drink following the splendid new signage. The route is very easy to follow and it is hoped that walkers will now follow and enjoy the new extension to the Green Chain.