8 Miles - 800' of ascent
If you are looking for something a little extra for your exercise walk and are bored with the same old routes, try this challenging roam around Dulwich’s green spaces and vantage points abounding in great views over London and Kent. Stops for the occasional breather coincide with the opportunity to read the numerous information panels located around the route. As the walk is circular it can be joined at any point, although the suggested start is Dulwich’s new Village Orchard located at the junction of Gallery Road and Dulwich Village. Take-away refreshments and toilet facilities are located at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich Park and Horniman Gardens.
1. From the Village Orchard cross Gallery Road and College Road into Dulwich Park. Pass the café and continue to the American Garden, turning left at the shelter to cross the horse ride and exit through the gate into Fireman’s Alley. Turn left up Fireman’s Alley (A), turning left in Lordship Lane and crossing the road to Mount Adon Park opposite. Follow this steep twisting road and about 30 yards before the junction with Dunstans Road, turn right along a metaled path. The path passes through the grassed area below Ladlands (B) and affords the first great view over London. Continue straight ahead along this level path and follow it downhill to Hillcourt Road. Continuing straight ahead, reach Underhill Road and the new gates of Camberwell Old Cemetery. (C)
2. Turn right on Underhill Road and follow it uphill around the side of the cemetery to Langton Rise. Turn left here and at Woodvale turn left again, still following the perimeter of the cemetery, to Forest Hill Road. Cross opposite to an entrance gate into Brenchley Gardens (D). When the path forks, follow the grassy path on the left and after about 100 yards exit through a gate on your right, crossing the road (Brenchley Gardens) to the entrance gate into One Tree Hill. At the information board ahead turn left to follow the Hoggin Path and when it forks, keep right on a metaled path going steeply uphill and up steps to reach the summit.(E ) Follow the path past the Oak of Honor, pausing at the WW1 gun emplacement and Beacon to observe the view from the height of 300. feet
3. Continue along the path and follow it steeply downhill, passing the drive to St Augustine’s Church (F) into Honor Oak Rise. Turn right, and at the Sacred Heart Convent (G) cross the road into Honor Oak Park. Follow this road for a half mile to Westwood Park on the right. Follow this road uphill to the junction at the top where turn left into Horniman Drive and continue into Horniman Gardens (H). Walk downhill, past the bandstand and the formal garden to the gate at the bottom right corner. Cross London Road to a small path opposite marked with a Green Chain Walk signpost. Follow the path (Lapsewood Walk) uphill and through a small gate into Sydenham Hill Wood (I), Follow the diverted path beside the bridge and keeping right cross the old railway track bed to Dulwich Wood on the other side. Keeping close to the fence of the golf course, pass the pond and continue ahead to finally reach a T junction of paths near the allotments. Turn left here and follow this path to reach the exit gate into Low Cross Wood Lane.
4. Turn left and going steeply uphill reach a gate opposite the Dulwich Wood House PH (J), turn right and cross Sydenham Hill to Wells Park Avenue opposite. Just past Longton Avenue turn right into Sydenham Wells Park (K). Bear left, downhill on the path and then turn right along a level path, crossing the park with its lake to the exit at Ormanton Road. Continue ahead, crossing into Charleville Circus and keeping left reach Crystal Palace Park Road turning left, downhill for 75 yards to a gate on the opposite side into Crystal Palace Park (L). Follow the wide metaled path uphill, passing a small lake and when opposite the concert bowl, with the TV mast ahead of you, turn right uphill on a path to exit the park. Turn left and at the second roundabout cross to Fountain Drive opposite. Follow this road into College Road and continuing downhill and passing Dulwich College (M), cross the South Circular Road (Dulwich Common) to return to the start of the walk.
A Dulwich fire station was opened in 1893 and accommodated 10 firemen and four horses. The appliances were a steamer, one manual engine and four fire escapes. It took 25 seconds from an alarm being given to the departure of an appliance.
B This 250’ hill known in former times as Ladlands still showed evidence in late Victorian times of the rectangular earth banks of a probable Roman fort. Other sources have also considered it to be Iron Age or Viking. Chosen for its strategic position, it overlooks the Thames and commands wide views on its other sides.
C Camberwell Old Cemetery was consecrated in 1856 and enlarged in 1876. It covers 30 acres and contains over 310,000 bodies and is the most heavily buried cemetery in Southwark. Among those buried there are 288 servicemen who served in World War 1. Extensive improvements are currently being made, including new paths, gates and the planting of trees. The date for completion of these works is scheduled for December 2021.
D Brenchley Gardens were opened in 1928, laid out on a steeply sloping site with a sunken garden and ornamental displays. The old track bed of the Crystal Palace High Level Railway was incorporated into the garden after its closure in 1954.
E One Tree Hill rises 300’ above sea level and affords wide views over London and Kent. It was used as a telegraph station in 1841 being part of a commercial line linking London with shipping passing through the Channel near Dover. The next station was Knockholt. It was also the reputed site where Queen Elizabeth took rest beneath an oak tree in 1602 when visiting Sir Richard Buckley of Lewisham. The site of the original tree is marked with an oak tree surrounded by a railing. A few yards further on is the circular base of a WWI gun used to fire at Zeppelin raiders. Close by is a beacon placed there in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It is a reminder of the beacon which once stood there to give warning of invasion by the Spanish and later the French.
F St Augustine’s Church built 1872-4 by William Oakley.
G Woodville Hall, the Grade 2 building is now part of the Sacred Heart Convent and school.
H Horniman Gardens and Museum were opened in 1901 and given to the people of London as a free museum. The gardens occupy the grounds of Surrey Mount, the home of the philanthropist and tea importer Frederick Horniman.
I Dulwich and adjacent Sydenham Hill woods are the largest remaining part of the ancient Great North Wood which once stretched from Deptford to the vicinity of Croydon. Both woods are owned by the Dulwich Estate but are leased and managed by the London Wildlife Trust. Dividing the two woods is the former track-bed, now a path, of the Crystal Palace High Level Railway which opened in 1865 and closed in 1954.
J The Dulwich Wood House was built as part of an extensive scheme by Frederick Fuller, a director of the Crystal Palace Company in 1854. Although many of the envisaged 188 houses were built, of the three pubs and two hotels only the Dulwich Wood House was completed.
K Sydenham Wells Park occupies a sloping site with good views. At the lower part of the park were the famous medicinal springs known as Sydenham Wells .and immensely popular from the late seventeenth century. Some of the springs are still active. The park opened in 1901.
L Crystal Palace Park occupies the site of the grounds of the Crystal Palace which opened in 1854 following on from the success of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851. Sir Joseph Paxton, who built the original design, based on that of the great glasshouse at Chatsworth, enlarged his Hyde Park design by 50%. The lower terraces are visible diagonally left on this walk and the larger lake seen is one of the reservoirs which supplied water to the twin towers which powered the huge fountains.
On the evening of 30th November 1936 a fire broke out and within twenty minutes the building was engulfed with flames. Sixty-five fire engines called to the Palace were unable to extinguish the flames and it was completely destroyed.
M Dulwich College was built by Charles Barry Jnr in 14C Northern Italian style and opened in 1870. Finance for the construction came from the sale of land on the Dulwich estate to various railway companies in the 1860’s..