A walk dominated by cemeteries, with a smattering of outstanding views.

As part of my quest to finish off the Green Chain I have several smaller walks to do. This one was nice and close to home and, with only a couple of hours to spare, it was a great way to fill a Saturday morning.

I battled one of our cats into a box as he went off to the vet and I got dropped off by car at the Dulwich Woodhouse pub on the Crystal Palace-Sydenham border.

Distance: 4 miles (but longer if you walk from the nearest train stations).

Starting point: The Dulwich Woodhouse pub, reachable by 202 or 363 buses, or from Sydenham train station.

Finishing point: Nunhead train station.

I ticked off Sydenham Hill Wood a few years ago on a walk from Brixton to Crystal Palace but time I approached the woodland through the Green Chain so I avoided the steep path opposite the Dulwich Woodhouse and instead walked along Crescent Wood Road until the blazes point you off to the left.

Railway tunnel in Sydenham Hill Wood

London is clearly saturated at the moment, every path I’ve trodden over the past week has been very muddy, and it’s not really rained much… Down the gentle steps I went, crossing over the brick top to a tunnel entrance. At the bottom you take the path of an old railway line. There’s no sign of the rails any more but the tunnel behind you looks impressively well preserved despite a century of rest.

A lovely winter woodland view, Green Chain - Sydenham Hill Wood

You cross over Cox’s Walk Bridge after only a short distance. This bridge is the point from which CamilleĀ Pissarro painted the following scene (in the Courthauld Collection) of Lordship Lane.

Pissarro's painting of Lordship Lane, from what is now Sydenham Hill Wood. From the Courtauld Collection

The view now is utterly different.

The modern view from Cox's Walk Footbridge along the Green Chain in Sydenham Hill Wood, from which Pissarro painted Lordship Lane

Up a completely slushy trail you go. It takes you to the edge of a housing estate, replete with lovely green grass which helps clean off your treads. Northeast you go until you reach the A205, with the Horny Man Museum gardens beyond (Horniman – a childhood joke that never gets old, for me at least).

The gazebo in the Horniman Museum gardens along the Green ChainSuddenly you realise that you’re actually at a pretty impressive altitude but that you’ve not seen much so far. Beyond a weird Lego-style housing blocks on the horizon lies The Shard. Pass under the Pavilion in the gardens and veer slightly left, down the hill. An alleyway and a quiet road connect you to Camberwell Old Cemetery. At the moment the main gate is shut but makeshift laminated signs do point you the right way, left-ways, to a small gap in the hedge.

A Chinese grave in Camberwell Old Cemetery on the Green ChainThis cemetery is a rambling mixture of late nineteenth century and present-day graves and memorials. The undulating ground has rendered quite a few of the structures dangerously unstable so they are fenced off, a theme for the rest of this walk, but for now there are lot of pretty and intact memorials to be seen and hardly any visitors to the dead at all.

Camberwell Old Cemetery along the Green Chain

As you come out of the cemetery turn right and then cross over Forest Hill Road and enter Brenchley Gardens. As the path enters a sodden green tract you are treated to magnificent views over the centre of London. Next New Year’s Eve I’m going to be seriously considering coming up here to view the fireworks.

The view from Brenchley Gardens to central London, on the Green Chain

Rejoining the main road takes you to Camberwell New Cemetery, which has a weird atmosphere because of the football pitches behind it. Kids whooping and shouting makes the trickle of mourners and visitors seems out of place, even though this is definitely their patch.

A few more residential streets twist and turn until they deposit you in Nunhead Cemetery, your third graveyard of the day. This one is massively overgrown. It actually verges on woodland and a glance either side of the path reveals headstones disappearing as far as the eye can see.

Heavily eroded headstone in Nunhead Cemetery, Green Chain

The beautiful chapel was the victim of arson in the 1970s but is still used occasionally. But only in good weather I’d hope!

The chapel in Nunhead Cemetery, Green Chain section 11

The state of the interior of the chapel in Nunhead Cemetery, Green ChainAs you leave the cemetery the Green Chain signposts remind you that it’s 22 miles back around to the Thames Barrier. Again, a moment to relive the whole route in my mind.

Nunhead trail station is only five minutes from here and surely should hold the award for the best train station views in the whole city. Waiting half an hour for the next train was no problem at all with views like this.

The amazing view from Nunhead train station of The Shard and St. Paul's Cathedral

Section 11 of the Green Chain isn’t full of drama but it has some pretty cemeteries, a fair amount of history, and great views at random times. At only four miles it’s short, but sweet.