Quite out of the blue I got an invitation to join a friend and her family, and some mutual friends on a Sunday morning walk from Brixton to Crystal Palace…

…with a couple of beer stops planned and forays into green spaces I’d never explored before I thought ‘Why not?’ and tagged along.

Starting point: Brixton Underground station.

Finishing point: Crystal Palace railway station is in Zones 3 AND 4 so you can travel to or from here with a Zone 3 travelcard.

Length: 7-8 miles.

We all met in a café near Brixton tube station and my friend corralled our gaggle under her clipboard and off we went down Effra Road.

First green space was Brockwell Park, accessed through a side gate on Brixton Water Lane.  It’s a nice enough park with wide views from the top of its hill but the only real point of interest – sculpted gardens – was chained closed that morning.

We descended into Herne Hill and picked up supplies of snacks and drinks from the convenience store.  There followed a dull but fairly suburban length of residential streets, Half Moon Lane, Burbage Road and Turney Road that linked us finally to the Crown & Greyhound pub in Dulwich, which incidentally does a superb carvery on Sundays, where we quenched our growing thirsts by quaffing ale.

After everyone was properly watered we headed off towards the Dulwich Picture Gallery but turned left off of College Road road and into Dulwich Park.  This is a lovely place with ponds and board-walks and plenty of tree-shaded grass areas to picnic on.  Not needed that day but just so you know.  There also used to be a large bronze Barbara Hepworth sculpture in the park but, as with the brass plates on Addington Hills viewing platform this has been stolen and presumably melted down for the tuppence of scrap value it might obtain.  Barbarians!

We exited this park onto the A205 road and headed east.  After some questioning of our leader’s directions we found the entrance to Sydenham Hill Woods just before the junction with Lordship Lane and stalked into the darkness it cultivated.  We followed the path up to a bridge that used to cross a railway line which was decommissioned in 1956 but immortalised in a painting by Camille Pissarro.  All that remains of the railway is a ditch where the tracks once lay, and the mysterious tunnel you can see if you look over the wall lining the sheer drop off the north side of Crystal Palace Parade.

Painting by Camille Pissarro of the railway passing through Dulwich

Crossing the aforementioned bridge takes you through the woods up a gentle slope where you can glimpse houses through the foliage.  You also pass a ruined folly.  Shortly after there is a very steep track to your left.  Taking that to the top ejaculates you out of the route’s woodland, outside the Dulwich Woodhouse, where more delicious cold alcohol awaits.

At the time I undertook this walk I lived in Upper Norwood so I completed the day by heading home from the pub through Crystal Palace.  I briefly joined the Capital Ring which passes near to that house, but then left that route and reached home.  A surprisingly green and leisurely 6.6 miles that I’d recommend you give a try but if you wanted to alter it slightly to link some of the longer paths together then you could walk the extra two miles from the Thames Path at Vauxhall Bridge to Brixton before linking to the Capital Ring and Green Chain in Crystal Palace.  Just don’t expect that Vauxhall/Kennington stretch to be enjoyable – it’s a bit grim!

Edit: As of 2011 the Green Chain extension passes through Sydenham Hill Wood as well, meaning better signposting and clearer links to other local walks – Whoop!