These 11 little routes go all the way from the weird dinosaur statues in Crystal Palace Park to the Clockwork Orange film location of Thamesmead and then on to the River Thames. Great for when you need a break from the city, or just life in general.
The routes can be a bit hit and miss, as there’s often a quite a bit of walking along roads, but there’s definitely gems to find here and it’s especially magical if you don’t know the areas, and feel like your exploring a hidden route with the only clues being cute little signposts every so often to guide you on your way.
My particular highlights were the Lesnes Abbey Ruins and Woods, Oxleas Woods with Severndroog Castle, plus the route by Eltham Palace, which is a must-see in its own right.
Things to keep in mind before walking the Green Chain:
- It’s not a linear route – sections don’t always end where the following section starts. So if you want to combine two routes you might need to do a bit of planning in advance
- In parks, woods and open spaces you’ll find the signage on solid wooden posts with a yellow arrow on top
- On streets, follow the metal signs with a white logo and text on a green background
- The Green Chain Walk was set up in 1977 and as you can imagine, routes which were once green, have since been replaced by grey concrete and red-brick housing developments.
- Some sections, especially the woodlands, can be very muddy, so best to keep those for when it hasn’t rained for a while or take some heavy duty wellington boots if you enjoy a bit of wading.
The Green Chain trail passes by the following attractions and landmarks:
- Severndroog Castle: An 18th century Gothic-style tower.
- Eltham Palace: 1930s Art Deco decadence
- Winter Garden: A Victorian conservatory
- Crystal Palace Park: Including its Victorian Dinosaurs park and hedge maze
- Beckenham Place Swimming Lake: Wild Swimming Lake
- The Horniman Museum and Gardens: A quirky anthropological museum
- The Thames Barrier: The capital’s alien-like flood barriers
- Nunhead Cemetery: One of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries in London
- Shooters Hill Water Tower: A brick and terracotta Gothic Revival water tower
This 50 mile / 82 km route is divided into 11 sections:
Green Chain Walk Section 1: Thamesmead to Lesnes Abbey
How Far? 2.6 miles / 4.2 km
The route takes you from the brutalist beauty of Thamesmead to the historic ruins of Lesnes Abbey
Insider Tip: You’ll recognise the iconic four tower blocks from movies and TV shows including A Clockwork Orange and Misfits.
Green Chain Walk Section 2: Erith to Bostall Woods
How Far? 3.4 miles / 5.5 km
This section starts in Erith along the Thames Path and takes you through woodlands of Lesnes Abbey and ends at Bostall Woods.
Green Chain Walk Section 3: Bostall Woods to Oxleas Meadows
How Far? 2.9 miles / 4.7 km
Section 3 takes you from the beautiful Bostall Woods to Oxleas Meadows via East Wickham.
Insider Tip: If you venture to Bostall Woods from mid-April to late May you can enjoy the bluebells in bloom.
Green Chain Walk Section 4: Charlton Park to Bostall Woods
How Far? Part A 1.7 miles / 2.7 km and Part B 3.6 miles / 5.8 km
Going To Bostall Woods via Charlton Park or Plumstead Common
Green Chain Walk Section 5: Thames Barrier to Oxleas Meadows
How Far? 3.9 miles / 6.3 km
Going from the iconic Thames Barrier to Oxleas Meadows with a lot of parks and other green spaces in between.
Insider Tip: Pack a lunch with you to feast on while enjoying the views from Shooters Hill. Alternatively, get coffee or an iced drink at the Severndroog Castle Cafe.
Green Chain Walk Section 6: Oxleas Woods to Mottingham
How Far? 3.7 miles / 6 km
The route takes you from Oxleas Woods to Mottingham via the art deco masterpiece that is Eltham Palace.
Insider Tip: Calculate some time to Eltham Palace and Gardens.
Green Chain Walk Section 7: Shepherdleas Wood to Middle Park
How Far? 4.3 miles / 6.9 km
This route takes you from Avery Hill to Middle Park.
Green Chain Walk Section 8: Mottingham to Beckenham Place Park
How Far? Part A 4.6 miles / 7.4 kilometres // Add-on route 0.85 miles / 1.4 km
This route is from Mottingham to Beckenham Place Park via Downham + an add-on route to Chinbrook.
Green Chain Walk Section 9: Chislehurst to Beckenham Place Park
How Far? Part A 4.5 miles / 7.2 km and Part B 1.7 miles / 2.7 km
This section takes you from Mottingham Lane to Beckenham Place Park via Sundridge with an optional part B to Chislehurst.
Insider Tip: Save this one for a warm day so you can take a dip in the Beckenham Place pond.
Green Chain Walk Section 10: Beckenham Place Park to Crystal Palace
How Far? 3.9 miles / 6.3 km
This route links up the two massive South London parks, Beckenham Place Park and Crystal Palace Park, going via Cator Park.
Insider Tip: Grab some tasty treats at Brown & Green at Crystal Palace Station, probably the best station cafe in London.
Green Chain Walk Section 11: Crystal Palace to Nunhead Cemetery
How Far? 5.4 miles / 8.7 kilometres
This leg takes you from Crystal Palace Park to Nunhead Cemetery via the hidden gem of Sydenham Hill Wood.
Insider Tip: On Sundays, there’s a brilliant farmers’ market with regular and guest food stands at the Horniman Gardens.