11th March 2018: Along the Green Chain from New Eltham to Abbey Wood

Thirteen people came on this walk, on what felt like the first proper spring Sunday. Unlike the Capital Ring or the London Loop, the Green Chain is not a single route but a network running through several south east London boroughs, linking parks, commons and woods. Sunday’s route partly used paths that are part of the Capital Ring, but the second half was quite new for most members, and surprising.

We started at New Eltham station and the first part of the day took us over playing fields and parks to reach Oxleas Wood, the focus of a successful campaign to block a planned motorway, and an early lunch at the cafe on Oxleas Meadow.

Crossing Plumstead Common, and the “Links” Co-op

We then ascended to the summit of Shooters Hill, crowned by a water tower which is a landmark for all of east London, then down through Shrewsbury Park and some suburban streets to reach Plumstead Common, preserved for the public following the Plumstead Common Riots of 1876. Damien told us about the fascinating history of the “Links” Co-op building, which I can’t now remember.

The sign dividing Bostall Woods into 19 zones

So far we had been walking mainly north, but we now turned east to walk the full length of the common. That eventually led us into Bostall Woods, at whose entrance was a sign telling us not about the woods’ history or ecology, but about how to tell the police which “zone” we were in if we had to phone for help using our mobiles. The woods themselves were quite beautiful.

Our final bit of greenery was Lesnes Abbey Woods. Some of the party visited the ruins of Lesnes Abbey, but my group went straight to Abbey Wood station, recently rebuilt for Crossrail — and actually saw a Crossrail train, although the line does not open until December.




About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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