Like many other Silver Travellers my travelling has been seriously affected by the Pandemic. Unable to go away anywhere I have been contenting myself with walking the local area and am lucky enough to live in a part of London that is near to numerous routes like The Green Chain Walk, The Thames Path and The Capital Ring. All of these paths are wonderful but over the last year I have developed my own local walk which is by far my favourite. It takes me from my home in Plumstead, SE18 and ends up in Charlton, SE7 and I thought you might like to join me on the route:
When I leave my house near Plumstead Common to start this walk I usually make a short detour into Woolwich to pass by the train station and collect my free copy of The Metro newspaper. I could walk directly over Plumstead Common onto Woolwich Common and this would be slightly quicker but, as I said, I prefer to do a little detour to get my daily news fix! So once I leave Woolwich Station I head up the hill, along Woolwich New Road towards the Royal Artillery Barracks on Woolwich Common. This is a hugely impressive building. It was the home of the Royal Artillery from 1776 -2007 and is now home to the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery. At 329 metres the south elevation constitutes the longest continuous composition in London and has a Georgian façade. There is a path through the Barracks Field where you can walk right alongside the building and you pass by the Crimean War Memorial by John Bell which stands on the Parade Ground and was unveiled in 1860. If you arrive fairly early in the morning you can often see the soldiers and their horses exercising in Barracks Field (or in the paddock located on Ha Ha Road). It is a really impressive sight and when I saw them recently they were working with gun carriages as well.
Carrying on past the Barracks you will pass The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and then turn right into Cemetery lane. The Queen Elizabeth used to be a military hospital (it was where Simon Weston was treated after he returned from the Falklands war) but it is now the main local hospital for the area. As you pass Charlton Cemetery you might like to pop in to visit the Commonwealth War Graves there. Across the road from the Cemetery is Charlton Park. This is mainly a park designed for exercising and dog walking, it doesn’t boast much in the way of flowers but it has a play area and at the far end of the park is the very impressive Charlton House. This House is the best example of Jacobean architecture in the country and the finest in London. Built in 1612 it was originally a residence for noblemen of the Stuart Royal Family but since then it has been a war hospital, a museum, a library and it now is a Community Centre (I have actually been volunteering there lately as it has been serving as a vaccine centre!) During normal times there is a tea room/café which is well worth a visit.
Back onto Cemetery Lane and you will come to the B210 road which can be quite busy. Cross here and you are at the entrance to Maryon Wilson Animal Park. This park was originally known as Hanging Wood. It was an ideal secure retreat for highwaymen who used Shooters Hill and Blackheath for their ill gotten gains! The ones caught were hung in Hanging Wood! Nowadays it is a lovely park with short forest walks and a menagerie of animals. Horses, sheep, goats, rabbits, ducks, geese and my favourite, two enormous pigs! There is also a deer enclosure and it is lovely to see the baby fawns there. The name Maryon Wilson came from the joining of two families in 1767 when Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson married Jane Weller of the Maryon family. In 1924 the
land was donated to the London County Council. You will also see parakeets all around the park (it seems every park in London now has it’s own parakeet population) but it is lovely to see these colourful birds in the trees of the park.
After you have passed the deer enclosure turn right up Thorntree Road and you will see, at the top of the hill, an entrance to another park. This is Maryon Park and there are quite a few steps down into the park. There is a tennis court and a play area and it has a Community Garden (not open at the moment). The highest point in Maryon Park is Cox’s Mount. Because of it’s height and views it was used in the 1850’s to adjust ship’s compasses and earlier, it was used as a Roman hill fort. You can see Gilbert’s Pit here, these sand pits provided sand for parlour floors before carpets became popular. In normal times there is usually a café here but it has not been open for some time.
As you come out of Maryon Park you are on the A206 and this is where I usually alter my route each time I do this walk. If I need to get some shopping I walk back along the A206 to Woolwich before returning home but more often than not I cross onto the Thames Path right by the Thames Barrier and walk that route back to Plumstead. (I have however done a different review for the Thames Path so I won’t detail that again).
On a sunny day this is a lovely walk with lots of places to just sit and watch the birds and the animals and enjoy the fresh air, but, having said that, I have also done this walk in the snow and it is just as impressive albeit colder!