This walk starts at North Greenwich Underground Station and ends at Blackheath National Rail Station, visiting the Thames Path, Charlton, Woolwich Common and Kidbrooke.

It is an easy walk combining riverside, parks and good views, with some short stepped climbs in Maryon Park. The length is 8.37 miles / 13.47 kilometres and several drop-out points are available.

It is possible to combine this with the Blackheath to North Greenwich walk to form a 14 mile (23½ km) circular route.

 


 

1. Take the main exit from North Greenwich Underground Station and follow the covered walkway across  Peninsula Square. On reaching the Millennium Dome, now re-badged as the O2, continue along Penrose Way between the Dome and the strikingly decorated Ravensbourne Building on the right. Pass two drum-like towers, then continue forward alongside a fence to reach the River Thames where turn right. If connecting from the walk starting at Blackheath, follow the instructions from this point onwards.

2. Continue past North Greenwich Pier to pass “Quantum Cloud”, an artwork by Antony Gormley, standing on caissons in the river. If you look carefully, you can see the outline of a human figure in the middle. Follow the river under the Cable Car. The view ahead is towards Shooters Hill and the boats moored hereabouts belong to the Greenwich Yacht Club. Much new housing is currently being built along here. Soon after passing a jetty and a play area, arrive at the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, just by some brightly-coloured Lego-like buildings. Turn right along the boarded walk by the lake. Go through the gate at the end of the boarded walk and turn sharp left, then left again alongside the lake continuation. (Should this walk be closed, just continue forward alongside the river).

Quantum Cloud
Quantum Cloud
Millennium Village from the Ecology Park
Millennium Village from the Ecology Park

 

3. On reaching the corner of the wooden Yacht Club building, turn right then left again to regain the river. An industrial stretch follows, passing under conveyor belts and aggregate loading sites, and a foray away from the river is necessary. There is a profusion of buddleia along here in summer. Continue along a roadway until the Anchor and Hope pub is reached, past where the route rejoins the river and continues to the Thames Barrier.

The Thames Barrier was constructed between 1974 and 1982 to protect London from flooding from tidal surges. A series of huge gates — the largest are 3,700 tonnes — normally lie flat in the river bed, but are rotated upright to close the barrier when an abnormal tide threatens. They have been used with increasing frequency and this trend is likely to continue as the effects of climate change produce higher tides and more storms.

4. At the Thames Barrier, keep forward over steps to take a covered passageway to the left, in which is a profile map of the Thames from the source to the Shivering Sands Forts. Emerging from here, unless calling at the Visitor Centre (refreshments and toilets here), turn right up and down more steps and continue forward. Much of the route now follows the Green Chain Walk. Walk parallel to a roadway, then cross to take any forward path through the Barrier Gardens ahead. Pass the redundant Thames Barrier Arms, now a veterinary clinic, then continue through more gardens to the Woolwich Road.

5. Use the light-controlled crossing and enter Maryon Park, where turn left. Follow the path past a play area to tennis courts, where fork right. Just before these end, take a narrow rising path which quickly becomes steps on the right. At the top, bear left along a terraced path. More steps are reached; take those ascending to the right, then go through gates and immediately take a narrow gravel path on the right. Then cross Thorntree Road and enter Maryon Wilson Park. The path descends to pass between the fences of an animal enclosure. Just past the enclosure, turn left, then follow the path onward, ignoring any side paths, through the well-wooded park, finally emerging at Charlton Park Road.

These parks formed part of Hanging Wood, the lair of highwaymen who plagued Shooters Hill. Sandpits in Maryon Park were used to provide sand to cover London parlour floors in the eighteenth century before carpets came into general use. The park names derive from the original ownership of the land by the Maryon-Wilson family, who bequeathed it to the-then London County Council. The animal enclosure in Maryon Wilson Park has ducks, geese, pigs, chickens and a deer enclosure.

6. Turn right, crossing the road to enter Charlton Park in 50 metres, then turn right after the carpark. Go down an avenue of trees and continue to a T-junction, Charlton House now prominently in view. There is now a choice of exploring the gardens and village or proceeding to the next stage of the walk. If omitting the exploration, turn left and continue from point 8. To make the exploration, turn right, then left by a café, to pass Charlton House on your left, emerging by a summer-house (possibly by Inigo Jones) into Charlton Road. Turn right to see Charlton Church and right again into The Village to use the shops or pubs, returning to this point later.

Charlton is one of the few places left in London which still retains its grouping of church and manor house, and still feels very much like a village. Charlton House is considered to be the finest Jacobean mansion in London, attributed to John Thorpe and constructed for Sir Adam Newton around 1607-12. It is now used as a community centre and library. St Luke’s Church, rebuilt around 1630, contains the burial place of Britain’s only assassinated prime minister, Spencer Perceval, who was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons in 1812.

Drop out point: There are several bus routes running from Charlton Village, including numbers 422 and 486 which connect back to North Greenwich — see bus stops for details; alternatively a 700-metre walk (or bus ride) down Charlton Church Lane will take you to Charlton National Rail Station, with connections to Blackheath and Central London.

7. Returning from The Village along Charlton Road, walk a few metres along Hornfair Road and turn left through brick piers to the front of Charlton House. Walk up the main drive and then, keeping by the house, walk right around it. At the furthest rear corner, go through a gate in the wall to enter the Amnesty International Peace Garden. Pass through the opposite gated wall to enter a further garden, exiting through the gates to the left. Take the forward path between a long lawn and flower borders. NB: should these gardens be closed for any reason, it is an easy matter to skirt around to the left to reach the long lawn. At the end of the lawn, turn right through a hedge gap and bear left to rejoin your earlier path past the café, then turn right to retrace your steps to the T-junction and rejoin the Green Chain Walk.

Charlton House Gardens
Charlton House Gardens
Woolwich Common
Woolwich Common

 

8. Go forward towards the line of houses in front of you. Just before the park exit, turn left over grass to keep just inside the edge of the park. Continue until a gate in the railings and exit through it, then cross into the continuation of Charlton Park Lane, shortly after turning left into Inigo Jones Road. At the end of this, go forward into Hornfair Park. Turn right then quickly left, go past a BMX track, then leave the park at its top left-hand corner. Hornfair Park, which is mainly playing fields, was part of Charlton Manor Grounds, and opened as a park in 1935. It is in complete contrast to the luxuriant Maryon and Maryon Wilson parks and the wild stretches of Woolwich Common.

9. Passing a carpark, turn left along Stadium Road. Go across the zebra crossing and immediately onto Woolwich Common, taking a wide rising grassy path half-left. Join a path coming in from the left and go forward through a belt of trees. Ignore the first cross-path and continue forward, the houses of Shooters Hill in front of you in the distance and Woolwich barely visible off to the left. Woolwich Common, which rises sharply to the south of the military town of Woolwich, has seen much encroachment over time by the Army. Much of the land to the south of Ha-Ha Road, however, is open to the public to explore and enjoy.

10. At the next cross-paths (beside a tall hedge and shortly before a road), turn right along a broad gravel track. Where this forks, keep forward (leaving the Green Chain Walk). Follow the broad, now grassy, track swinging right, aiming first for a red brick tower and later towards flats. Where the surface changes from grass to a broad gravel track, keep on for about 100 metres to find an obvious path just before a tall hedgerow on the left and follow this downhill to emerge onto Baker Road opposite Master Gunner Place. You are now quite near where you first entered the common.

Drop out point: There are numerous bus routes running from Baker Road/Shooters Hill Road; Number 161 connects directly back to North Greenwich Station — see bus stops for details.

11. Turn left now along Baker Road, following it around a left curve to the lights at the junction with Shooters Hill Road, where turn right. Keep forward until Corelli Road, the next turning on the left. Take the third turning on the right off Corelli Road (Holburne Road). Go along this until Kellaway Road is reached on the left. Turning left here and following the edge of the playing fields gives some good distant views. Where this stretch ends (Hargood Road), turn left along Dursley Road, crossing Woolacombe Road towards the end. On reaching the wall at the end, turn left, then right, to take the footbridge over the Rochester Way Relief Road.

12. Turn right past the shops on Kidbrooke Parade, then take the next left along Brook Lane, which quickly swings around to the right. Brook Lane ends at Kidbrooke Park Road - the church over to the right is St James, Kidbrooke, built in 1867. Use the zebra crossing over this busy road to take the footpath almost immediately opposite. Cross Kidbrooke Grove to continue on the footpath which now skirts around Morden College, a substantial almshouse.

Morden College was founded in 1695 as an almshouse by Sir John Morden for “poor Merchants... and such as have lost their Estates by accidents,dangers and perils of the seas or by any other... in their honest endeavours to get their living by means of Merchandising”. It is still used as an almshouse and stands in extensive landscaped grounds. Look back at the College just before leaving the footpath, for a view of the main front. There is a spectacular entrance with double statues of Sir John and his wife in the pediment.

Morden College
Morden College
Blackheath Pond
Blackheath Pond

 

13. The footpath emerges at a corner of Blackheath by the junction of Morden Road and The Paragon. The route now follows the edge of the common. With The Paragon on your left, go forward along the remainder of Morden Road, which soon becomes South Row, swinging left into Montpelier Row just past Blackheath Pond. At the end of Montpelier Row, keep forward to descend Montpelier Vale into Blackheath village centre. Blackheath railway station and bus stops are a little further on to the left.

The end of our walk passes some of the finest buildings in Blackheath. The Paragon was built in 1794 to 1807. Colonnade House in South Row was built around 1804, and buildings in Montpelier Row date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The somewhat oddly-placed church of All Saints was built as a new parish church for Blackheath in 1857-67.

If you started your walk at North Greenwich and wish to return by a different route, instead of descending to the village centre, turn right to pass to the left of the church and refer to the instructions for the Blackheath to North Greenwich walk.

 


 

© Mike Biggs, Ramblers (Inner London Area), 2016.

If you have any comments about this walk, or notice that it needs updating to take account of changes on the route, then please contact Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.