Bonus walk: Charlton to Dulwich Village

Dulwich Village
I wasn’t going to post this one, because I wasn’t expecting it to be too exciting. I only got the idea when I realised I could get the mapping application on my iPhone to rustle up directions for walkers. It said I could get to Dulwich Village in two hours, ten minutes. Could I? It’d be a challenge…

Well, it took two-and-half hours, in the end – I took a slightly more scenic route than the one recommended by Google, though; strolling through Greenwich Park and escaping the fumes of the A2 by diving down Tanners Hill in Deptford, which becomes Upper Brockley Road, then heading along Vesta Road and Kitto Road to the top of Telegraph Hill, above New Cross where the views are surprisingly good.

Skehans and the City

Crossing through Nunhead, I discovered the site of London’s only steam bus garage, demolished in 1999 but marked with a plaque. Powered by paraffin, the buses only lasted eight years before being replaced by petrol models in 1919. But the garage, with its distinctive clock tower, survived for another 80 years before being replaced by sheltered housing and a replica clock tower. Which I didn’t take a photo of.

Reaching Peckham Rye Common was a pleasure, because I’d forgotten just what an attractive spot it is. It’s just a shame that it’s choked by traffic.
Peckham Rye Common

The same for Goose Green in East Dulwich…
Goose Green, East Dulwich

…but that wasn’t deterring the scores of drinkers gathered outside its pubs in the late afternoon sunshine. A grown-up place with late opening and civilised people drinking outside? Is this London? It became less like it as the houses got bigger, the “this property is owned by a private school, sod off” signs appeared and the streets got leafier. And then… mission accomplished. Dulwich Village has got to be London’s twee-est place, hasn’t it? With London’s twee-est house.

Dulwich Village
London's twee-est house?

And one of London’s twee-er pubs, the Crown and Greyhound, where the early evening sun streamed in. Time for a cider. Outside.
Crown & Greyhound

I’ve never really visited Dulwich Village before and I enjoyed being a tourist in my own city – save for a trip to a wedding reception about eight years ago I’ve only ever seen it from the windows of the P4 bus, heading incongrously to Brixton or Lewisham. I’ll have to have a proper exploration one day, but instead I decided to carry on my stroll along College Road, home to London’s original congestion charge…

London's original congestion charge
£1 charge
Free on foot and on two wheels, but that’ll be a pound to you, sir, in your car. (It was 50p four years ago.) Built in 1789 by John Morgan, he levied a fee on people and their animals who wished to use his road. Dulwich College has carried on the charge, and the result was, at 7pm, an astonishing quiet road and the most cyclists I’ve seen outside central London. Leaving the private road and heading back onto Southwark Council tarmac, it was striking to plenty of car drivers sneaking out of a side road to dodge the toll.

College Road also contains some rinky-dink 1960s fonts on street signs and a tremendous name for a road…
Nice 1960s font
Great Brownings

After all that, it was a rude shock to return to the real world at Crystal Palace Parade. At the bus stop, a woman shouted unintelligble abuse at a driver with loud music blaring from her car… then spat in her direction twice. I came back to the bus stop to then find her waiting for a number 137 bus to arrive, then yelling at the two people stood next to her and storming off. After the delights of SE21, it was a pleasure to get out of SE19. But I’m heading back in that direction on Friday afternoon, when I pick up the Capital Ring again. I’ll bring my waterproof for the bus stop…

One comment

  1. I had a lovely afternoon/evening in the Crown and Greyhound last spring, a huge garden at the back full of sports utility prams. Well worth a pint.

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