Pub Walk

Pub Walk:

Time: 2½ hours
Start: Forest Hill station
Finish: Sydenham station
Miles: 4.6

This is more of a pub climb than a pub crawl, snaking up, along and then down the ridge that defines the south-east London skyline.

Much of this corner of south-east London – Forest Hill and Sydenham – was common land and dense woods until recently. If Forest Hill station looks unimpressive it’s because a German flying bomb blew the tower off in 1944.

Cross the road to Brunel’s water tower formerly a 1920s cinema then a bingo hall, now a Wetherspoons pub. You’ll find a small altarlik tribute to local boy David Bowie inside.

Walk up London Road to the Horniman Museum. The Museum was given to Londoners in 1901 by tea millionaire Frederick John Horniman.

Turn left for the steep pull up Sydenham Hill. Skirt the top of Dulwich Woods; dank basements overgrown with creepers are all that remains of the large Victorian houses that once stood on the right.

Go into the Dulwich Wood House pub. The beer garden backs on to art-deco house Six Pillars. On the other side of the road is the villa where John Logie Baird invented colour TV.


Follow Sydenham Hill on to Crystal Palace Parade with south London’s Eiffel Tower, the tall television mast, in front of you.

On your right, views across London. On your left, the site of the Crystal Palace and Kent beyond. Beneath your feet are the remains of the palace’s tiled entrance hall.

Keep going along Church Road until you come to the White Hart. The food is good, there is an eccentric back yard. The pub has a vintage clothes shop inside – the excellent VintageHart (one of Time Out’s top 100 shops).

Featuring a spectacular glass and iron building, the largest fountains ever built and the world’s first dinosaur theme park, the Crystal Palace and park beneath were the wonder of the day. Among the attractions are the dinosaurs, life-size models designed and made by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins , situated by the Lower lakes.

Although the palace burned down in 1936, much of the original layout can still be seen.

Walk back to Crystal Palace Park and the Anerley Hill entrance. Wander through the flower gardens and you’ll emerge by the Crystal Palace Museum and the remains of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s water tower (the top-hatted engineer was brought in to fix the water pressure). Watch out for used condoms. Now walk through the park to the Penge Gate.

See concrete dinosaursor the grade II-listed National Sports Centre, an elegant example of early-1960s modernism. Step on to Penge High Street.

After a few yards you’ll see the Bridge Tavernunder a fine Victorian arched brick railway bridge. If it’s a bright day, there’s a very large beer garden, with barbecues at weekends and bank holidays.

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