Walking with: William Blake, South London- Part One


Part One: Peckham to Forest Hill

Duration: one hour (at my speed and just walking)! With all these metropolitan walks, my aim will be (as much as possible) to avoid main roads and to follow parks and other green spaces.  You will find a London A-Z invaluable as a supplement to my (hopefully!) clear instructions (or if you deviate from my recommended route!).  This first route is deliberately short and easy, as well as revealing some of the lesser known delights of some South London suburbs.

Introduction: Blake preferred the rural regions to the south of London and, with his wife Catherine, went on extensive and ambitious rambles around Surrey from his home in Lambeth.  I am a great admirer of Blake as a poet and as an artist- see my related postings on my other WordPress blogs, johnkruseblog and britishfairies in which I examine aspects of his personal mythology and his politics.  This first walk follows the first part of one of William and Kate’s rambles from the city of London south to rural Croydon.  It starts at the scene of one of his first mystical visions.


sculpture by Morganico on Peckham Common- photo by Ian Taylor

The walk

The start point is Peckham Rye station on the London Overground.  If you want to fuel up before you set off, there are lots of pubs, cafes and restaurants in vibrant and cosmopolitan Peckham, especially the excellent Persepolis.  Coming out of the station turn right down Rye Lane and continue southwards.  At the end of the shops you will bear slightly right into Peckham Rye.  Cross the road here onto Peckham Rye Common.  Continue in the same general direction across the Common and then into Peckham Rye Park.  The common is a very attractive area of open grassland with chestnut avenues; William Blake experienced his first vision at Peckham Rye when he was a boy, seeing angels with dazzling wings in a tree there.  He was nearly beaten by his father for telling tales, but his mother was impressed by the sincerity of his account.

Cross over Strakers Road (there are a cafe and toilets here) and enter Peckham Rye Park.  This is very pleasant with an arboretum, Japanese garden, pond and open areas.


Aiming in a broadly south/ south-westerly direction- sort of straight on from Rye Lane, you should reach the exit from the park at the junction of Colyton Road, Peckham Rye and Forest hill.  Turn left and follow Forest Hill, past a short shopping parade.  We’ve been rising steadily since we stepped onto the Common, but the road is now noticeably steeper.

PR park


After a quarter of a mile, you reach Camberwell Old Cemetery on your right.  Enter and follow the access road on the left that curves around the edge.  This will bring you out in Wood Vale.  Turn right.



  1. you can follow Wood Vale, a pleasant wide residential road with little traffic, as far as Lordship Lane, at the corner of the Horniman Gardens; or,
  2. at the entrance to the cemetery you will see a sign stating that you are now on the Green Chain and that it is 0.75 miles to the Horniman Museum and 3 miles to Crystal Palace.  To stay on this walking route, on exiting the cemetery at the intersection of Wood Vale with Langton Rise, follow this latter road over Wood Vale and to its T junction with Westwood Park.  Turn right and follow Westwood Park to its junction with Horniman Drive.  Turn right again and you will soon reach a pedestrian entrance to Horniman Gardens.  You can walk through here to Lordship Lane but you can also enjoy the facilities of the Horniman Museum and gardens.  There are cafes, toilets, the museum itself and stunning views north over central London.

Image 003

End of Part One: your options now are to turn left outside the museum and to walk down to the overground station at Forest Hill; to catch a bus north or south outside the museum or to continue on Part Two of this walk (details to follow).


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