Running is one of the most popular ways to stay fit as it’s free, can be done anywhere and doesn’t require a specific investment or commitment. But pounding the same old streets can get tedious so here’s some recommended routes around picturesque South East London. We’ve created a MapMyRun running route for each one - simply download the app, follow the link and click the ‘send to phone’ button.
Peckham Rye and the cemeteries (4 miles)
Start at Honor Oak Park station and head west along Honor Oak Park, then take a right up Forest Hill Road. It’s a gradual hill until it flattens by Camberwell Old Cemetery on your left. Notice the cast iron gates with an intricate leaf pattern when you enter the cemetery that is filled with gothic architecture, including an astonishing chapel. Be sure to check opening hours before you head out as the gates are locked before dusk.
Do one loop of the cemetery and come back out of the same gates. Turn left and continue up Forest Hill Road past French Café Bistrot on the left, which is a top spot for breakfast and lunch. Cross over and enter Peckham Rye Park heading right to do a loop of the park that takes in the duck-filled lake and the pretty gardens in the centre. You can add additional loops to lengthen this run.
Leave the park where you entered and retrace your route without going into the cemetery. Coming back up Forest Hill Road is a challenge so will require determination to push through. If that all seems a bit much you could just always stop at the Watson’s General Telegraph for a cheeky pint!
Blackheath, Greenwich and The Thames (6 miles)
Start at Blackheath station and head north across the wide open heath – one of the flattest places to run in south east London. Cross Charlton Way and head into Greenwich Park – one of eight Royal Parks in London. Turn right towards The Wilderness, London’s oldest home to red and fallow deer. Cut back to the centre of the park up to the Royal Observatory where you can see the Greenwich Mean Time line. Head down the hill with the National Maritime Museum in front of you. Don’t leave the park just yet – go right and loop round the small lake near Queen’s House – England’s first Classical house.
Run past the Maritime Museum or cut through the grounds and head past Cutty Sark DLR station and over Deptford Creek where you can do low tide walks once a month. Follow Creek Road past The Duke pub then right up McMillan Street to pass St Nicholas’ Church where poet Christopher Marlowe is buried in an unmarked grave. Pass the new flats on Glasier Street looking out for hidden gem Münüre's Turkish café and cake shop then cross the creek and follow the road close to The Thames until you reach Greenwich foot tunnel and the 19th century Cutty Sark ship. Continue along The Thames until Park Row and head right, back towards Greenwich Park.
Enter the park and take a direct route back over to Blackheath – be aware of the hill up towards the Observatory – and return to your starting point where there’s plenty of great cafes and bars including The Village Deli and Locale. You can add more distance by doing additional laps of the heath or park.
Forest Hill to Crystal Palace Park (7.5 miles)
Start by Havelock Walk in Forest Hill – home to several boho art studios – and head up the hill. It’s a moderately steep climb to contend with but this is South East London after all! After 0.3 miles, you’ll reach the Horniman Museum on your right – notice London’s first Alaskan totem pole and the 19th century clock tower. Enter the gardens where you’ll be treated to spectacular views over London. (For more, check out our guide of the Best Hilltop Views in South London) Do a loop round the gardens, coming out on a path further West. Cross the road and head down Sydenham Hill until The Wood House pub - who do a great Sunday roast - then turn left down Wells Park Road and through Sydenham Wells Park where you might spot La Petite Bouchée French bistro campervan.
Exit South on Ormanton Road then turn right up Westwood Hill to the top corner of Crystal Palace Park. The park is quite hilly in parts and you can do less or more miles than suggested in this route. Turn left once in the park and head round the small lake past the concert platform known by locals as the rusty laptop. Continue round the eastern edge of the park and down to the former boating lake – home to the beloved Crystal Palace Dinosaurs created when the park was a Victorian pleasure ground.
After a loop of the lake head west up towards the remains of what was once the great palace then do a large loop of the park coming back down the south edge and the National Sports Centre then out by the exit at Penge West. Head north up Lawrie to Sydenham then up Kirkdale, right on to Dartmouth Road and down into Forest Hill (or cut through the back streets for a quieter, more residential run), ending by Aga’s Little Deli or Archie Parker - great spots for a post-run brunch.
Brockley to Beckenham Place Park (13 miles)
Head south from Brockley station and go left on Tressillian Road to the top of Hilly Fields – the clue is in the name – near Pistachio Coffee & Kitchen. Check out the views of London then take a fairly direct round down through the park out on Eastern Road then left towards Ladywell and into Ladywell Fields. Run south through the park and over the spiral walkway near the running track. Follow the path until Catford stations. Go under the underpass and through the Homebase car park then right under the train line into the River Pool Linear Park.
Follow the river south until you exit near Lower Sydenham. Cross Southend Road and continue down Kangley Bridge Road until you pick up the river again until the end of the sports ground. Turn right past New Beckenham and turn left up Beckenham Place Park into the park itself. Some parts of the park are quite rugged and bumpy so watch your footing, particularly if it’s wet. Head up past the house and back down then east across the capital ring, looping round near Ravensbourne Station and up the eastern edge following the river to the north of the park.
Run along the top perimeter to exit by Beckenham Hill Station. Head to Southend Lane where you’ll rejoin your outward route in Lower Sydenham. Retrace your steps until Ladywell Fields where you need to take a left at the fork by the playpark to exit on Ewhurst Road. Run up to Ladywell Cemetery which you can do a loop of if you wish, or just run round the perimeter until you get to Brockley Road where you have the final push back to the station to complete this half-marathon.
Good Luck! Words by Sareta Puri
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