Herne Hill, Forest Hill, Tulse Hill, Denmark Hill, Shooter’s Hill... If there’s one thing we do better than our neighbours North of the river, it’s hills. Sure, they have Ally Pally and Primrose Hill, but we’d rather a view from the South any day. Here’s our round-up of some cracking hilltop views for you to check out in South London.
Horniman Gardens, Forest Hill
Not only is Forest Hill's quirky Horniman Museum home to one of London's favourite taxidermy animals (Mr Walrus, to his friends) but the gardens are also where you will get one of the most iconic views from South London. At 282 ft, it’s easy to understand why. The Shard and typical London cityscape are visible in the distant but what is almost more interesting is the nearby Dawson’s Heights housing estate in East Dulwich, which appears like a Brutalist puzzle as you scan your eyes across the skyline. With a view like this, no wonder the gardens' resident llamas always seem so happy! Better still is nearby Horniman Drive (344 ft) - if you can find a clear view that is!
Westow Hill, Crystal Palace
You could easily miss this spectacular vista across the whole of South London -all the way to The Shard and beyond- as it's best seen from the top of some of the side streets off Westow Hill. The finest viewpoints being either at the top of Gipsy Hill (near Blue Door Cycles at 371 ft) or a little way down Cooper’s Yard (358 ft above sea level), which is well-worth exploring in itself. The best thing about this view is that you get a sense of just how high South London is. Despite being one of the most southerly points in the city, it’s also one of the highest.
Oxleas Woods, Shooters Hill
Oxleas Woods, home to Severndroog Castle in Shooters Hill, is the highest peak in London and measures in at around 407 ft above sea level. The castle –well, tower for those pedantic history geeks out there– was built in the 18th Century to commemorate an English Commodore who attacked and destroyed a fortress of a similar name in India, back when it was acceptable to do such things and commemorate people for them. Today, Severndroog Castle casts a watchful eye over grassy fields, farmland and residential areas alike, all the way into the centre of London. It’s rumoured that on a clear day you can see 7 different counties from the top of Severndroog Castle! However it’s status as having the best view from Shooter’s Hill has caused some controversy; local residents maintain that the views on Shrewsbury Lane (on the corners of Occupation Lane and Brinklow Crescent) provide far better viewing locations.
🍂Autumn throwback magic✨ Dreamy capture to say goodnight from a castle in the woods, up on Shooters Hill 🙌🏽💫🍃🍂 Severndroog Castle is small, but the 360° views are immense! 👀💫😍 #bttower #walkietalkie #cheesegrater #gherkin #canarywharf #greenwich #london #visitlondon #thisislondon #castle #skylines #londonviews #uponahill #dreamtime #goodnight
Not only is Richmond Park captivating for being home to hundreds of wild deer, you can also get stunning view from Sawyers Hill, at 200 ft above sea level. From the top of the hill, you are privy to views of St Paul’s, The London Eye, The Gherkin, Walkie Talkie and the other kitchen implements that have been peppering the skyline in recent years. From certain vantage points you can even see over to Battersea, where they are currently deconstructing and reconstructing the towers of the late-but-great Battersea Power Station.
One Tree Hill, Honor Oak
A somewhat understated and undiscovered nature reserve, One Tree Hill is home to the oak tree that Honor Oak Park is named after. It is worth the steep climb through a surprisingly rugged landscape to the top, where the tree proudly sits and where you can look out over London, at an elevation of 270 ft. It was also allegedly a favoured spot of Queen Elizabeth I, so if that rocks your royal boat, scarper up there for a picnic and raise your pinkie in salutation whilst enjoying your thermos of tea.
Blythe Hill Fields, Forest Hill & Brockley
Yet another hidden gem in the backstreets of South London is the vista from Blythe Hill, near Brockley View, where you can find even more spectacular view of London that fail to get boring. Atop the hill are vast fields popular with dog walkers, fitness fanatics and, at times, camera crews who are after an epic view over London. In the summer, local community group Blythe Hill Society even take over part of the park for their summer market which includes tasty stalls from local foodies – well worth the steep climb up!
Telegraph Hill, New Cross
Situated in New Cross and at an elevation of 148 ft, Telegraph Hill provides an amazing environment for a Sunday stroll and is a perfect place to gaze over London on Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve. The view from the hill is quite gradual, meaning you can see the change in landscape from nearby residential houses and play parks to more built-up areas as your gaze heads into town to the usual City skyline. This un-obstructed view allows you to see from the Cheesegrater, along the Thames, past The Shard and, on a clear day, even over to flats in Elephant and Castle commonly known as the Razor (the one with the turbines at the top) but officially called Strata, because all housing developments have to have futuristic names!
Walking across Greenwich Park from the south entrance and up to the Observatory, you are suddenly granted with an absolutely breathtaking view across London. No wonder it's a UNESCO Heritage Site! Despite only measuring in at 154 ft, it’s one of the closest and clearest vantage points for seeing the Thames and Canary Wharf (directly ahead), and the rest of the City to your left, in the West. The Observatory is situated here so that it can see directly up into the night skies - so if it’s a clear evening, make a pitstop there and enjoy everything that the skies above have to offer.
And if you’re not from the area, be sure to point out the laser that separates the World’s East and West hemispheres to your friends - always a winner on romantic evening walks!
In Winter, however, many prefer the view from Point Hill, commonly known as ‘the point’ for as the trees begin to lose their leaves, a stunningly bright scene comes into view with neither the pollution from nearby lampposts, nor the commotion of excited tourists to disturb your view!
Words by Sareta Puri
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