So you want to 'escape the city' and feel like you can catch your breath, hear the birds, and run through open spaces that are not clogged with people? Head south of the river to what was once the Great North Wood, lying only 4 miles (6km) south of Central London.
Sydenham Hill Wood and Nature Reserve can be found in an area filled with plenty of relaxing places to go to if you need to spend time away from the city. It is part of the Green Chain Walk which crosses part of South London taking in some interesting and historic places.
To find Sydenham Hill Wood and Nature Reserve especially if you are nearby in the expansive Crystal Palace Park, you can follow these directions, which will give you a route that is easy to follow and not too taxing on the calf muscles.
Leave the park Crystal Palace that is, at the top north corner, coming out onto Westwood Hill. Head up towards the small roundabout and crossing, cross toward Sydenham Hill. Following this leafy road on foot or by bus, you will pass a mix of flats and large houses amongst the trees. The road curves right, past the entrance to Crescent Wood Rd, near the exit of this road is a small gate to Sydenham Hill Wood. Follow the path down the steps and you can now say you are in ancient woodland. The path is marked with a Green Chain Walk post directing you along the disused rail line. The Path to Cox’s Walk footbridge.
There are lots of dog walkers here but the atmosphere is wonderful with its deciduous trees, an important site for birds, bats and stag beetles! Leaving the footpath is not a problem and you may come across “The Rockery” a folly for an ornamental garden built in 1864. It can get rather muddy but it is fun to walk in the same place as the famous painting of Lordship Lane Station by Camille Pissaro.
The proximity of this remaining piece of woodland to other ‘quiet’ places to escape to, makes for the perfect destination if you want to have a day out of the city but without making too long a journey.