Wednesday 30 May 2007

A park and a half

In the course of researching a future post, I found myself wandering through Brookmill Park between Deptford and Lewisham on a rainy weekday. I rarely get chance to go through the park - and I'm usually on my bike when I do - but all the same, I've long thought of it as a real little gem.

For me, it's a park and a half although in real terms it's barely half a park when you look at its dimensions! It straggles along between Brookmill Road and the Ravensbourne River, from the site of the old Thames Water station to the Elverson Road DLR station. It averages about 100m wide, at a guess, is squashed between a busy road and the DLR line, and yet it manages to feel like a really secret, special place away from all the hustle and bustle of London.

One of the main things it has in its favour is that it is not a very well-used park. People pass through it on the way from the DLR to St Johns or Deptford, but they rarely linger. Much of the side of the park that faces the road is protected by a wall or hedge, and the other side where the Ravensbourne flows is gloriously overgrown, lending it a real feeling of sanctuary. The park itself has a formal garden area with benches, pergolas, and a fountain; this leads through flower gardens to the modest children's play area, which in turn gives onto the pond, currently rather overgrown and murky-looking. The remainder of the park, which narrows down towards Elverson Road, is dominated by the river banks, which are left to grow wild, home to many native tree species including elder, currently heavy with flowers. This is my favourite bit, and the place I generally spot the best birds. I've seen goldfinches on the seeding grasses in late summer, herons, various wildfowl and even kingfishers. The fact that the river is quite sheltered and set back from the path makes it ideal for the local bird life.

Today in just a quick visit I saw mallards, the ubiquitous moorhens, a glamorous mandarin duck, grey wagtail, young robin, and a family of young great tits being fed by their parents.
Star spot was this beautiful heron; I caught sight of him just as he was trying to stalk into the bushes on the other side of the river. We both stood still and eyeballed each other for a few minutes while I fumbled with my camera, then I left him to his fishing and moved on.

At the end of the park you see the real contrast; two views, both taken from the bridge over the river but in opposite directions.

If you get chance to go down there (and assuming you get better weather!) look out for the mysterious little footpaths that lead off up the raised area at the end of the park, and down to the river banks. Get a different view on Deptford!


Anonymous said...

It's a lovely park, isn't it? And its lovely to cycle through on a sunny morning.
Great shot of the heron - maybe its the same one that ate all of the frogs in my pond last month.

PS I like your blog - its now on my favourites list for regular viewing. Ta.

Andrew Brown said...

I like it too whenever I get down that way. It's a Green Flag park too (one of six in Lewisham).

Anonymous said...

I also enjoy my daily cycle through Brookmill Park, especially seeing the herons. Glad to see that some improvements are being made to route 21 which runs through the park - the bars to stop motorbikes are being removed, which will mean I will no longer have to lift my Brompton over the mispositioned bars near Deptford Bridge DLR and parents with pushchairs, those with wheelchairs etc might stand a bit more of a chance of getting in. Hopefully the park won't become overrun with motorbikes. Other parks don't, hopefully Brookmill Park won't either. A few more painted cycles on the green path would be useful too and are hopefully coming. Might deter pedestrians with headphones on from walking in the cycle lane and remaining completely oblivious when you politely ring your bell!

DDKK said...

Yes Sue, I've been caught out by those silly bars before - it's quite an art to get the pedals in the right position to get through without injury - and if you've got a pannier on the wrong side..forget it!

Hi Steve, welcome - and welcome back, Andrew!

Anonymous said...

Hi i have never been to that park but i just thought i would add my comment. i dont live near a river but i regularly see yellow and grey wagtails. i dont know what that means as i always thought they only lived near water.

DDKK said...

hi anonymous

you often see wagtails near water, but not exclusively. And they can fly, after all! Yellow wagtails are summer visitors, but grey wagtails (which are confusingly grey AND yellow!) are here all year round. Both species are regarded as 'amber' status by the RSPB (under threat).

Anonymous said...

I'll make sure our people see your positive comments about Brookmill Park. Thanks. All the best, Nigel