Countryside Greenwich (1)

Given the sunshine’s not going away (though it was bloomin’ chilly last night, wasn’t it – I had to wear my extra-thick 18thC nightshirt and keep my tricorn on in bed…) I thought I’d start the first in a new occasional series – Countryside Greenwich.

Amazingly, all over town – just away from the main roads – there are any number of little lanes which, if you had been taken there blindfolded, you’d swear were in the middle of the countryside. Little unmade roads, overhung with leafy trees, back-lanes with high hedges, often concealing some enormous houses that the rest of us don’t even realise still exist. Sadly I don’t know – and am not aware I have ever met – anyone who lives in them.

Some of them are more glamorous than others – but in this series I’m going to celebrate ‘em all – we need to look after our little secret streets. Shady hollows, narrow “roads” not wide enough to take a bike, hilly paths over the heath and passageways that look as though they’re private roads. They’re often not.
Some are marked on the map, some aren’t. If they have names or directions, I’ll give you them, if they don’t then I may try to work out how to use the GPS thingy on my mate’s phone.

We’ll start gentle today. Most people know this one – after all, it’s one of the official entrances to the Park. But I love going through Crooms Hill Gate as it feels ever-so-slightly ‘naughty.’ Up in the South-West, just north of the corner, the iron gate leads through the old wall into Swanky Greenwich.

This is the view to the right – looking down someone’s drive. I remember that house being up for sale not so long ago and enjoying not a few little fantasies about living there. There’s not much to be seen that way – too leafy.

But look at the official path – how cute is that?

I took this pic in May last year, just after a rain storm and it was just – well – perfect. I love the fact that this is official – and yet somehow secret too. It meanders round to the top of Crooms Hill beside some lovely old houses, all red brick and stucco, past high walls and iron grilles that offer tantalising half-views of secluded gardens and Other People’s Lives – always fascinating…

Of course, sometimes (very rarely but it does happen) we get a chance to peek inside OPLs – and the house on the right as you come out of this little lane does occasionally open its grounds for charity. I’ll let you know if I hear it’s happening this summer…

I’ve been building a list of little secret country lanes for some time now – but if you know of a particularly fabulous Greenwich pathway, I’d love to hear about it…


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