Walking the world, one trail at a time

Wild London: a secret nature reserve in Brockley

To mark National Walking Month, here’s one of my favourite inner-city nature walks in Brockley, south east London. Perfect for when you don’t have time to get out of London.

The New Cross Gate Cutting nature reserve (sometimes the Brockley Nature Reserve; always a point of contention among residents) was one of my favourite discoveries when we moved to South East London.

The reserve was previously closed to the public, but last year they started doing monthly open days allowing the public to explore this 4.2-hectare plot of land.

Skip to find the not-so-secret location.

I’d barely even noticed it before: It’s awkward position between the railway tracks and housing on Sandbourne Road makes it hard to spot, so it was a lovely surprise to find out there was a little patch of wilderness so close to home (less than a 10-minute walk, in fact!).

What I love about this walk is it’s short; around 20 minutes if you aren’t stopping to take pictures. Getting close to nature is so good for the mind and walks like this are for times when you don’t have half a day or more to spend travelling about. Plus, it’s fun to see the overground whizz past to remind you that you’re actually in the city.

The nature reserve used to be part of the Great North Wood, stretching all the way from Deptford to Penge; today little smatterings of the woodland are dotted around south-east London.

On a good day you can find kestrels hovering over the park, with frogs and butterflies closer to the ground. It was rainy when I took pals Caitlin and Rami to visit (shout out for not ditching me when the weather turned horrible!), so we didn’t see any fauna.

It’s only fair to give a plug to the London Wildlife Trust, who look after this plot and many others across the city and make it possible for the public to come and visit. If you want to find more inner-city wilderness spots, visit their website. For more info on this reserve in particular – including open days – you can find contact details here.

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Directions

Take the overground to Brockley or New Cross Gate stations.

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