Tag Archives: Lewisham Natureman

Five Months On

It’s five months since my life was re-arranged by a Fiat Punto, while it is getting back towards normal, but is still some distance off, but still infinitely better than it might have been.

Life rather feels dominated by rehab work – near weekly trips to the physio and at least an hour a day of strengthening exercises and stretches, there is no alternative though – if I want to regain full fitness and range of movement I have to do them, and slowly, very slowly I am improving.

Running is still hard work, after three months of a relatively sedentary lifestyle my leg muscles had largely forgotten about the faster forms of pedestrianism and they grumble about every run when I start. But the running is progressing – I am coping with ‘faster’ sessions again – this week’s was a mile at just under 8 minute mile pace. At full fitness that would be around 6 to 6:15 pace, but it is real progress.

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The distances I run are increasing – my long run is now over 5 miles and will hopefully get up to around 10k this week. Hills are becoming bearable – I toiled up to the top of Crystal Palace on Friday, but it was easier than Greenwich Park 10 days before. The views from the decaying remains of the burnt out Palace were surprisingly clear, the Sphinx on the way down always seems a mixture of slightly surreal and delightfully familiar, a trip to the Park isn’t the same without seeing one of them, and a little further down the hill, but no less surreal are the rotting remains of the 1970s Concert Bowl, once a stage for the likes of the Beach Boys, Lou Reed and Eric Clapton but now dangerous and unable to be used.

And finally ….. ‘grazing’ in the dappled shade, I spotted another Lewisham Natureman stag escaped from its home borough, outside the former entrance to Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke.
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Reflections on the Rivers Ravensbourne & Pool

As I recover from an accident, I am still a while off running but my urban wanderings always seem to draw me back to my regular running routes.  

This week my still (slightly) short days at work have left me with time to follow the Rivers Pool and Ravensbourne from Sydenham back towards Lewisham.  It seemed slightly odd not running, but it gave a rather different perspective.  

Monday’s leaden skies saw me focus on the both the mural under the bridge near Bell Green – which was painted a couple of years ago, but I have never stopped and looked at – plus the more industrial and metallic elements of the route.  





Friday morning should have seen a partial eclipse and, given the juxtaposition of it with the vernal equinox, meteor showers and the aurora borealis being visible in parts of Britain, it would have had our ancestors heading for the henges and hills.  Sadly it was just 50 shades of grey in London (photo by @weareblackheath).  



The afternoon though was almost perfect spring weather – clear, mild and sunny.  I niddle-noddled along paths alongside the river, which I don’t usually use – tending to stick to the smooth tarmac – to save time on my run to work and to make intervals or tempo runs safer on the run home; it made a wonderful change.



I also spotted several reflections, which at a faster pace I would have undoubtedly missed.



Any wanderings of a fluvial flâneur would not be complete without the sight of a semi-submerged, upturned shopping trolley, one was spotted in the reflection of the Riverside Building of Lewisham Hospital – an odd cocktail of drugs on a past stay there left me convinced of the presence of dayglo squirrels in the adjacent Ladywell Fields. 



Sadly only grey squirrels were visible this week, and alongside the rivers a green woodpecker, a heron and the iridescent blur of a kingfisher was seen a couple of times.  It was two spottings of different wildlife that oddly pleased me more – Lewisham Natureman stags – one by the Ravensbourne under the road bridge in Catford, the other shyly hiding in the corner of the former Ladywell Leisure Centre site as I went from the Ravensbourne to the Quaggy catchment.



The Slow Road to Recovery

It’s nearly three weeks since I last posted about my running, the recovery from the lateral collateral ligament strain picked up during the London Marathon has been slow to say the least. Until this week that is, a week ago I was considering having a complete break for two or three weeks but over the last 7 days it finally seems to have cleared up with nothing felt in 5 runs including a tempo run today round a rather soggy Sutcliffe Park where The Quaggy was rather full and one of the paths had become a temporary tributary.

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During the last couple of weeks I have ‘discovered’ some more of Lewisham Natureman’s deer – one in Cressingham Road in Lewisham

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The second, less than a mile away, wearing the Saxon Crown of the Borough’s badge, is on an abandoned gate in a listed wall on Blackheath, which, despite being able to walk around, has its own crown of broken glass.

In Search of Mid Kid Brook

I have known about the Kid Brooks for years, having done a little on-line trawling in the past to try to understand why Blackheath Village, whose contours would suggest that it is in a river valley which extends into Lewisham, seemed to be devoid of any waterway. The ‘discovery’ of the Upper Kid Brook (now with its own post) and its course through ‘The Village’ led to the realisation that there were two other Kid Brooks and that the end of the Lower one was on a playing field I knew well.

It is thus entirely logical then to start with the third Brook, Mid Kid Brook. Its source, according to the fantastic and usually reliable Edith’s Streets, is to the east of the Brook Hospital site, possibly from a pond at the former Hill Farm, (the entrance to which was around where Corelli Road is now). The source was probably covered when the Brook Hospital site was originally developed, and a ‘gated community’ was built after the Hospital closed around where the source may well have been. One of the few remaining bits of the fever hospital site is the old Water Tower, and for the want of a more tangible source, it seems as appropriate starting point for following the course of the Mid Kid Brook.

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Maps produced prior to the development of the area show the Brook flowing westwards, parallel to Shooters Hill Road, passing the former Brook pub (now a Co-op). Certainly at that point it could not be too far away from the main road at the land falls away to the south about 30 metres away from the road.

The first ‘sounding’ of the Brook may be in the London Marathon Playing Fields – there is a large manhole cover and a sound of running water underneath. It may just be wishful thinking on my part though, given the topics the blog covers.
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Edith’s Streets has the Brook flowing parallel to Shooters Hill Road to opposite Marlborough Lane latterly behind a parade of shops, although there is nothing there to show its course in the jumble of dumped rubbish, broken fences and abandoned outbuildings. Just beyond there the Brook turned back sharply on itself at a farm that has long since disappeared – Arnold’s Farm.

The name lives on though with a sheltered housing scheme, in the general location of the farm – Arnold House. There are parallels with the modern housing at the former Brook Hospital site, between 1881 and 1948 it was the site of the Blackheath and Charlton Cottage Hospital (the Cottage being dropped just before WW1). The small dispensary is all that remains of one of a large number of hospitals on Shooters Hill Road.

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The pre-development map of the area has the Brook meandering south-west towards the current A2. The exact route is difficult to work out, although the on the ground contours would probably suggest a route that included Begbie Road, the playing fields on Wricklemarsh Road, and going behind houses on Holbourne Road and crossing Woolacombe Road just north of Dursley Road – just to the north of the former location of Manor Farm before crossing what is now the A2.

On the far side of A2 the exact locations become a little clearer, aided and abetted by a street name, Brook Road, and some gentle contours, which sees the Brook flowing under the edge of a small meadow behind St. John Fisher church and then under the church drive.

Opposite the church, on the other side of Kidbrooke Park Road, is our first sighting of the Brook – emerging from underneath the road and running alongside Thomas Tallis School.

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While it is then apparently visible as the boundary alongside the Blackheath Girls School playing fields, there is no public access. The next clues as to its course are on Casterbridge Road on the Cator Estate where the contours and manhole covers with the sound of water underneath suggest a likely route.

The next sighting is more obvious, the pond on Casterbridge Road. This is likely to be the remains of one of the former ponds from the Wricklemarsh Estate (the other being on what is now Pond Road), certainly the Mid Kid Brook originally fed a pond in roughly this location.

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The remains of a bridge over the Brook are still there and there is a clue as to the course in a street name, Brookway, after which it crosses Foxes Dale and its route becomes apparent again (although without any obvious sign of water, but oddly it is marked on various modern maps in blue) between two houses before disappearing in a sink in the garden of a house on Lee Road, as I confirmed a few weeks ago.

The sink takes the Brook across Lee Road, where there used to be a small bridge, before following a the western side of the road a couple of hundred metres to Lee Green where it joins the Quaggy next to the Lewisham side of the bridge..

Its final outflow from a pipe provided a picture of what I would have imagined happening further upstream perhaps 300 years ago – a deer drinking from the Brook. Alas it is not a real one, but it is the next best thing, and one that is rather more permanent feature – one of the delightful works of Lewisham Natureman, that appear in all sorts of odd places – a Blackheath Banksy perhaps?

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This post is a part of a series on the Quaggy and its tributaries which are brought together here.

Postscript – a later post suggests than the current course from the ‘sink’ may not have been the original one and that Mid Kid Brook may have originally flowed westwards, roughly along the line of Lee High Road, to join the Quaggy nearer Lewisham.