Croydon holds some of the best outdoor spots in London and while the rest of us are turning our noses up, the locals are frolicking in acres of parkland and forests.
The walks I’ve laid out in Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney are relatively rigorous affairs, so I’m going to point you to a spot in Croydon where you can hang out for hours or start a major ramble through the borough.
View East London Lines – Croydon Walk in a larger map
Lloyd Park is a great place to head to when the sun is out and all you want to do is mess around with Frisbees, footballs and ginger beer; it’s also the gateway to miles of rugged footpaths that will have you entertained for most of any given day.
The scenery on the way in on the train isn’t the most inspiring, but don’t let that put you off. Get to East Croydon train station and jump on the number 3 tram toward New Addington at the stop right outside the station exit. It’s a 10 minute tram ride to Lloyd Park, but if you want to walk it, it’s a good half an hour and you’ll be introduced to the borough’s furious, high-speed motorists and its bloated suburbs. The tram service is an excellent and easy way to get around, and it’s also pretty fun too.
Lloyd Park has its own stop which is well used by people coming to and from the park and surrounding environs. It comes complete with those quintessential park experiences: ice-cream van, play area, recreation pitches and benches dotted across its perimeter. It’s a good place to rock up and chill out but it also leads on to lots of great walking space. Picnickers can find a good spot on the fat verge that banks one end of the park, while walkers can nip east toward Littleheath Woods. But whatever your plans, come prepared, as there aren’t many shops or pubs about.
If you fancy a day in the sun, Lloyd Park is a good place to forget the city. Within five minutes you’ll find peace and quiet. Although it does boast football pitches, it has a rough and ready feeling about it: more Cornwall than Croydon which is very, very nice. Ramblers game for a good wander should take a map or A-Z (beware, 3G access on Smartphones will cut out) and head toward Littleheath woods and beyond.
There are excellent chances for walking around Ballards Plantation and Crowham Hurst, though it’s quite fun to be spontaneous and see where the wind and mood take you. If you get really lost, just follow the tram track home, simple! Around this area you’ll also find Coombe Wood, which is great for families and has its own cafe. This place heaves on the weekend when day-trippers make the most of their free time by hitting the outdoors. If you’ve not plucked up the courage or made the time to visit Croydon, now is the time. It’s far more beautiful than its reputation.
Croydon Playlist: Click here for a Spotify playlist to soundtrack your walk.
It includes a good time mix of Northern Soul, Tropical Punk and Afro-Beat. You must have access to Spotify to use this feature.