This capital walking guide book rises well above the ordinary

KEN TOWL pulls on his walking boots and, armed with a new ramblers’ guide book, strides on towards the Seven Hills of Croydon.
PLUS: Special reader offer with 10% discount on Hillwalking London

Guidebooks can be a bit pompous in tone. They are written, after all, by people who consider themselves travellers, not tourists. They are a tad superior to us, these people, an iota more sophisticated than the common reader.

Not this one: Caroline Buckland writes with an easy engaging style. She is a walker, just as she hopes her readers will be. The book is dedicated to, among others, “Anyone who’s ever been on a walk with me”, and starts by asking why anyone would want to walk up a hill in the first place. “For the chest-pumping, butt-firming exercise,” comes the reply, “and for the promise of a unique and stunning view – in this case to remind us what a truly beautiful city we live in.”

The full title of Buckland’s newly published walking guide is Hillwalking London: Ten High-Level Walks to the Heights of the Capital and her stylish and witty prose is hinted at in some of the titles of the walks, from “Reservoir Jogs” (Chingford and the Sewardstone Hills) to “A Royal Park and a Commoner Common” (Richmond to Wimbledon).

Unsurprisingly, the chapter that caught my eye was “The Seven Hills of Croydon”.

Only six of the “seven hills” survive today. The story goes, recounts Buckland, that Croydon’s developers in the 1960s were determined to go one better than Birmingham with its six newly minted multi-storey city centre car parks. Croydon Would Have Seven. How lucky we are to live with the legacy of such giants of urban planning.

Clear and easy to follow: the book’s maps are interspersed with a text full of just the right amount of context and historical detail

The Seven Hills walk starts at East Croydon Station and tracks the beginning of the Vanguard Way, passing the site of the demolished Fairfield car park as it heads for Park Hill Gardens.

The colour maps in the book are clear and easy to follow, as they chart the route to Lloyd Park and Coombe Park. The maps are interspersed with a text full of just the right amount of context and historical detail.

There is a nod to New Addington author John Grindrod, too. Grindrod spoke to Inside Croydon readers in April last year about his latest release Iconicon, on the landmark buildings of contemporary Britain. In it, Grindrod, an aficionado of all things brutalist, and, incidentally, an excellent writer, confesses to having himself gone on a walking tour of the seven car parks of Croydon.

Fingerposts: the Vanguard Way and the Loop get mentions in the book’s Croydon walk

Buckland’s walk ascends into the Addington Hills for a panoramic view across London from the 1960 “Croydon Millenary” viewing platform, where it joins the London Outer Orbital Path (Loop) and continues past the neglected Heathfield House and the Giant Redwood in its grounds, through the Bramley Bank nature reserve and on to Selsdon Wood (worth a visit this time of year for its spectacular carpet of bluebells).

The walk finishes via the Tandridge Border Path through Frith Wood, and across Featherbed Lane for the final climb up to New Addington, where a tram awaits to take you back home.

The book’s other walks include “Telegraphs, Beacons and Masts” (New Cross Gate to Forest Hill) which takes in Nunhead Cemetery, one of the so-called “Magnificent Seven” great Victorian cemeteries of London built in response to the Burial Act of 1852 to alleviate unhygienic overcrowding of the capital’s churchyards.

This walk also features the “Honor Oak” at the top of One Tree Hill, a small piece of the ancient Great North Wood that survives as public land (rather than yet another golf course), thanks to mass civil disobedience by Edwardian “agitators”. It ends next to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the 2022 Art Fund Museum of the Year.

Whether you walk from Brockley to Greenwich, or from Alexandra Palace to Archway (on the “Highgate Highline”), this guide will enhance your experience with anecdotes and snippets of social history as well as pointing out the best opportunities for refreshments and transport connections.

The walks range from four miles to eight and all, by their nature, will certainly offer stunning views, both urban and rural. In these straightened times it is life-affirming to find ideas for recreation that do not demand great expenditure. Not merely life-affirming, of course, it is butt-firming, too.

  • Hillwalking London by Caroline Buckland is available from for £14.99
  • Inside Croydon readers ordering Hillwalking London before May 25, 2023, will get 10per cent off the cover price. Just use this discount code – CROYDON10 – when placing your order on the Safe Haven website

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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3 Responses to This capital walking guide book rises well above the ordinary

  1. Ian Leggatt says:

    Between Bramley Bank and Selsdon Wood can be found little known Littleheath Woods ( where the informative finger post pictured can be found) which can boast the second highest point in Croydon at 163m above sea level. ‘Top’ spot, but some distance off the route described, goes to Sanderstead Plantation at 176m.

  2. Ben Hart says:

    Looks a great book with a different perspective on London walks, have bought on the strength of this article – will hopefully be able to try out the Croydon Peaks challenge over some of our upcoming bank holidays

  3. Ted says:

    Who calls Addington Hills by that name? Its always been known as Shirley Hills and I’ve lived here more than 50 years!

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