I have often driven past Folkestone Gardens in the car, or whizzed by in the train, but I have not walked there until now. London Gardens Online tells me that ‘…Folkestone Gardens were created in the 1970s on the site of war-damaged housing, and is overlooked and completely surrounded by railway lines. The Grand Surrey Canal used to run past the northern end of the park from Camberwell to the Surrey Docks; it was filled in in 1972, having closed the previous year. On undulating ground, the park has grass, woodland areas, a belt of Lombardy poplars along the edge, and a group of sycamores in the centre. In the north-west is a large pond with an island with weeping willow. When it was restored in 1994, some of the pond-side plants were taken from the surplus at Hare and Billet Pond on Blackheath. The park supports a surprising diversity of plants and animals considering its size and location…’.
The entrance to the northern end of the park is marked with large stones and the railway lines which run alongside, and above, one side of the park. From here a winding path up and down the undulations leads into the park, past the pond. The central area is much more inviting than the above description suggests and clearly a lot of development work has been done since the entry on LGO in 2012. The railway bank is covered in wild flowers and there are flowering trees in addition to the poplars and the weeping willow.
Folkestone Gardens is now part of Quietway 1, a cycle path which runs from Waterloo to Greenwich. As you might expect the route passes through quiet back streets and this is certainly a quiet and unexpected haven along the way.
The Festa Cafe in the gardens looked very inviting indeed but sadly we arrived at the wrong time of day.
The entrance/exit at the southern end of the park is rather insignificant and at this end the railway lines are obvious. At this southern end of the park there is now a skate park, and a colourful children’s play area.
This small park provided a most enjoyable stroll and I am sure the coffee and snacks would also have been memorable – another time!