Downham Playing Fields in Lewisham

Downham Playing Fields in Lewisham was created during the development of the Downham Estate as a leisure facility. A century later it still fulfils that function. The fields are a pleasant walk, and have the added bonus of the Spring Brook, a tributary of the Ravensbourne River.

Downham Playing Fields today

‘…Downham playing fields has 2 adult pitches, 3 7-a-side and 1 9v9 pitch. There is a pavilion hosting 8 changing rooms…’. (https://www.openplay.co.uk/view/1251/downham-playing-fields/) The pitches were not marked out when I visited and so I could enjoy wide green views, and then visit the ‘secret’ wilder area alongside the Spring Brook.

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Downham Playing Fields between Downham Way and Glenbow Road

Downham Way is a busy main road but it still has the trees which were planted when the estate was built – if only all the other roads were just as green! Sadly cars have taken over and are ‘planted’ outside the houses instead of trees. A narrow opening between the houses leads to the playing fields. There is a second entrance from Downham Lane, off the main road. This section of the fields is open and pleasant and it is a pity that people have left so much rubbish behind.

Willow trees in Downham Playing Fields
Willow Trees near the Spring Brook
Rubbish in Downham Playing Fields
One of three piles of rubbish

Glenbow Road to Valeswood Road section of Downham Playing Fields

A quiet road separates the two sections of the fields. In this section there is a children’s play area and the changing rooms and facilities.

Glenbow Road entrance to Downham Playing Fields
Entrance from Glenbow Road
The playing fields
Looking towards Valeswood Road
Children's play area in Downham Playing Fields
Children’s play area

The Spring Brook

This little brook runs down one side of the fields, and it is a short tributary of the River Ravensbourne. In 1999-2000 the river was ‘restored’ and returned to a more natural state. It is very short – only c.1.6kms – and joins the River Ravensbourne near Bamford Road, I believe.

Bridge over the Spring Brook in Downham Playing Fields
A crossing over the Spring Brook
Path alongside the Spring Brook
Path alongside the Spring Brook, away from the playing fields themselves
The culvert under Valeswood Road
The culvert under Valeswood Road

Flowers and grasses on Downham Playing Fields

The edges of the stream look very pretty in July, with pink, yellow and white flowers. And the blackberries are starting to turn as well!

Looking towards Glenbow Road, with the stream on the right, in the trees

Trees

There are some interesting trees alongside the Spring Brook: willow, alder, lime, beech, and, I believe, a Caucasian Wingnut

Willow trees in Downham Playing Fields
White Willow trees
Some form of Acer?

And something really curious – the Caucasian Wingnut with long, hanging racemes of seeds.

Caucasian Wingnut tree

Downham Playing Fields in Lewisham is a large, flat area of grassland hidden behind busy main roads. And there is the added pleasure of the Spring Brook, a small tributary of the River Ravensbourne. The Fields are fenced and locked at night. This is a good place for a short walk!

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