Sydenham Cottages Nature Reserve in Grove Park is a little area of wildness which you can access from Alice Thompson Close, off Marvels Lane. The nature reserve hides away alongside the River Quaggy and you can easily miss it as you drive past on the main road. But do stop. Park your car in Alice Thompson Close, or catch a bus which stops in Marvels Lane, and look at the reserve, or even wander down some of the Capital Ring Path.
Sydenham Cottages were originally built for farm workers and date from the early 19C. They face the nature reserve which has taken their name. One of the cottages is nurturing ring-necked parakeets!
Sydenham Cottages Nature Reserve in Grove Park
‘…Sydenham Cottages is a small nature reserve running alongside the river Quaggy and once formed part of a water meadows system. Much of the site lies in a former oxbow lake where a meander of the river became cut off to form a crescent shaped lake which gradually silted up.
There is little trace of the wetland remaining on the site and the river flows through a concrete channel, which formed part of the flood alleviation scheme following the 1968 floods.
The land was then used for allotments but these were eventually abandoned and the land went back to semi-natural grassland and developing scrub…’.Lewisham Council
The River Quaggy has made its way here, in-between the houses, from Chinbrook Meadows where it has a freer existence. In Chinbrook Meadows the course of the river has been landscaped to accommodate flooding by taking it out of concrete channels. But here, alongside the nature reserve, the river still runs inside concreted banks between Sydenham Cottages and the Sports Ground. However, there is discussion about how the river could be made more natural, as in Chinbrook Meadows. The Capital Ring Walk is on a path outside the reserve, between the river and the sports grounds.
One of the River Quaggy tributaries, Grove Park Ditch, drains into the river about halfway along the Nature Reserve. (Read RunningPast for full information!)
Sydenham Cottages Nature Reserve in Grove Park is a wild spot, small and tangly, and quite charming because of that. Do pay it a visit!
- Lewisham Council: https://lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/openspaces/nature-reserves/sydenham-cottages-nature-reserve
- Restoring the River Quaggy: https://qwag.org.uk/river-quaggy/restoring-the-river/
- Grove Park in WWI: http://lewishamfww.wikidot.com/grove-park-in-the-first-world-war