A QWAG walk set out to discover the source of the Grove Park Ditch, a little known Quaggy tributary.
The first walk organised by QWAG in conjunction with the 4th Lewisham Walking Festival – South of the border (14th May 2006) – was a great success, being well attended and receiving plenty of positive feedback. How did the second walk rate in comparison?
The walkers ambled down the hill from Grove Park station and entered Chinbrook Meadows via the Chinbrook Road entrance. Once inside the park they are given a short introduction to the River Quaggy and the reasons behind the formation of QWAG by Ray Manchester, chair of QWAG.
Having heard the story behind the channelisation of Chinbrook Meadows in the 1930s and its recent naturalisation in 2002 the walkers traverse the boardwalk across the river and its marginal ponds. Four years on and the meadows are now a haven for widllife.
Today’s lesson at the outdoor classroom is how Sutcliffe Park was adapted to store storm water as a result of QWAG’s successful campaign to find an environmentally friendly way to alleviate flooding downstream in Lewisham. In the process a drab, suburban park has been transformed – and is hopefully soon to be declared a Local Nature Reserve.
After climbing to the Mayeswood Road entrance the walkers pause to admire the view – and to hear the latest news about Manor Park. This small, neglected park is soon to receieve a major facelift. QWAG were instrumental in getting the original plans modified to allow greater access to the Quaggy and to get a more sympathetic riverside planting scheme adopted.
The walkers take a break in Lower Marvels Wood while Matthew Blumler, QWAG’s founder and representative on the Urban Renaissance in Lewisham (URL) board, discusses the implications for the rivers in central Lewisham of the current Lewisham Gateway plans. He urges local residents ensure their views were heard at this vital time for the future of the Quaggy in Lewisham town centre.
Further down Lower Marvels Wood the unromantically named Grove Park Ditch emerges from this spring. (This photo was taken on the 10th May as the view is now obscured by vegetation.)
After inspecting the spring the walkers follow this small tributary of the Quaggy downstream to the bottom of the woods and around the edge of a receation ground. There it disappears into a pipe under a housing estate and is next seen emptying into a channelised section of the Quaggy from a hole in the side wall. Its fate is typical of many small streams in urban areas.
At Sydenham Cottages the walkers are shown, with the aid of a 1903 photo, how the Quaggy was shifted 25 metres to the south to accomodate house building in the early part of the last century. The orignal course of the river can still be traced through Sydenham Cottages Nature Reserve, the end point of the walk. The Quaggy now flows alongside in a culvert, but QWAG aim to see the river here restored and integrated into the nature reserve.