Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Green Greenwich

One of London’s most iconic views: the Old Royal Naval College and Canary Wharf from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 10 – 16 May, and this year the theme is Nature.

Nature is central to our mental wellbeing. Spending time in green space or bringing nature into our everyday lives can benefit both our mental and physical health. Whether it’s growing plants, exercising outdoors or being around animals, connecting with nature can give us a significant psychological boost.

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re giving you the lowdown on some wonderful walks and green spaces to visit in the three boroughs BLG Mind operates in: Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich.

Green Greenwich

With a name like Greenwich you might think that, despite being an inner London borough, Greenwich must have its fair share of green space – and you’d be right. There are around 300 open spaces in the Royal Borough, totalling nearly 3,500 acres of land, or approximately 28% of the borough’s total area.

The two best known green spaces are Blackheath, one of the largest areas of common land in Greater London at 211 acres, and Greenwich Park. The latter is a World Heritage Site, and its 183 acres incorporate a deer park, orchards, extensive gardens and, of course, the Royal Observatory.

Walks in Greenwich

Maritime Greenwich

Greenwich was once a critical location for Britain’s maritime history, connected, as it is, to London’s docks via the River Thames. There are countless walks around Greenwich’s famous maritime landmarks, which include the Old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and the 150-year-old Cutty Sark. This 5.63km (3.5 mile) self-guided walk from Discovering Britain will take you through Greenwich’s historic streets and up into the majestic surroundings of Greenwich Park. Get the details.

The Thames Path

The Thames Path is a 180-mile route which, as its name suggests, follows the River Thames from its source as a spring in a Cotswolds field to its majestic presence at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich. Transport for London offers free, downloadable maps of the route from where it enters the capital, including the Greenwich to East India Dock stretch. This 4.02km (2.5 mile) linear route (so you’ll need to plan your return) takes you through the East India Dock Basin, London’s only salt marsh. From one of the dockside hides, look out for cormorants, woodpeckers, kestrels and reed warblers. If the God of Twitchers is looking down on you benignly, you may even catch a glimpse of that most exotic looking and elusive of our native birds, the kingfisher. Get the details.

Charlton Park to Bostall Woods

The 50-mile long Green Chain Walk spans the fields, parks and woodlands stretching from the River Thames to Nunhead Cemetery. It is divided into 11 easy-to-follow sections, allowing you to explore as much or as little as you like. Section four of the Green Chain Walk contains one of London’s hidden treasures – Plumstead Common. First mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 (“Plumstede”), its name refers to a place where plums grow. Plumstead Common  has some of the most varied terrain of London’s open spaces, including wooded ravines and an ancient burial mound. This 5.3km (3.6 mile) stretch of the Green Chain Walk begins in Charlton Park, a large, level, grassy park boasting an array of gardens, including a sensory garden which specifically focuses on plants that can be appreciated by people with visual or physical disabilities. The park’s magnificent Jacobean mansion, Charlton House, also offers some rather nice tea rooms. Get the details.

You can download more Greenwich-based walks from Go Jauntly, the free community-based walking and nature connection app.

Accessible Greenwich

AccessAble, which offers free guides to accessible public places, recommends a number of the Royal borough’s parks, including:

Parks and open spaces to visit in Greenwich

The Visit Greenwich website offers a guide to the best parks and green spaces in Greenwich, from the award-winning gardens of historic Eltham Palace to the Gothic glory of Severndroog Castle, a tower rising out of the fairy tale setting of Castle Wood in Shooter’s Hill. It also features a guide to walking in Greenwich.

Serverndroog Castle

Directory of Greenwich green spaces

For an A-Z list of all the parks and green spaces in Greenwich, including locations and facilities, see the interactive map on the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council website.

Get involved

If you would like a hands-on role in maintaining Greenwich’s green spaces, check out the following websites for opportunities:

Volunteer at Greenwich Penisula

Volunteer community ranger opportunities at Greenwich Park

Enter our Nature Photography Celebration

A foxDo you have a photograph you’ve taken of a favourite view in Greenwich? Perhaps you have a shot of local flora and fauna you’d like to share? Or maybe you’ve got a great snap of something a bit closer to home, such as your favourite houseplant or pet.

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, we’d love you to see your photographs of the natural world. Email them to communications@blgmind.org.uk or, if you prefer to post your images on social media, tag us at @blgmind and/or use the hashtag #BLGMindWMHD to help us locate them. We’ll feature as many of your photographs as possible in our Mental Health Awareness Week Nature Photography Celebration.

Go the extra mile for BLG Mind

If you’re planning to get out and about in nature during Mental Health Awareness Week or beyond, please consider fundraising at the same time for us.

No matter where you walk, you could raise awareness for local people affected by mental health problems or dementia.

You could:

  • Walk some or all of our 13km (8 mile) BLG Mind Three Boroughs Walk, which encompasses the three boroughs we serve: Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich.

OR

OR

  • Pick your own walk, anywhere you like.

Any donation you can give, large or small, will help us carry on giving vital support to those who desperately need it.

Change a life today. Donate now online, by post, text or bank transfer.