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Day Trips From Woolwich That Won’t Break The Bank: No. 1

February 17, 2013

Wake up and smell the austerity. For most of us, profligacy has run out of puff and we’re no longer partying like it’s the 1980s (probably a good thing as we’re not shoving shoulder pads into every garment nor are we getting drunk on strawberry daiquiries quite so often).

But we can still have fun.

Over the next few months I’ll be posting ideas for day trips that will get you out of the house without getting you into debt. In the spirit of this blog, I’ve designed all the trips so that you start in Woolwich. If you’re not fortunate enough to live in or near Woolwich, you may still find these ideas inspiring. Or you could simply move to Woolwich.

122: A Bus Odyssey

How: The 122 bus to Crystal Palace

Details: Catch the 122 bus at the stop just up from Woolwich Arsenal Station. Go upstairs as it’s better for sightseeing. As the bus wheezes up the hill, the magnificent Georgian facade of the Royal Artillery Barracks (1776) comes into view on your right, followed by the Royal Military Academy (1806) on your left. You’ll also notice Woolwich Common to your right. Settle back as the bus meanders through Kidbrooke, Eltham, and Lee, then skirts around the edge of Lewisham town centre. After Lewisham you’ll go through the characterful suburbs of Ladywell, Brockley Rise, and Forest Hill before eventually reaching Crystal Palace.

Depending on the time and your inclination, head for either Westow House (most mains are under £10, a glass of tempranillo will set you back about £3.65) or rekindle memories of Paris at Cafe St Germain a few steps from the bus stop (pastries are about £2 and a more substantial breakfast dish is £4-£7) . Westow House is a belter of a pub with a great crowd and a real community feel. It’s part of the Antic stable of watering holes; Antic is the driving force behind The Woolwich, the pub that’s scheduled to open in Equitable House sometime this year. If Westow House is anything to go by, we’re in good hands. See www.westowhouse.com.

Once refreshed, head out to have a stroll around Crystal Palace Park. There, you’ll find a 2.4 mile heritage trail and Professor Richard Owen’s Grade I listed dinosaurs from 1854, sculpted by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. After spending a couple of hours at the park, hop back on the 122 (back in the direction of Plumstead Bus Garage). On the return journey, alight at the Ladywell Tavern for a pint or two or to share a bottle of Chilean Cab Sav (£13.50) and, if it’s a Saturday and late-ish, you’ll probably catch some live music. Check out www.ladywelltavern.com.

Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich. On the 122 bus route.

Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich. On the 122 bus route.

Dinner note: If you’re looking for somewhere for dinner in the area I can recommend Sardinian restaurant, Le Querce, at 66-68 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill. I’ve been once and will return soon to review it properly. It’s mid-priced but well worth it if you have a bit of cash to splash.

Cafe note: I haven’t been to Cafe St Germain. I have walked past it and  thought it looked pleasant, so I decided to include it here as an option. If you know it or try it, please let me know what it’s like.

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