Architecture, eating, drinking - once you go Blackheath, you never go Backheath.
Why go there?
Situated above Greenwich, Blackheath is basically famous for being a big wide open patch of nothing, with an adjoining village. Fill your lungs! Not in the pond.
What’s the vibe?
Expansive. A geographical blank canvas, it’s been the subject of all sorts of speculation: maybe it was a huge plague burial site, maybe it’s crisscrossed with a network of secret tunnels? It actually used to be a kind of southern counterpart to Hampstead Heath, but the lumpy bits of the landscape were filled in with rubble after the Blitz. It has numerous architectural gems: the Georgian houses of The Paragon, the Arts & Crafts Mary Evans Picture Library, Span homes from the 1960s and the exceptional North Several development (1969). On the Greenwich side of the heath is the Ranger’s House (1723), which is open to the public.
How about a bite to eat?
Forgotten your picnic? Try posh deli and dining at Hand Made Food and top-notch Nepalese curries at Saffron Club (both Tranquil Vale). For meaty delights, head to Buenos Aires Café (Royal Parade), an Argentinian steak restaurant that also does huge pizzas. It’s the perfect place to take in the views with a glass of Malbec and something dead.
And to drink?
Go to The Hare & Billett (Hare & Billett Road), a long-established boozer near a Constable-esque duckpond. It has recently had a reinvention as a great craft-ale pub, which perfectly suits Blackheath’s rural vibe. Sit outside and talk about hedgerow destruction. If you’re on the wagon (or in a wagon), visit the world-famous, 24-hour Blackheath Tea Hut (Goffers Road) for a cuppa.
In-keeping with its 'village' tag, Blackheath is a bit short on retail therapy. There are a few nice chains (Whistles, Jigsaw), a Mary Portas Living & Giving charity shop and the very good Bookshop on the Heath for rare and second-hand volumes. Oh, and they have a farmers' market on Sundays. Of course they do.
And if I only do one thing?
Seek out the bizarre Pagoda House (Pagoda Gardens). It’s a private residence designed by William Chambers, architect of Somerset House and the Kew Gardens Pagoda. Chambers studied in China in the eighteenth century, and obviously thought its architecture was just the job for a south London street.
By Chris Waywell, who still doesn’t understand why there are so many French people in SE3. It’s nothing like France.
Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Woolwich.