I can’t believe this is my first time in Peckham. I’ve meant to explore this London neighborhood for years, and I’m only now getting around to it. I’m glad I’ve finally taken the time, though, because there are so many things to do in Peckham that it’s going to take a few trips to pack them all in.
Things to Do in Peckham
You might be wondering about Peckham. I certainly was. A few years ago people started talking about this part of south London. Then they started moving here. Then they began calling it the new Shoreditch. Then everyone wanted to be here. Including me.
It’s taken a while for me to hop on a train and come down here. Then again, it’s only 13 minutes from Victoria so I don’t know why I’ve been so remiss. But now that I’m here I can’t wait to see what all the excitement is about.
Once off the train, I find myself in a graffiti-marked area outside the station with a dark tunnel leading to the street. I start to wonder whether Peckham is as great as I’ve heard. But when I emerge from the tunnel I see two chi chi bakeries and a Jaguar pulling up to let a yummy mummy out to breakfast at one of them.
Explore Bellenden Road
Next comes a hipster strolling down the street, and before I reach the junction I’ve caught glimpses of a well-heeled couple and high-end baby gear. If you know Peckham, you’ll probably have guessed I’m now on Bellenden Road.
This strip is the epicenter of the neighborhood’s regeneration, and the chic restaurants and design-led shops show it. There are even bollards by sculptor Antony Gormley here. Taking in this road is first on my list of things to do in Peckham, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Walk Down Rye Lane
When I’m done exploring, I weave through the residential streets to get to Rye Lane. On the way I find rows of brick houses, plenty of colorful doors, and lots of lanes to peer down. Vintage cars add color to front gardens, and as I approach the high street I can hear music playing from some of the shops.
Rye Lane has lots of grocers with fruit and vegetable stands spilling out into the streets. The scents of fish and butchered meat mingle with with the sounds and colors to create a sensory experience a world away from Bellenden Road. It’s refreshing to see that gentrification hasn’t taken away the all the neighborhood’s traditional character.
Meander through Peckham Rye Park
From Rye Lane I make my way down to Peckham Rye Park, a huge green triangle at the south end of the neighborhood. Along the way I spot more new cafes and brunch places, and when I arrive I’m met with a wide expanse of park and a long tree-lined path.
After a walk in the park, I travel north again. I weave up through more side streets peppered with street art and some of the most striking contemporary architecture I’ve seen in London.
Hit the Bussey Building and Copeland Park
Eventually I come to the Bussey Building and Copeland Park. This complex is accessed through a narrow tunnel that makes me feel like I’m being transported to a cooler dimension. Once through, I find myself in an industrial world full of art spaces, shops, yoga studios, and even churches.
Behind the building is Copeland Park, where I find a lot more things to do in Peckham. There’s a vintage market on, and I browse the clothing and antiques for a while.
Next door a workout class is taking place in a warehouse with wide open doors. On the other side is a wall covered in bright African-inspired street art patterns, and at the end sit a chic Italian restaurant and a double-decker bus with a pizza sign.
Visit the Library and Surrey Canal Walk
There’s a lot to take in here, and I spend time absorbing the mix of old and new before heading back out to Rye Lane. Turning north, I walk to Peckham Library, one of this London neighborhood’s striking contemporary architectural features.
Next to it is Surrey Canal Walk, a path along what was once a canal but is now a green space. Leading to Burgess Park, it’s lined by lamp posts with women’s high heeled shoes tied on near the tops (is it art?). It’s the northern end of the area’s answer to the southern end’s Peckham Rye Park, and offers a good way to escape the urban bustle.
Eventually I too must escape. Well, not escape so much as head home. I hop back on the train to central London, happy to have finally visited this place and found so many different things to do in Peckham. Now that I know how much is here, I have a lot of reasons to keep coming back.
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