I originally wrote this post two years ago, a lot has changed since then, so here is my updated guide for parents in Brockley and Crofton Park. You can still read the original post here.
When I tell people I live in Brockley, I’m often asked “Where’s that?”. Brockley is a little piece of South East London nestled between Lewisham and Peckham, with Victorian streets, green spaces, parks, and good restaurants, cafes and pubs. This is our 9th year in Brockley and more recently we’ve moved to Crofton Park which is still SE4, so I’ll still count it as Brockley. Over those 9 years I’ve seen it change a great deal over that time, with the intro of the East London Line and just gentrification in general.
Since becoming a parent in 2015, and spending a year of my life during my first maternity leave enjoying the Brockley cafes and park scene, I’ve grown accustomed to it, and loved it. So, I’ve decided to write a post about this little part of South East London for parents.
There are so many parents in Brockley. They are everywhere during the day. In the cafes, in the parks or just enjoying walking around trying to get their child to sleep. I know this, as I did just that. During my maternity leave I lost count of the laps I did around Hilly Fields, and how much money I spent in the cafe at the top of park. For anyone on maternity leave or has a small child, then Brockley has a lot to offer.
There are many of these. I went with Bertie to the brilliant baby sensory in Honor Oak, although out of SE4 and in SE23, it is only a short walk or bus ride away. Kyla who teaches it is brilliant, the sessions are fun and action packed, plus it’s a great way to meet new mums.
Another fantastic weekly event is Baby Bounce or Rhyme Time that takes place in Crofton Park Library every Friday at 11am. It’s 30 minutes of singing with your child. It’s all voluntary and therefore free to attend, and the organisers are always looking for people to run the sessions, so this is a brilliant way to get involved with the local community.
There are many of these scattered across the area, some are daily and some are held a couple of times a week. We love going to Little Fishes at St Peter’s Church on Wickham Road. We’ve been going for over a year now, and I have been fortunate to meet other Mums who I would now call friends. The playgroup is on every Monday and Tuesday (term time only) from 9.30 to 11.30, costs £2.00 per child, and there is plenty of tea and coffee to go round.
The other playgroup that we have used a lot is the Telegraph Hill playgroup in the lower park. It’s on for a couple of hours every morning, and the children are free to play, and then the session ends with a good sing song, and tidy-up. The play group also has a fantastic outdoor space with cosy coupes, bikes and rocking horses which my daughter loves.
I have also really enjoyed going to the Besson Street Community Garden Playgroup on a Monday and Tuesday. It’s a lovely safe outdoor space for children to play, with it’s own little pond and wendy houses.
There are many parks in South East London, and Brockley is home to Hilly Fields. This is a lovely, well kept park that has great views towards Canary Wharf and The Shard. Like I said earlier when I was on maternity leave, I think I visited Hilly Fields on a twice daily basis with the buggy. As my daughter is now a preschooler, and in nursery during the week we often visit at the weekends. She loves the play park at the top of the park, which is perfect for children who are toddler age upwards. There are swings, slides, climbing frames and a huge sandpit (that is quite beach like).
In the school holidays it gets really busy, and I find it better to visit during term-time. An ice-cream van is pretty much parked there permanently, and it’s great to enjoy a 99 with a flake on a sunny day.
Since moving to Crofton Park we have also been going to Blythe Hill a lot. Once you climb the steep hill I think that the views here are better than Hilly Fields. Sorry for the rivalry. The play park has just has a little update and there is now fresh sand in the sandpit, as well as a few new swings and bridges to play on. We were lucky enough to visit a few weeks ago on a Monday and it was deserted for an hour…even on a sunny day. Plus at the weekends the Perlant and Press coffee van comes to visit.
Cafes, restaurants and pubs
There are many, and there has been a constant stream of new cafes coming to Brockley. For parents here are some of my faves:
Pistachios in the Park is where I spent most of my maternity leave, I dread to think how much money I spent on lattes and their chocolate Guiness Cake. This is a great little cafe to take your children to, or to meet up with your NCT group. The food and drinks are all good value too.
The Brookmill Pub on Cranbrook Road is great for children because of its beer garden. It’s safe and entirely closed off. We’ve enjoyed many afternoons here, and even had our NCT Christmas lunch here as well. The pub is also opposite a little play park, so if your child is getting restless you can easily pop out with them.
One of our favourites is The Orchard. It’s brilliant in the daytime to visit with your children, in fact my daughter oftens asks to go there for lunch. The kids menu is small but great for kids, the pasta goes down a treat. All the staff are really welcoming, and there are plenty of highchairs. It’s also great to visit in the evening (without the kids) alongside its sister venue: Brickfields. The food, wine and cocktails are excellent! (There have been far too many hangovers after evenings at Brickfields with my NCT girls).
Last but not least we are also big fans of Parlez by Brockley station. The food is great, they are really welcoming to children, and they have a selection of toys and drawings for the kids as well.
I could go on with my list of places to eat out with kids. We’ve recently enjoy many £5 pizzas during the week between 12pm and 3pm at The Chandos, and I can’t wait to see what happens with the old Jam Circus.
There are so many events that take place, but one of my favourites is Brockley Market. On a sunny day it’s great to go to for lunch to enjoy a Mother Flipper burger or a Spit and Roast Buttermilk Chicken Burger.
The Brockley Max team also put on a huge event during the first week of June which is held all over Brockley, and to end the event there is a mini festival that takes place at the stone circle on Hilly Fields. We have been pretty much every year apart from last year as Bertie was only a few days old, and we have enjoyed freshly cooked pizza, beers from the Brockley Brewery, and live music. For toddlers and children there’s face painting, and arts and crafts.
So, that’s my list of things to do, or places to go as a parent of a baby or toddler in Brockley. There are many other places to visit, but I can’t capture them all in one post.
Where do you love to visit in Brockley and the surrounding areas with your children?