The other week I went for a walk around Maryon Park, not to be confused with Maryon Wilson Park which is an adjacent but separate park in Charlton. The park is here and is probably most famous for being used in the film Blow Up (which I've not yet got around to watching).
I'd walked around the west side of it before but not the east and I was pleasantly surprised, it's a really rather lovely place. It is, perhaps, a bit small but it's very green and it feels very secluded and a million miles away from the built up area that it's in.
One special area in it is Gilbert's Pit which is on the west side. It's one of the disused chalk and sand quarries that used to fill the area. The pit was used up until the late 1930's, the sand from it was apparently mostly used for making glass. After the war the big pits were gradually filled in, they used them to hold rubble from the bombing of London. I believe that Charlton's Stadium might be built over another such pit. If you ever buy a property around here and you have an environmental survey done you'll be warned about "landfill". Rather than being a dumping ground for rubbish as you might presume that term means as far as I know it's referring to the filling in of those pits with that rubble.
Why is the pit special?
Well they cut down into the earth and in doing so revealed the layers of soil, rock and sand that make up the geological history of this area. Due to that it's a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). One of the things that it shows it that Charlton used to be covered by a warm tropical sea inhabited by, amongst other things, sharks and later by crocodiles.
If you look carefully at some of the exposed cliff sides you can see those layers quite clearly, it's really rather interesting. There's boards up that will tell you all about what you're looking at.
So basically it's all really rather good and quite a nice little hidden gem. It could do with a tidy up though, the paths to the pit are a bit overgrown with nettles and there's litter there too that's been there for years, in particular there's what looks like a bike saddle on the other side of the fence protecting the cliffs that I remember from when I first went there over a year ago.
Oh and if fossils, sharks and crocodiles weren't enough the Romans were there too. On the hill in the park they've found traces of a Roman Fort and a settlement.
The hill on the east side of the park, the trees really do make you feel quite secluded.
The tennis courts on the east side.
Gilbert's Pit, the west side of the park.
The view from the hill that separates the east and west sides of the park. I think it's around here that the Roman's had a settlement.