An unusual seasonal heatwave hits London over a bank holiday weekend; it is like hitting the jackpot!
One of the chief joys of London is the numerous green spaces within the labyrinth of old cobbled streets and high rise buildings. Other major cities will have one large park but London has so many, and here are the big five to visit:
For most people who know me, Greenwich is probably my most favourite part of London. Greenwich means ‘green settlement’ in old Saxon, and this park is monumental in honouring the origins of the name. The oldest enclosed royal park in London, covering 180 acres, used to be an old hunting ground. With a deer park nestled in one of the far corners, the Royal Observatory atop the hill, the Ranger’s house with glorious rose garden and the Maritime Museum and Queen’s house nestled at the bottom, this park has so much to offer.
Nearest Station: Greenwich Mainline or DLR Cutty Sark
Best for relaxing on a sunny afternoon and taking in some culture before having an ice-cream in the shade of the bandstand
London’s most famous park nestled right in the heart of the west end. With Marble Arch on the north-west corner, to Kensington on the south-east, it covers a rectangular 350 acres. The history and rebellion of Hyde Park are reminiscent of London, with Speakers Corner being a platform for free speech since 1855 and some prominent protests have taken place in the park. Once again first used as a hunting ground, during the 15th century, the history of Hyde Park is lengthy. The original Crystal Palace resided in Hyde Park (before being destroyed in a fire), and the serpentine river hosts many sporting events.
Nearest Station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or High Street Kensington
Best for having a breather from all your shopping in central London, walk around all the memorials, pop down to Kensington Palace to wave at the Royals, before having a cup of tea next to the serpentine
Based in North West London, sandwiched between Camden at the northern border and Baker Street and Great Portland Street in the bottom corners, this Royal Park is an impressive 170 acres considering its relatively central location. Named after King George IV, he ordered for the park’s remodelling and opened to the public in 1835. The park is home to many sporting events and teams, and there is always something going on.
Regent’s Park’s most famous guests have to be ZSL London Zoo. The oldest scientific zoo in the world, and have 698 different species of animals. Sometimes you can spot a giraffe when walking northbound, and you can hear when it is feeding time.
Nearest Station: Camden or Great Portland Street
Best for animal, sports and people watching!
Boasting an impressive 2,360 acres in south-west London, this is the largest Royal Park and second largest park in greater London and one of the largest in the UK. About three times the size of New York’s Central Park, this park was opened up to the public in 1872 after being (yet another) hunting park for deer. Around 650 deer reside in the park as well as many other woodland creatures and insects.
The history of the park is prestigious, and it is now efficiently policed to ensure that all users can appreciate the beauty of the park, and not cause a stampede (like one unfortunate fellow as his dog rang off the lead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GRSbr0EYYU)
Nearest Station: Richmond
Best for deer watching before heading to an excellent local pub for some grub.
The people’s park in East London was first opened to give the massing working class population living in the area some green space to appreciate. With the network of houses growing on top of each other for many, it was their only green space since it opened to the public in 1845. The ponds became bathing pools and many east end children learnt to swim in the lido.
A Japanese Pagoda from Hyde Park sits overlooking the central pond, and many organised runs happen in the park every year. Almost connected to Mile End Park to the south, only divided by a small a canal, adds another 80 acres to this area, with a patchwork of channels intersecting both parks.
Victoria park for me represents London away from the tourists. It has a more authentic feel, a more lived in experience and feels more appreciated.
Nearest Station: Mile End
Best for walking the canals around the parks and watching the ducks in the large ponds with an ice-cold drink
What are your favourite London parks and why?