London is a city that’s famous across the world – but we tend to associate it with industry and enterprise more than we do with the natural world. Even the city’s nickname, the ‘Big Smoke’, conjures images of a Victorian urban landscape that’s a world away from the city of today.
If you want an antidote to this perception, then you need only pay a visit to one of London’s many parks and open green spaces. There are scores of them to choose from, but a few stand out as truly exceptional. Let’s take a look at them. If you’re paying a visit to London, then you’ll want to find out in advance if any of them are near you.
Getting into the city is straightforward, even if you’re based far away from it. It’s easy to catch a train into London from just about anywhere in the south and be there in a matter of hours, if not less!
The former grounds of Cope Castle, Holland Park takes its name from the Earl of Holland, whose wife inherited the property. It’s the largest park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and boasts a range of features, including children’s playgrounds, sports areas and rich, lush woodland.
Perhaps the most distinctive little corner of the park is the Kyoto Garden, which draws inspiration from Japanese-style landscape gardening. It’s just the place to retreat to if you need a little bit of fresh air and tranquillity.
Head to South-east London and you’ll find Crystal Palace Park. It’s the home, among other things, of the National Sports Centre – but there’s also a museum, skatepark, hedge-maze, and a series of dinosaur statues, which are credited with sparking interest in dinosaurs in the city. The maze is among the largest anywhere in the country: it’s a circular maze that spans 160 feet from one side to the other.
In North London’s Zone Two we find Hampstead Heath, which is a legendary eight-hundred-acre stretch of parkland. You’re just four miles from the city centre when you’re strolling through the park, but it’s difficult to tell. It’s been a favourite of Londoners for around two centuries, and it’s inspired some of the greatest creative minds in the history of the country.
Red Cross Garden
Just a few minutes from London Bridge you’ll find the Red Cross Garden, renovated by Bankside Open Spaces Trust in 2005. The garden was designed by Octavia Hill, who in the 19th century helped to found the National Trust. In the years since her death, the gardens had deteriorated significantly – but thanks largely to the efforts of volunteers, it’s now a place anyone can enjoy.