London

The Best Green Spaces in London

When thinking about London, our minds automatically flick to scenes of polished streets, grand buildings, bustling markets and thronging thoroughfares. We immediately picture the glamour and the activity of the capital’s theatres, restaurants, shops, museums and more, yet we rarely stop to consider the number of parks, gardens, woods and riversides that weave their way through the city. In fact, London is home to over 3,000 parks that provide havens of tranquillity, perfect for stretching the legs and relieving the mind. Here are just some of the best green spaces in London.

Hollow Pond

Hollow Pond, also known as Leyton Flats, sits at the southern-most tip of the ancient Epping Forest near Leytonstone and Snaresbrook. Made up of series of pooled waterways and islands surrounded by wooded countryside, the lake provides a stunning setting for picnics and strolls. In summer, you can actually hire row boats locally and pootle around the lake. Even better, if you have a four-legged friend with you, you’ll be able to enjoy the lake’s dedicated dog-friendly beach – the only one of its kind in London. 

Epping Forest

Extending from Hollow Pond, Epping Forest is an ancient area of woodland bordering northeast Greater London. With thousands of acres of green space to explore, it is the largest natural area for walks and bike rides in the city – idyllic for all generations. So important is this woodland in fact that much of it is a dedicated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Wander its many pathways, peer into its countless ponds and enjoy the lilting melody of birdsong as you wend your way through the trees.

Royal Parks

London’s eight Royal Parks make up some of the most beautiful parkland in the city, from the 47-acre Green Park to the 2,360-acre Richmond Park. Originally used by the Royal Family for hunting and recreational activities, they today provide Londoners and visitors alike with verdant spaces in which to stroll, relax and drink in the fresh air. Particular highlights include the 400-year-old chestnut trees in Greenwich Park, the Isabella Plantation woodland garden in Richmond Park, and the resident pelicans at St James Park. 

Hampstead Heath

Only 4 miles from Trafalgar Square, Hampstead Heath boasts 8,00 acres of green space for all to enjoy whatever the season. Woven with footpaths and cycle trails, it’s one of those year-round destinations you can always rely on to provide much-needed escapism. Within its greenery-clad folds you can find all sorts of hidden treasures too, including the stunning Hill Garden and Pergola, bathing ponds, Keats House and Parliament Hill (one of the highest points in all of London at 320ft high).

Ham House Gardens

Sitting on the banks of the River Thames, the 17th Century Ham House is internationally recognised for its rare collections of paintings, furniture and textiles. That said, for nature-lovers, it will be the house’s extensive gardens that really steal the show. With both manicured gardens and tangled wilderness, its grounds set the most picturesque backdrop for leisurely strolls – be it in the multi-coloured bloom of spring or the auburn cast of autumn. What’s more, a welcoming Orangery café awaits within the grounds for post-walk refreshment too. 

 

Trent Country Park

Trent Country Park in North London dates all the way back to the Domesday book, yet is often overlooked by those searching for country trails in the city. Larger than many of the Royal Parks, it is spread out across 413 acres and incorporates grassy meadows, burbling brooks, glassy lakes and ancient woodland all within its leafy bounds – all part of London’s Green Belt. Swap the heels for some sturdy walking shoes and let your mind travel as your feet follow the network of paths. 

Holland Park

 

Holland Park takes pride of place across the former grounds of Cope Castle, a large Jacobean mansion. Covering 54 acres, it’s a magnet for those looking to skip off the city streets and pick up a more relaxed pace for a while. Adding to its appeal, the park also conceals the hidden paradise that is the Kyoto Garden. Exuding zen, this little green pocket of London features Japanese-style landscaping, tiered waterfalls, koi carp ponds, and even free-roaming peacocks. Naturally. 

Walthamstow Wetlands 

Walthamstow Wetlands is a real haven for wildlife-lovers in London. Especially popular amongst birdwatchers, this 520-acre site in the Lee Valley is home to a number of manmade reservoirs that have been turned into Europe’s biggest urban wetland reserve. Not only providing the city with drinking water but acting as invaluable grounds for resident and migrating birds, it’s one of the most important green spaces in London. Once you’ve walked all you fancy, you can later reward yourself to foodie replenishment in the onsite Engine House Café.

Hainault Forest Country Park

The 280-acre Hainault Forest Country Park is all that is left of the 12th Century Forest of Essex. Blanketed with luscious grassland and towered over by poplar, ash and ancient oak, it is the kind of place that both soothes and inspires. As well as its walking trails, this beautiful green space also has horse riding and bike trails. Offering a novel twist, there’s even a boating lake where you can hire rowing boats for an hour. While on the water, keep your eyes peeled for the resident herons who stand in prehistoric glory on the banks. 

Forty Hall Estate

Forty Hall is known as one of England's finest historic houses. Better still, it has its own 273-acre Grade II-listed estate that offers one of the most picturesque settings for country walks in London. Within its attractive 18th Century landscaped grounds are Medieval fishing ponds and streams, an ornamental lake, walled gardens, wildflower meadows, pleasure grounds and all kinds of plants and trees – including one of the oldest Cedar of Lebanon trees in the UK.

Morden Hall Park

Morden Hall Park is looked after by the National Trust and provides an invaluable opportunity to relish the greener side of the city. Located on the banks of the Wandle River in South London, its 51 acres of parkland take the place of a former deer park and offer all sorts of outdoorsy activity for visitors of all ages. Especially family-friendly, this green space in London benefits from children’s trails and seasonal events which all generations can get involved in during a luxury break in London. 

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