London’s Shortest Season: Green Spaces In The East

Better late than never. It seems that proper summer, as opposed to ‘that warm week we always get in May’ has finally hit England’s capital. Temperatures have inched over 25 for the first time this year, and the infamous Central Line has inevitably become a sauna.

More seriously, most people imagine a sprawling metropolis when they think of London. However, it’s currently the first capital city in the world to be applying for national park status. If successful (it has a high enough percentage of green space to easily qualify), this accolade would not only prevent all London’s parks and their wildlife from being built over, but it would also protect the sacred annual picnic pilgrimage that we city slickers love so dearly. It is indeed, Pimms O’clock.

By joining my fellow Londoners in the mass exodus from our cramped, over-priced flats into the city’s glorious open spaces, I’ve realised that green is something this city does pretty well. So well, in fact, that within a few kilometres of my home, I’ve struggled to narrow down my favourites

For Saturday morning bird watching: Victoria Park

Grab a coffee and a bench and watch the breeding habits of countless species of birds at this hipster hotspot.

Migratory birds nest right next to the pavilion cafe in spring, dog walkers abound and in summer, the grass is a sought-after picnic spot. If all that still sounds too mellow, you can hire a rowboat to take you into the middle of the bird lake where Hyde Park’s old Chinese pagoda stands guard over all the wildlife.

Birds rule the roost at Victoria Park, northeast London.
Birds rule the roost at Victoria Park, northeast London.

For after work picnics: Lincoln’s Inn Fields

An ideal way of avoiding the sweaty commute at peak times, this Zone 1 haven provides sun, shade and several quirky museums on its outskirts for those who fancy an evening tipple with a difference. For more sporty types, there are also tennis courts conveniently situated alongside a stone-fired pizza café. If picnicking, make sure you grab supplies from local supermarkets before bagging your green patch!

City office workers go wild in Lincoln's Inn after a hard day's grind...
City office workers go wild in Lincoln’s Inn after a hard day’s grind…

For solitude and contemplation: Abney Park Cemetery

This is place is so peaceful I’ve dedicated a whole post to it. The old cemetery in Stoke Newington borders Clissold Park, but is a noteworthy green space in its own right. With beautiful marble tombs, quiet benches and an extensive network of shaded paths, it’s the perfect place to sneak some silent time and escape the traffic of northeast London.

For getting out of Zone 2: Epping Forrest

Start your walk into the forest from Loughton (Central Line) and follow the paths that take you into the centre. This perfect weekend stroll can be combined with some culture at the forest’s visitors’ centre or a look around Waltham Abbey, and followed by a hearty, great value pub lunch in Loughton itself.

For an urban meadow: London Fields

Every year, meadow seed is planted on part of London Fields. By July, multi-coloured flowers including poppies and forget-me-nots pepper this local haunt. There’s a lot going on for local residents here, with Broadway Market, an Olympic length lido and Regent’s Canal all within a stone’s throw. The picturesque, tall grass makes for the perfect chill out venue after a swim or a heavy brunch at Broadway market.

At London Fields, you would be forgiven for thinking you were nowhere near a large city!
At London Fields, you would be forgiven for thinking you were nowhere near a large city!

For a celebrity-endorsed nature reserve: Stoke Newington

David Attenborough recently cut the ribbon of London’s newest nature hotspot – Stoke Newington Nature Reserve. Originally built to provide additional water supplies for the city, the two manmade reservoirs here began to attract all types of birds and mammals to the area. There are already established paths through the reeds for dog-walkers, and now protected, the wilderness here can only go from strength to strength.

5 thoughts on “London’s Shortest Season: Green Spaces In The East

  1. My partner and I have just started catching episodes of the “The Great British Bake-Off” series and having never been to the U.K. (yet!), we are blown away by how green England is. I really enjoyed reading your post and will be planning more park time here in Vancouver in our Stanley Park!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words! The Bake Off seems to have taken over TV here but if it helps to advertise the UK’s good bits I’m all for it! I spent a little time in Vancouver years ago and really loved Stanley Park – it’s somewhere I’d like to write about on here actually 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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