Though many people may not know it, London is designated a “green” city, meaning that at least 30 percent of its surface area consists of green space. Despite the urbanisation of the city centre and much of zones 2 and 3, the city has many beautiful pockets of greenery and parkland that may go overlooked by a first time guest of London hotel packages.
As well as having 8 royal parks, the city is home to a wealth of nature reserves and local community spaces, all of which have their own unique designs and personalities. Designing a park to suit everyone’s needs is hard enough already, but whether you are staying at the Montcalm Shoreditch or Bayswater hotels, you’ll be surprised to find that if you explore enough, you’re bound to stumble upon some secret square or garden.
From the pint sized to the horizon spanning, this blog will explore the best parks and green spaces in London, just in time for your summer trip to the Montcalm At The Brewery hotel.
Hyde Park is one of the most famous of the royal parks in London in part because of its proximity to many of the city’s West End attractions. Not far from the Montcalm London Marble Arch Hotel, Hyde Park runs parallel to a wealth of attractions and has its own beautiful lake, swimming lido, sculptures and monuments. The park is also home to the much loved Serpentine Gallery, a contemporary art gallery that is free to visit and beautifully designed on the border of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
In the summer, Hyde Park is home to British Summer Time and BBC Proms In The Park, two music festivals that draw tens of thousands of people each year.
Once a part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens was separated from what was once King Henry VIII’s hunting grounds back in the early 18th century, Queen Caroline had her own formal gardens designed. Though the gardens were private for a long time, they were eventually opened to the public in the Victorian era and now act as a slightly smaller, more stylised park than its big brother, Hyde Park. Adjacent to Kensington Gardens is Kensington Palace, home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Regent’s Park is teeming with tourist attractions and borders Baker Street, Great Portland Street and Hampstead. Designed for the Prince Regent back in the 1820s, Regent’s Park is a beautiful mix of rose gardens, green fields and ponds, also being the home of the world famous London Zoo, the oldest scientific zoo in the world.
Regent’s Park’s other attractions include Primrose Hill which provides one of the best views over London’s cityscape as well as the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. The latter, opened in the 1930s, is open to the public throughout the summer months and into September, programming a mix of dramas, revivals and family friendly shows.
An ancient stretch of woodland that has been a part of London since the 10th century, Hampstead Heath is one of the highest points of London and once ran along the banks of the River Fleet, which now runs under the city. Hampstead Heath consists of a series of hills, woodland trails and grasslands, all pockmarked by former reservoirs and river streams, some of which have been repurposed as natural water lidos. Make sure to visit Parliament Hill.
Victoria Park, known as the people’s park, was opened by Queen Victoria, establishing the East End of London as an integral part of the English capital. The park has developed a beautiful collection of gardens and fields over the years, all bordered by canals that run through the nearby Hackney Wick and Queen Elizabeth Park area.
Kitted out with skate parks, pagodas and ponds, the park offers visitors a serene setting for weekend walks and picnics. Furthermore, the park is home to the popular All Points East Music Festival every summer, which has seen the likes of Jack White and Bon Iver play on past lineups.
One of the oldest and most historic parks and woodlands in London, Epping Forest is situated at the east end of the Central Line and Liverpool Street Overground to Chingford. The nature reserve and forest stretches for 339 square kilometres and consists of lakes, forests and trails that have existed for thousands of years.
Historic draws to the park include the Queen Elizabeth I hunting lodge on the edge of Chingford which is often hired out as an art gallery and historical exhibit. Boudica, the druid rebel queen who was a thorn in the side of the Roman conquest of England for many years also frequented the forest, where there is evidence of Roman and native encampments and settlements.
Throwing London visitors right to the other side of London, Richmond Park was developed as land around Hampton Court Palace and was once a deer hunting park for many monarchs throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
Richmond Park is now a maze of serene grasslands, grazing deer and stunning views from King Henry’s Mound. Overlooking the River Thames, the park is easy to reach via the District Line or the London Overgrounbd’s western edges and is a must visit for any nature lover looking to enjoy a breath of fresh air.
Hackney And Walthamstow Marshes
If you’ve ever been on the Overground Line between Liverpool Street and Walthamstow, then you’ve probably travelled through the green belt of land that makes up the inner edge of the Lee Valley. Stretching all the way up to Waltham Cross and Broxbourne, the Lee Valley Wetlands have existed for thousands of years and the natural marshlands precede the city itself.
The Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes are a protected green space between Tottenham and Walthamstow and have plenty of hiking trails, picnic spots and sports grounds for visitors to enjoy, whilst the adjoining Walthamstow Wetland is a nature reserve formed from former reservoirs turned bird sanctuaries.