London’s 5 best parks
Despite its image as a seething metropolis, London is actually full of green spaces. Whether it’s the 8 Royal Parks of London, which cover a total of 5,000 acres, or the multitude of council-owned parks and garden squares, visitors can always find somewhere to relax and temporarily escape the bustle of the city.
Best for a picnic
Hampstead Heath is a favourite spot for picnics among London’s young professionals – and it’s easy to see why. The Heath’s rolling fields provide a taste of the countryside that is a far cry from the manicured lawns and formal planting of somewhere like Chiswick House.
On sunny days, the Heath also provides the ultimate way to cool off in the form of three swimming ponds. Divided into men’s, ladies and mixed, the ponds have been used by Londoners during the summer since 1860.
Best for views
Just up from the bustling Regent’s Park lies Primrose Hill. The views from the top of the grassy knoll are wonderful, and the nearby Melrose and Morgan deli is great for fending off hunger. However, for the ultimate focal feast, travel east to the Thames Barrier Park, which combines stunning gardens and a view of the Thames Barrier’s flowing water. The Park only opened in 2000, meaning it remains relatively undiscovered (compared with somewhere like Finsbury Circus, which became a public park in 1606).
Best for sports
Covering approximately 350 acres, Hyde Park is undoubtedly Londoners’ favourite place to indulge in outdoor pursuits. Whether it’s horse riding, bowls, rollerblading, tennis or putting; the park is perfect for sports of all kinds. In the aptly named ‘Sports Field’, games of cricket, football and frisbee are frequent sights.
Best for flowers
Richmond Park is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve. It’s the largest of London’s Royal Parks and the perfect place for spotting wildflowers that can’t be seen anywhere else in the city. These include heath bedstraw, harebell, germander speedwell, mouse-ear hawkweed, tormentil, bluebell and heath speedwell.
Best for a date
For those who’ve just met someone through an online dating site such as jazzedfreedating.co.uk, a park-based date is perfect for a first meeting. Situated in the City of Westminster, central London, St. James’s Park is easy to get to and easily navigable once there. It’s the oldest of the Royal Parks of London and provides plenty of romance-inducing features and talking points.
Pictures – Thanks to
Ewan Munro, http://www.flickr.com/people/55935853@N00/