Parks and Squares in London
There’s no excuse for not staying active in London. There’s plenty of space, after all, with eight royal parks covering 5000 acres – and that’s without counting places such as Hampstead Heath and the ancient woodland of Epping Forest, which straddles the north-east London/Essex border. Failing that, jump on a Boris bike and explore.
One of the eight Royal Parks of London, Kensington Gardens covers 97 hectares and is filled with tree-lined avenues and ornamental flower beds. The 150-year-old Italian Gardens also feature a Peter Pan statue in honour of the famous tales of J. M. Barrie that are believed to be inspired by the lush landscapes. Don’t leave without visiting the opulent Kensington Palace, a royal residence since the 17th century.
Holding the title of the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks, Richmond Park is touted for its wildlife conservation. The hordes of ancient trees provide shelter for many furry residents including some 650 wild and red fallow deer and many bird species, from waterfowl to woodpeckers. Visit the Pembroke Lodge and enjoy high tea in one of the elegant Georgian Tea Rooms or stroll the Isabella Plantation, a beautiful 16 hectare woodland garden, filled with evergreen azaleas.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London is the biggest urban park in Europe and the largest created in Britain since 1878. Cycle it, swim in the Olympic pool, slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture or just walk around its 227 hectares.
In the past two decades or so the once-neglected canal system in London has been cleaned up and is increasingly popular with walkers and cyclists. One good walk is to follow the Regents Canal from East London all the way to Regents Park.
Gardens via the Thames Path
The Thames Path is 296km long from the source of the river near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton, East London. It makes for a wonderful walk, and if you do the Richmond-Thames Barrier section, it passes through the lovely Kew Gardens and Battersea Park. That bit’s just 45km. That way you get to soak up both the lovely Thames River views with its relaxed atmosphere in these parts, plus stop by the leafy confines of such green stretches.
Chiswick House Gardens
An 18th century home, styled on Roman architecture, Chiswick House is a beautiful destination to get away from the bustle of London. The gardens are classical Italianate, littered with half-hidden temples and flowered pathways to explore.