A few weeks ago we posted about the amount of green-space in London.
But not all green-space is created equal. In this post we will reveal the hidden gems of London’s parks. Our guest author, Fiona Hansell, will take you on a tour of her favourite parks in Southwest London.
The greenest spaces have got to be found along the river. Bishop’s Park by Craven Cottage (Fulham football ground), has a recently renovated children’s play area and boating lake. Next door, Fulham Palace, the traditional seat of the Bishops of London, features a newly restored knot garden and a museum within the palace itself.
Across the river lies Putney Heath. Here, old orchards have been left to grow wild and Beverly Brook wends its way towards the Thames. Keep the river bank on your right and you’ll soon join the towpath by Hammersmith Bridge and stumble, almost by accident, across the Leg of Mutton reservoir and nature reserve in Barnes.
Just next door is the WWT London Wetland Centre, a haven for migratory birds from all over the world. With a great Visitors Centre and hides around the lakes, it’s a fun day out for all the family.
Here, we swing away from the river, head further south, and are confronted by yet more green space. In fact, you can walk from Wandsworth to Richmond almost entirely on common land, taking in the functioning windmill on Wimbledon Common as you go.
If you like a spot of golf then you’re in the right area – there are two golf courses within a stone’s throw of each other; the London Scottish Golf Course and the Richmond Park Golf Club.
Keep walking and you will eventually come to Richmond Park itself. At 955 hectares (9.6km2), it is the largest park in London, and a must for nature lovers. Originally a Royal hunting ground, herds of red and fallow deer can still be found there today.
The park is easy to get to even if you don’t live in the area and has plenty of parking. It attracts millions of Londoners a year and is very popular with trail runners and cyclists. However, it’s so large that it’s easy to lose yourself amongst the ancient trees, with only the tower blocks in the distance to remind you how close you are to central London.
Just outside the park, on the side of Richmond Hill are the little known Terrace and Buccleuch Gardens. They are formally listed in the English Heritage Parks Register and boast newly restored glass and summerhouses. The view from the top of the garden makes a visit well worth the climb…
Carry on down the hill and you will reach the sweeping expanse of the Petersham Meadows. This land was originally part of the Ham House estate in the early 17th century and there has always been a herd of cows grazing there since that time. Nearby Petersham Nurseries has a fantastic café serving lunch and afternoon tea.
Double back on yourself and follow the river. Eventually you will come to the famous Kew Gardens. With multiple greenhouses and a world-renowned seed bank, this is a horticulturalist’s paradise. The best time to visit is during the spring, when the orchid exhibit is in full bloom and the lawns are carpeted with crocuses.
Almost directly across the river from Kew, but attracting far fewer visitors, is Syon House. Set in picturesque gardens, with spectacular landscaping, this truly is one of Southwest London’s hidden gems.
Follow the river back towards central London and you will find Chiswick House and Gardens, again an oasis of landscaped beauty and cultural heritage.
The banks of the Thames are all part of the Thames Path National Trail and the footpaths are a great way of discovering new parts of London. Keep following the river and you have come almost full circle, back to Bishop’s Park where we started.
Now all you have to do is Find Properly and a property surrounded by green space could be yours….