In these strange times we all want to make the most of our freedom and get out and about in the fresh air while staying as safe as possible. For everyone who had a London staycation this year (most of us, right?), here are 11 amazing open spaces in London where you can keep your distance and still have a great day out.
This rambling, hilly ancient heath is surely one of the jewels in the crown of London. A wild park of woodland and meadows, less than four miles from the centre of the city. Sprawling over 800 acres it boasts spectacular views over the capital and includes three open air swimming ponds that are perfect for a dip – if you’re brave enough!
One of eight Royal Parks in London, this 350-acre park has a long history as a site of protest, and still hosts rallies and marches today. Speakers Corner on the north-east edge of the park was set aside for public speaking in 1872 – on a Sunday morning it’s still common to see enthusiasts on their soapboxes expounding their views. It’s also a beautiful park with plenty of space for picnics.
London’s largest open space, Epping Forest is an ancient woodland featuring more than 50,000 ancient pollard trees and 100 lakes and ponds. Owned by the City of London, it is often referred to as “the people’s forest” after Queen Victoria dedicated it for the use and enjoyment of all. Nearly 6,000 acres of peaceful forest make social distancing a cinch.
London Zoo (currently closed until 3 December 2020)
Take a walk on the wild side at London Zoo – open spaces don’t get much wilder than this! Enjoy a vibrant, exciting, family day out surrounded by nature. The large 36-acre zoo, nestled in the corner of Regent’s Park, has been divided into three exciting one-way trails with regular sanitiser points en-route so you can focus on penguins, giraffes and gorillas without a care in the world.
Overlooking the River Thames and home to one of London’s most iconic views, this park is an amazing mix of 17th century landscape, stunning gardens and a rich history that dates back to Roman times. Take a safe socially-distanced stroll and stand on the prime meridian of the world, Longitude Zero – which is the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Boasting central London’s largest outdoor sports area, four children’s playgrounds, tree-lined pathways and formal gardens this elegant park has lots to offer. Enjoy the scent of more than 12,000 roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens, or watch 100 species of wild bird flitting about the trees.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Built for the 2012 London Olympics, these award-winning parklands are spacious place to relax or meet friends for the requisite socially-distanced picnics. With 560 acres to explore you’ll have plenty of fresh air and space as you discover hidden artworks and surprising wildlife.
To the east of London, Walthamstow Wetlands is a vast nature reserve, set around an operational reservoir, home to rare waterfowl and majestic birds of prey. Wandering around these peaceful 211-hectare wetlands will blow away any last lockdown cobwebs. Only 7mins from the nearest tube station, there are also numerous cycling routes that lead straight into the wetlands.
This beautiful open space is full of surprises – it’s home to 694 different types of plants, animal and fungi! Offering people an escape from the city since 1963, this historic park with sweeping views is a socially-distanced treat!
The sweeping view of London from the top of Primrose Hill is one of six protected viewpoints in the capital. The summit is almost 63 metres above sea level and the trees are kept low so the stunning vista remains unobscured. There is plenty of space to take in the sights of London and enjoy an open-air picnic too.
Ham House and Gardens
Ham House remains closed but its gardens are a beautiful escape from the city. Surrounding the atmospheric 17th century house on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond, these beautiful gardens include a working kitchen garden and plenty of spots for picnicking.
Visit the hidden gem at the heart of London when we reopen later this year - book a timed slot to visit London Zoo this winter, a stonesthrow from the leafy surroundings of Regent's Park:
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