Nature Reserves Of London To Really Lose Yourself In

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Nature Reserves Of London To Really Lose Yourself In

London is a city that gifts travellers from all walks of life with versatile landscapes, experiences and culture, long cementing itself as a city that welcomes all people and tastes. Whether you’re visiting from another part of the country or further afield, London is most likely associated with glittering skyscrapers, busy underground tube lines and historic cathedrals and relics, all from its near two thousand years of history. Guests of 5 star hotels in London are often situated in central locales, busy areas of the city’s tourist and business districts that provide a real sense of London life.

But when it comes to nature, tourists may be hard pressed on where to visit. The reality, however, is that despite the advertised tourist traps and staples of the royal parks, many of the best nature reserves and green spaces are overlooked by travellers in London yearning for some peace and quiet or indeed, new walking trails to explore. Guests of the Marble Arch Hotel are spoilt for choice though, as a centrally located hotel, many of the best green spaces are easy to reach via public transport or indeed, a short walk.

As a designated “green city”, London consists of at least 33% natural green space. When you factor in that London is over 1500 square kilometres large, this 33% comes to 495 square kilometres, a huge amount of forests and animal habitats to explore. Below are just a few of the fertile and vibrant nature escapes within the English capital city.

Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath

This ancient stretch of woodland is situated in northwest London’s Hampstead area and has existed for hundreds of thousands of years. Consisting of woodland, grassy plains, hills and over 20 different ponds, the Heath spans more than 700 acres and is well known for being the home of Parliament Hill, a beautiful rise of 98 metres that lead to a panoramic of the London cityscape.

Richmond Park

Heading west now, Richmond Park is the city’s largest royal park, reaching 2360 acres in size and dating back to the 18th century when it was built as a deer hunting ground for Charles I. Situated on the western meander of the River Thames, this beautiful park is a breath of fresh air for hikers, cyclists and nature lovers wanting to drink in this tranquil landscape on the edge of London’s most luxurious borough.

Epping Forest

Epping Forest

From west to deep east, Epping Forest is what remains of an historic stretch of woodlands that once flowed deep into Essex. Brimming with ponds, lakes, animal life and hiking trails, Epping Forest is easily reachable via the Central Line and reaches as far into London as Leyton. Epping Forest stretches 4270 acres and has a past of Roman encampments, Boudicca-led rebellions and hunting lodges for Queen Elizabeth I.  

London Wetlands Centre

The only nature reserve in London that’s ticketed, the London Wetlands Centre is easy to reach from Montcalm luxury accommodation in London thanks to its location in the Fulham and Putney areas. This beautiful 100 acre plot of nature reserve was once a series of Victorian era reservoirs, but was bought by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the early noughties as a habitat for birds and animals. Whilst here, you can see otters, exotic birds and many migrating species that nest or visit the area for its fertile marshlands. Voted Britain’s favourite nature reserve in 2012, the London Wetlands Centre is child-friendly and offers a wealth of educational resources for visitors.

Walthamstow Wetlands

The Walthamstow Wetlands are part of a series of reservoirs and reserves that incorporate Tottenham and Hackney Marshes, the lowest part of the large Lee Valley that runs through East London, Essex and Hertfordshire. The Walthamstow Wetlands have been preserved as a natural habitat for many types of wetland birds including warblers and grey herons. 

Highgate Woods

Highgate Woods

With excavations in this north London green oasis indicating that human settlements have existed here since before the 1st century, these historic woods are an historic enclave for springtime walks and summer picnics. With ancient trees and easy access to Hampstead Heath, this northern splash of greenery was once part of the ancient Forest of Middlesex, which once spanned over London, Essex and Hertfordshire, providing it the same origins as Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath. 

Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve

Made up of a triangle bounded by three active railway lines, the Gunnersbury Triangle is a small pocket of reserve for animals including frogs, newts, waterfowl and mice. Easily reachable via the Chiswick Park Underground Line, Gunnersbury Triangle may only be 6 and a half acres, but it packs in a lot of nature into its beautiful Overground and District Line bounded space.

Wimbledon Common / Putney Heath

Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and Putney Lower Common are all part of the same woodland, open space and sporting grounds. In total, they come to 1140 acres and have a history dating back to the English Civil War when the collective areas were used to garrison royal troops as far back as the 17th century, and saw many kings and queens review their forces on the grounds. It’s for this reason that there are a range of Grade Listed buildings on the common, including a windmill and various monuments and memorials that add character and allure to the area, so often overlooked by tourists in favour of the nearby Richmond Park. 

Lee Valley

Just a half hour train journey from Liverpool Street Station, the Lee Valley is the name given to a series of canals and wetlands that stretch into Cheshunt and Broxbourne. Here, visitors can enjoy beautiful walks around nature reserves and rivers, whilst canalside cafes and pubs provide respite after a long day of walking. 

Sydenham Hill Woods

Situated close to Dulwich in Southeast London, Sydenham Hill Woods sprawls across a small valley with a disused track of the Crystal Palace and South London Junction railway. A little over 24 acres in size, Sydenham Hill Woods is a popular local spot and enjoys a wealth of wild and plantlife.