High 5: London parks and gardens for a spring stroll
With the evenings getting lighter, trees blossoming and birds singing outside the office window, it’s safe to say spring is definitely in the air. What better way to discover the season’s scents, sounds and many joys than with a leisurely stroll through a pretty park?
Bushy Park Water Gardens
Bushy Park is the second largest of the Royal Parks and is home to free-roaming red and fallow deer, the iconic gold Diana Fountain and – my favourite lesser-known secret spot – the Baroque-style Water Gardens. Recently restored to their former glory, you’ll find a pretty collection of pools, cascades and a canal in the northern part of the park.
With its distinctly rural and rugged character, Hampstead Heath is a delight with its sprawling woodlands, hills and meadows. Bring a bikini (or your trunks) and go for a refreshing dip in the beautiful bathing ponds. You’ll unwind instantly and feel a million miles away from London.
A rambling wilderness and the largest urban park in Europe, Richmond Park is ideal for a quiet walk or a picnic under an ancient oak. Visit the Isabella Plantation in April and May when the rhododendrons and azaleas bloom in this stunning woodland garden. Wander on to nearby Pembroke Lodge for afternoon tea on the terrace.
Stretching between Albert and Chelsea Bridges on the south bank of the River Thames, this tranquil park has lakes, an art gallery (The Pump House) and heaps of history. A walk along the riverside takes you to the impressive Peace Pagoda, built in 1985 by a group of Japanese Buddhists to commemorate Hiroshima Day.
This leafy expanse is flanked by Regent’s Canal and is brimming with blossom, birdsong and animal activity in spring. The Pavilion Café overlooking the main lake serves tasty, locally-sourced food from breakfast to tea-time. For a quieter spot, however, you’ll do well to head to the nearby smaller lake to picnic on a wooden jetty; it’s likely you’ll have only the ducks for company.
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