Celebrated poet, William Blake famously wrote about “England’s green and pleasant land”. As a proud Londoner, Mr Blake understood that you don’t have to take a day trip outside of the city to experience the country’s verdant pleasures.
London is punctuated by more green space than most other world capitals – from its bustling centre to its suburban edge. With space such a premium, families that move here will find themselves gravitating to these pockets of leafy calm in their spare time.
With so many fabulous parks of all sizes to choose from throughout London, picking our favourite five wasn’t easy.
St James’ Park
Arguably London’s most attractive park, this is a haven for families who find themselves in the bustling heart of the city. When you’re not feeding the park’s vast range of resident birds – from pelicans to mallards – the kids will love the newly refurbished playground. Having worked up a hunger, you can either spread out a picnic blanket or head to the stylish café.
Located in Herne Hill – right next door to Brixton – Brockwell Park is a little slice of England’s rolling countryside in south London. Pack everyone’s swimwear, because it’s home to an attractive lido – which also houses a quaint café – and an expansive paddling pool for the little ones. Once the kids have finished clambering over the well-designed playground, it’s time to take in the park’s pièce de résistance: the miniature railway that transports beaming passengers along its northern edge at weekends.
If the bathing ponds don’t look child-friendly enough, there’s always the lido to enjoy on a sunny day – plus the water is a little warmer. The heath isn’t famous for its playgrounds, but what it does offer is amazing views over London from Parliament Hill, plenty of picnic space and wooded areas where tree climbing and fort making are a must. It even has its own former stately home, complete with enticing café.
London Fields is a magnet for east Londoners on a sunny Saturday, who create a tapestry of picnic blankets having strolled from nearby Broadway Market laden with tasty provisions. Families also flock here to take a splash in the glorious outdoor Olympic-sized lido.
Crystal Palace Park
They should change the name of Crystal Palace Park to Jurassic Park. This 80-hectare Grade II* listed park in south-east London is home to the ‘Dinosaur Court’ – a Victorian creation that is as hilarious as it is terrifying. When you’re not taking pics of the kids with a full-size statue of a megalosaurus, take them to the farm to pet some furry friends. At its highest point, the park offers spectacular views of the English countryside to the south; at the bottom of the hill, you’ll find a well-maintained playground and brand-new café.