London nature walking week – in photos

Location: London National Park City*  (London becomes NPC in July 2019)
Travel Dates: 18.06 – 25.06
Walking distance: ~120 km/75 miles

Looking back to this week in London I covered around 120 km of streets and paths (140 km according to my walking app and 100 km according Google maps). Overall I visited approximately 36 parks and green spaces, walked by Thames and Regent’s Canal, passed many green squares and gardens and saw large variety of nature and wildlife.

This week helped me to really appreciate the variety of London’s green spaces and accessibility to outdoors and wildlife as well as understand the challenges of nature walking in city environment. It also provided valuable research for my walking maps.

I also met many interesting and creative people…. thank you all for inspiration!

Day 1 – Central London/Thames Path (North Bank) (21 km)

AM/noon – Brompton Cemetery and Barbican Estate
PM – From Charterhouse Square to Somerset House

Starting from Charterhouse Square, now open for public
Found a green rounded garden with seating next to Museum of London
Looking at lush foliage in Postman’s Park, quiet green space near Barbican
Walking through St Paul’s Cathedral Churchyard Garden greenery
It’s getting really wet now, so I’m hiding under the umbrella
Peeking into Middle Temple Gardens, not open for public (at least not from Thames side)

Day 2 – Central London/South Bank (20 km)

AM – Kensington/Hammersmith
PM – From Waterloo to Barbican

One of the many private garden squares in Kensington
Walkway in railway tunnel at Waterloo, South Bank

Day 3 – North London (32 km)

From Golders Hill Park to Canary Wharf

At the start of the walk by gates of Golders Hill Park
Passing the Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath 
The impressive sign in Highgate Wood gates
Entering to Queen’s Wood Nature Reserve
Walking along Parkland Walk that runs along a railway line

From here I left the path and continued in Hackney Downs

Impressive London Plane trees in Hackney Downs Park
Passing beautiful wildflower meadow in London Fields Park
Spotting this beautiful brick building covered with foliage on Regent’s Canal
Taking a detour from the canal via Victoria Park
Back on Regent’s Canal path and surrounded by greenery
Modern landscaping of Mile End Park, running along the canal
Finally arriving to Limehouse Basin.. tired, but happy!
Colourful boats mooring at Limehouse Basin
Quirky seagull statue on Ropemakers Field
Turning to Thames Path for a ferry back to Central London from Canary Wharf.. It’s been a great day!

Day 4 – Central/Royal London (21 km)

From Victoria Tower Gardens to Primrose Hill

Starting the walk today with coffee and green view in Victoria Tower Gardens
Found a quiet space in Jewel Tower gardens in Westminster
Spotting marching pelicans in St James’s Park
Walking path just for myself in Green Park.. look at the crowds on the left!
Lovely and tranquil Queen’s Meadow in Green Park.. next to busy junction
The Italian Gardens Cafe with living roof, taken over by nature
Henry Moore’s nature inspired Arch in Kensington Gardens 
Arrived in Regent’s Park wilder area
Regent’s Park’s wildlife garden with useful tips for gardeners
Passing wildflower meadow in Regent’s Park
Crossing the bridge over Regent’s Canal next to London Zoo
After a short climb the view over London from Primrose Hill. This is the end of my walk!

Day 5 – South London (27 km)

From Wandsworth Park to Bushy Park

Starting the walk from Wandsworth Park by Thames
Walking through the nature on Putney Heath
Spotting a windmill on Wimbledon and Putney Commons
Arriving to Richmond Park… hooray!
Fallen trees in Richmond Park providing shelter for Stag Beetles and rest for walkers
Half the distance done and feeling great!
Winding trail ahead in Richmond Park
Richmond Hill/Terrace Field with stunning views over Thames towards Surrey
Back on the Thames Path for the next 10 km
After a while passing the Teddington Lock
Approaching Kingston Bridge in the distance
Passing quiet Canbury Gardens, it’s late on Sunday evening
Made it to Kingston Bridge..
.. and looking exhausted. 5 km to go!
Finally in Bushy Park at Hampton Wick Gate!
In leafy and quiet Bushy Park and breathing in the freshest air in London
Meeting the herd of deer in Bushy Park.. a perfect end of the day!

Day 6 – Central London/South Bank (15 km)

From Tower Bridge to Waterloo

100 km behind me and on one of my favourite Thames walk
Tranquil wilderness spot in Potters Fields Park
Detour through Borough Market
Crossing Waterloo Bridge with green views over South Bank. The walk is done and my week in London is finished.. until next time!

Conclusion: My walking week in London proves London is great destination for walkers, who appreciate the variety and culture of the city, but still want to see nature close by. London has many species of wildlife and provides unique environment for wildlife spotting. However navigating in urban environment can be stressful at times and the routes are not always straightforward. Large parks have plenty of space to enjoy nature, but the main paths are often crowded and traffic can be heard nearly everywhere. I loved to see few smaller squares and parks in city centre opening up for public in recent years. I sometimes felt unwelcomed outside city centre, yet again few people stopped to help me. Some paths lacked facilities such as fresh drinking water or toilets. If not to account these few issues, London’s urban forrest is very special city environment and I hope more people will choose London as nature walking destination.

Next: I would explore certain area, instead of taking linear path. London has lot of cultural variety and North feels completely different than South or Docklands. I would love to take time discovering different areas in depth as each area is unique.

Author: Helen

Graphic designer inspired by travel, outdoors and sustainability