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London Greenground Map – 2nd edition

Greenground Maps – the first and second edition

The first paper edition of the London Greenground Map came out a year ago and included 380 parks & open spaces and 12 inspiring green lines for walking and cycling between parks. First map also included viewpoints, ferry piers and suggestions for outdoor activities such as kayaking, outdoor swimming and bird watching. This small pocket map got lot of media interest and people loved the concept – 1000 maps sold out by the beginning of this year.

The second edition of the London Greenground Map aims to keep the spirit of the first map, but expands the concept wider, now including twice as many parks in London to give more scope to explore. I’ve also included six more green & blue lines and an art line. The upgraded map is twice the size of the original map and printed on the recycled paper with sustainable inks, yet comes with the same price tag as the original.

Second edition includes several new interesting lines. Additionally to the official TFL and Ramblers’ LOOP line that appeared as an outer border on the first map, the new edition of the Greenground Map now also includes the highly requested Capital line, connecting the parks and open spaces of this popular walking path. And the LOOP is no longer the outer border – the map now breaks through the London Orbital, creating links with the countryside beyond.

Closeup of the map

In south the map now includes the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a section of North Downs Way from Box Hill to Sevenoaks. The Thames Downs line connects the Thames to the North Downs Way. The detailed directions can be viewed here. On the east the the two lines are connected by the Darent Valley line that runs from Dartford to Sevenoaks.

The Royal Line now extends up to Windsor taking in the famous Windsor Great Park and The Long Walk as well as few historic green spaces along the way such as Runnymede. Additionally to Darent the new river lines now also include Ravensbourne in South-East and Roding in North-East, both connecting Thames with LOOP line.

The Line – London’s first dedicated public art walk is now on the map as Art line, passing several parks and green spaces on the way. Starting from Queen Elizabeth Park it goes through the Three Mills Green and Cody Dock before crossing the Thames to Greenwich Peninsula. More detailed map with the artworks can be seen here.

Brompton Dock icons now point where to hire a Brompton bike for cycling between green spaces inside London or even for outdoor adventures further out in the countryside. The more detailed map with exact locations is here.

Second edition also includes city farms and this TimeOut article highlights some. I’ve also added icons for selected campsites around London for getting out to nature. Couple of outdoor bouldering sites make another interesting day out.

With twice as many green spaces, seven new lines and more outdoor activities to discover I hope the second map will be an inspiration for both existing and new London Greenground explorers 🤞

Tube style walking network

The second paper edition of the Greenground Map is now available in my store for £10 (postage included).

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Green city – Bristol

This week’s green city is Bristol as one of the greenest cities in UK and home of many green enterprises, festivals and BBC Nature. I chose Bristol as I lived there during my postgraduate studies and did lot of walking and cycling during my time as a student. Our campus next to Ashton Court park was in a very leafy setting with deer park next to it and my student house in Southville in walking distance from everywhere. 🚶‍♀️

Bristol’s green mentality is in fact so strong that it was awarded the European Green Capital award in 2015 as first city in UK. As a walkable/cyclable city with healthy air, strong green economy and further goals to change the city transport and energy more sustainable, Bristol scored all the boxes to win the green city award. Since then there has been even a stronger focus on green development and the city offers many green activities.

According to Visit Bristol the city has proportionally more parks and green spaces than any other city (over 400) and nature is never very far away. Bristol also has over 1100 hectares of Nature Reserve sites, some of them such as Avon Gorge is nationally important site with 30 rare plant species and several rare wildlife species that only exist in this site. With such rare habitat it has a Special Area of Conservation status.

Before Bristol became the Green Capital it was the first cycling city back in 2008. It’s the birthplace of the National Cycle Network and Sustrans – UK walking and cycling charity. Now Bristol has 300 bike parking spaces and getting around on bike is popular for both Bristolians and visitors (despite the many Bristol hills). You can even take a bike trail to Bath or practise mountain biking on Ashton Court park tracks.

River Avon is the main landmark in Bristol and closeness of the sea has strong influence on the city’s maritime culture. This is apparent near the Harbourside, especially around the M Shed and on the riverside walk to Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Bristol has altogether 100 miles of waterways – interconnected rivers and canals to walk, cycle or explore on a boat or passenger ferry.

Making the infographic definitely inspired me to revisit Bristol and I think this green city will always remain close to my heart. 💚

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Green city – Helsinki

If last week I ventured to cycle capital Amsterdam, then this week I decided to make an infographic of the city that is just a stone throw away from Tallinn where I am based. Helsinki is the closest city just about 80 km away on the ferry and with it’s island dotted coastline and cool nordic vibes offers a great alternative for long-distance urban walking.

What makes Helsinki a very attractive city for green minded walkers are its many islands. As an urban archipelago Helsinki spreads on around 330 islands including several nature reserves like Harakka island and a eco-minded car-free Suomenlinna sea fortress. According to My Helsinki the city offers many unique island hopping opportunities for walkers and cyclists.

Helsinki has altogether 123 km of coastline that includes more than 30 public beaches (some of them on islands). With fresh air flowing in from the sea, Helsinki’s air quality remains one of the cleanest in the world all year around. The city has many coastline promenades & paths to take in fresh sea air and the Southern Helsinki coastal path dotted with islands is especially beautiful.

Helsinki city centre is compact and if combined with public transport such as trams or public ferries, walking is really one of the best way to get around. Helsinki also has around 1200 km of cycle routes and cycling is becoming increasingly more popular. The City of Helsinki aims to increase sustainable transport by creating new light traffic bridges, one even the longest in Finland.

With around 1/3rd of the city being parks and green spaces, Helsinki really is one of the greenest capitals in Europe. Central Park, the largest park and urban forests in the city, covers 10 km2 in the middle of the Helsinki. Altogether Helsinki has 70 km2 of greenery to get out and explore, including 55 nature reserves for hiking and bird spotting.

I hope you like this week’s green city and I am certainly looking forward to explore Helsinki more this summer! ✌️

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Green city – Amsterdam

I wanted to try something new this week and decided to make a series of Green City graphics. The first destination I picked is Amsterdam – the city I have been meaning to visit for years, but never have. So hoping this might be the year 🤞 I’ve been doing some enjoyable guidebook reading and picked out couple of facts what makes Amsterdam a sustainable city.

Amsterdam has more bikes than people. Amsterdam is known as the biking capital of the world, but the bikes are now taking over the city. Currently nearly 873,000 people live in Amsterdam with more than 881,000 bikes. According to IAmsterdam majority of Amsterdammers cycle daily covering combined 2 million kilometres as they pedal along.

According to Lonely Planet Pocket Amsterdam guidebook Amsterdam has 100 km of waterways and a thriving houseboat community with 2500 boats. With the interconnected waterways Amsterdam is a perfect city to live in a boat and many boat owners are interested in sustainable living, turning their boats into energy efficient floating homes.

Amsterdam also has the most canals in the world with 165 canals (that’s more than Venice) and stunning total of 1753 bridges. The narrow canals and bridges make driving in the city difficult and this is why cycling and walking is the preferred method to get around for most Amsterdammers and visitors. The historic city planners couldn’t have done better!

Amsterdam has 30 parks, a forest and 400, 000 trees in parks and along the canal paths. Because Amsterdam is compact in size, this makes Amsterdam a very leafy city. Vondelpark is one of the most popular inner city parks and Amsterdam forest with it’s 1000 ha of green lushness definitely seems like a great place to spend a day.

I know I certainly am looking forward to my visit.

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Green ways for all

London is one of the greenest cities in the world and not only because of its traditional parks and green spaces, but also for some magnificent greenways. The canals and rivers are long linear parks often aligned with trees and greenery for walkers and cyclers to enjoy. The abandoned railway lines such as Parkland Walk is another way to convert a linear space to a park.

The green ways often connect bigger parks and provide safe and quiet routes from one green space to another. If all the parks were connected by greenways, cycling and walking would be much more enjoyable and tranquil experience. These paths can get busy too, especially on weekends, but they are still much better option than walking or cycling next to traffic lanes.

The benefits of linear green walking spaces was obvious already in 1970s when four east London boroughs came together and created a Green Chain that is a system of 300 linked parks. This protected the parks from development and provided 50 miles (80 km) of green walking routes. Thanks to their insight this part of London is still particularly green.

As someone who always takes a green way when she can, Green chain is one walk that is definitely on my bucket list! 🌳🔗🌳🔗🌳

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Common Tree Leaves hand-illustrated graphic

Ruskin said (and I’m not sure I would have liked the man himself if we had met, but he had some good points) that drawing makes us understand the world around us more. Only through drawing person can really get into core of things and if there is a one skill I like to master – it’s drawing.

I’ve always loved watercolour as a medium and as I was yearning for a break from screens, initially decided to use it for the initial sketch. But as I enjoyed the whole process so much I decided to take a leap and make the whole graphic with watercolour illustrations! 🙌

My next step was to draw and paint the leaves in a notebook. I used the internet as reference for my secondary research. It’s also a quicker method than going out and finding all the leaves.. although this would make a great project! Drawing and sketching 25 leaves from reference took me a day.

I also decided not to take an easy route and use a digital font, but to handwrite tree names in the notebook as well. As I rarely write any more I had to do some practice runs, but quite happy with the final result.

All my ‘pieces’ ready I digitalised the artwork and put everything together in graphic’s software, trying to keep the colours close to original. It took some fiddling to get it right, but finally here it is – the watercolour illustrated nature graphic of common tree leaves. 🎨

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Tree Types of The World map

World map of tree types is crafted from data of more than 60 000 species recorded in the Botanic Gardens Conservation International database of all known tree spaces. The database is fluid and evolves as new information is recorded. I accessed the information on 22/09/2019 and although an attempt is made to include all the species on the graphic, some were excluded to achieve the aesthetic effect.

Working with more than 60 000 entries on the graphic has its own challenges that first involved cleaning up the data and converting it into importable text. Once I had the whopping 260 pages thread text file I placed it into graphics software on top of the contour of the world map and formatted as best as I could.. which was a slow going.

With font size of 12 pt a printed out version of this densely knitted type map would be legible covering about 3 metres by 2,5 metres wall…… Luckily the magic of digital version allows to zoom in the data to look for single entries! 💫

See the Tree Types of The World Map PDF (zoom in to see the data)

BGCI. 2019. GlobalTreeSearch online database.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International. Richmond, UK.
Available at http://www.bgci.org/globaltree_search.php
Accessed on (22/09/2019).

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Timeline of new species in London

Londoners have always been innovative with introducing new species and some of the trees and wildlife now taken granted in London are actually, on the timeline of natural history, quite new. Some introduced species become naturalised and we tend to forget they actually have foreign origins. And then there are new ‘invasive’ species who also have found home in London.

The timeline does not include all non-native species (very far from it!), but a tiny selection to illustrate when different species have arrived and became part of the city. Personally I think they enrich London and make it more interesting and vibrant place, but everyone are welcome to their own opinion. 😊

Non-native species now settled in London

  1. Apple
    Now naturalised fruit tree in UK is actually from Asia and was first cultivated in Britain by Romans. It’s likely apple has been grown in London since its foundation, nearly 2000 years ago!
  2. Fallow Deer
    Fallow Deer are also introduced to Europe from Asia and were first brought to UK around 11 century by Normans. It’s now become a common deer in UK and London parks alongside the red deer.
  3. Rabbit
    Yes, rabbit also travelled to Britain from mainland Europe with Normans. Now widespread in UK and London parks, the rabbit hasn’t been around for longer than 800 years!
  4. Sycamore
    Now naturalised tree from mainland Europe was introduced around middle ages, more than 500 years ago and is now a common tree of London’s urban forest.
  5. Horse Chestnut
    Horse Chestnut is actually from Turkey and was brought to UK on late 16th century. It’s another loved non-native tree that has found a home on London streets and in parks.
  6. London Plane
    One of the most common street trees in London was introduced from Spain in 17th century, but this hardy urbanised tree is actually a hybrid of oriental and American plane.
  7. Great White Pelican
    The pelican has been around in St James’s Park since 1664 when first birds were gifted to London by ambassador from Russia. 40 pelicans have since lived in the park (corrected).
  8. Weeping Willow
    This willow is native in Northern China and was first seen in London in 1700s. It’s often found near ponds, rivers and canals thanks to its dramatic drooping branches.
  9. Canada Goose
    A native in North-America this large goose has been around for around 300 years, spread widely on 20th century and is now the most common goose around London park lakes.
  10. Egyptian Goose
    This African native has been an ornamental bird since 18th century, but made an escape and has now made a permanent home of London parks mainly because of the milder winters.
  11. Grey Squirrel
    The most known London species of non-natives has been running wild in London since 1870s. Originally a guest from North-America the Grey Squirrel has taken over London and most of the country.
  12. Little Owl
    Brought over from Europe in late 1880s little owl is now quite common in England and Wales and can be spotted hunting in leafier parts of London urban forrest.
  13. Mandarin Duck
    This colourful bird from Far East was also part of the ornamental waterfowl before breaking into freedom in 20th century and now living freely on London park lakes.
  14. Ring-Necked Parakeet
    The only resident parrot in UK is originally from Africa and Asia. First spotted in London nearly half a century ago it settled permanently in over last few decades.

And here’s the visual timeline.. Enjoy!

Sources that helped me to make this infographic

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/british-trees/common-non-native-trees/
https://www.rsb.org.uk/get-involved/biologyweek/uk-s-favourite-tree-species
https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer
https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks
https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/
https://www.wikipedia.org

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Expanded London Greenground Map

Unofficial London Greenground Map is expanded Park Connection Map covering more green and blue ground across Greater London. The focus of the experimental map is to connect parks and open spaces into one walkable and cyclable network. This is an independent creative project that started from an idea to propose an accessible map that would help navigating London via parks and waterways.

The third version of the map has two more river lines – Crane and Wandle, connecting parks along the river banks. The long distant LOOP line is based on a real TFL London LOOP walking trail, a 150 mile (242 km) circular walk around London that includes many open spaces and in some sections runs along the rivers and canals. I have also added bird watching places and viewpoints.

As the map grows the legibility also grows more complicated. The new map has around 300 parks and open spaces that is 10% of the 3000 parks and green spaces of London.  It is now obvious it’s not practical (or even possible) to include all green spaces to one legible map, but the further development could see one large map with main open spaces and smaller area maps with local park connections.

My map also does not take account specific street conditions and may not suggest the best walking or cycling routes. The map does not suggest specific streets as it assumes every park or open space does have a reasonably walkable street to the park next to it. Some of the paths are recognised trails, but part of the fun  for me was also to suggest made up lines, that does not currently exist.

The main goal of the Greenground map is to look at London from the different point of view,  inspiring Londoners to see connections between parks and making up their own walks and cycle loops for recreation and commute. London is a green city and walking from park to park or by the river or canal path could be the best part of everyone’s day.

I very much hope this map could become reality in London transport system one day! 🤞

 

Greenground Map v3

Larger version: Greenground Map v3 PDF

Inspired by National Park City

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