Get Back to Nature in London

hyde-park-londonLondon is a huge, bustling metropolitan city with around 8.5 million people calling it home.  It might surprise you to learn then, that almost 50% of the city is actually open, green space just crying out to be explored and discovered.

Whether you have a real love of the outdoors or just fancy getting up close to nature whilst visiting London, there are plenty of different options for you to choose from:

Get Your Hands Dirty

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a city which has such a vast amount of open space, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to get involved and get their hands dirty.  Charities such as the London Wildlife Trust have a number of sites across the city and welcome volunteers to come on a one-off or regular basis to help with tasks such as cutting back overgrown plants and weeds, maintaining land and helping to manage wildlife habitats.  There are also a large number of community gardening projects cropping up all over the city; projects such as the Phoenix Garden in Central London.  The Phoenix Garden is an award winning community garden situated in Camden and was created as a retreat for both people and wildlife.  You can expect to see wildlife such as birds, bees and even reptiles here and they often hold events, planting days and volunteer days as well throughout the year.  The Phoenix Garden is just one of many such community garden projects, any of whom would welcome additional help throughout the year so don’t forget to pack your wellies in your suitcase!

See the Animals

If animals are more your thing then you might enjoy a few hours spent at one of London’s many city farms.  As well as getting up close to farm animals, many of these city farms also run volunteer programs which allow visitors to muck in and experience what rural life on a farm would be like, despite being in the heart of the city.  Some of the best farms in London include:-

-Vauxhall City Farm which is home to a trio of Alpacas as well as some rare breed farm animals.  Every weekend the farm also runs a farm spinners workshop demonstrating how to turn the soft alpaca wools into yarn.

-Spitalfields City Farm which regularly holds special events such as goat racing, campfire classes and pond dipping as well as being home to a number of cute and fluffy farm friends.

-Mudchute Farm is one of the city’s largest spanning 32 acres on the Isle of Dogs.  Here you will find a petting zoo, a duck pond and 26 horses and ponies which form the heart of the city farm.

Hunt for Treasure

With such a vast and varied history, it’s no surprise that the banks of the River Thames are often home to wonderful and unique treasures from throughout the ages.  Better yet is the fact that because the mud is anaerobic, many of these artefacts are preserved in excellent condition.  You can book onto specific beach-combing tours or just give it a go yourself; anyone is allowed to comb the riverbanks as long as you only take what is on the surface.  We would recommend wearing old clothes and bringing along a bag for any treasures you may find; with over 10,000 years worth of history you may just be surprised at what you can discover.


Grab Your Waders

For a more unique way of getting closer to nature as well as getting to explore London from a different perspective, try the Deptford Creek tour.  This walking tour takes place during low tide, once a month and gives visitors the chance to see wildlife such as shrimps, crabs, fish and a whole host of wildflowers.  The tours are led by an experienced conservationist and waders, waterproofs and walking sticks are provided although it is recommended that you also wear old clothes underneath as the creek is extremely muddy, as you might expect.  Each expedition lasts around 2 and a half hours and costs £10 for an adult and £8.50 for children over the age of 8.  If you wanted to try out something different then you won’t go wrong with a low tide walk at Deptford Creek.  Deptford is slightly outside of the heart of the city; it would take you just less than an hour to reach it from somewhere central such as Hyde Park London using public transport.

Head to the Woods

If you simply want to surround yourself with the beauty of a woodland and breathe in some fresh air, taking in the sounds of nearby wildlife then try one of London’s picturesque woodlands.  Holland Park, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Highgate Wood and Lee Valley are just a few of the perfect places to head.  Plenty of maintenance work has been put into preserving these slices of London’s historic forestry and you will be treated to a veritable haven of wildlife from birds to insects and plenty of woodland animals as well.  You could easily be forgiven for thinking you are miles away from the city in the heart of the country.

Get Active

Horse riding, tennis, boating and cycling are all very possible in London.  There are several different locations in which you can enjoy these different activities including Hyde Park and Lee Valley.  Many require booking in advance so it’s worth looking online to see the best location for the activity which catches your eye.  Lee Valley is a wonderful choice if you want to really feel as though you are miles from the city as it comprises of more than 10,000 acres of beautiful parkland whereas Hyde Park is a more centrally located choice but hold its own attraction nonetheless.  If you are feeling particularly brave you might choose instead to enjoy one of London’s many open air lidos which are available for public use the whole year round.

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