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Top 5 Picnic Spots in London

14 June 2018 Suzanne Frost

There are great places to picnic all over London, and your personal favourite might be your local green spot, but National Picnic Week takes things a bit more seriously. Considering criteria such as natural beauty and historical significance, they have created a shortlist for every region of the UK. We’ve listed the London nominees for this year below, and you can vote for a winner online. Or, if your local green spot didn’t make the list, you can nominate your favourite picnic spots for consideration in next year’s competition.

Highgate Wood
 
This little North London gem has been described as the perfect urban park. Close to Highgate tube and Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood offers a combination of wide-open fields perfect for picnics, a sporting green with a cricket pitch, a little café with both indoor and outdoor seating, along with an almost jungle-like forest area so dense it feels like you're out in the middle of the countryside. The forest is perfect for Sunday strolls with the dog while the well-equipped playground, complete with sandpits, climbing equipment and a zip wire provides fun and challenges for the kids. Highgate Wood has 11 park keepers and is in tiptop shape. For curious minds, they also offer guided walks to teach about the different types of trees and wildlife!
 
 
Victoria Park


The ‘cool’ one on the list (if parks can be cool), this East End spot in Hackney is actually London’s oldest public park. Opened by Queen Victoria herself in 1845, after a local MP presented her with a petition of 30,000 signatures, it was envisaged as a Regent's Park of the east and originally even had its own Speaker's Corner. Known as the 'People's Park' it became a centre for political meetings and rallies of all sorts. Today, Victoria Park is host to various sporting events and a number of large-scale festivals, just last week inaugurating the brand new All Points East Festival, London’s answer to Glastonbury. But for the picnic aficionados, Victoria Park has a large variety of trees - oaks, horse chestnuts, cherries, hawthorns and even Kentucky coffee trees - a quiet Old English Garden brimming with flowers and shrubs, a deer enclosure, a children's playground, and of course, last but not least, the famous boating lake with the most picturesque fountain in the middle.
 
 
Hampstead Heath


Covering 320 hectares, Hampstead Heath is so vast that finding a quiet spot for a picnic is not difficult. With some of the best views and highest points in London, there are beautiful vistas for everyone to enjoy. Get your hamper up onto Parliament Hill and watch the entire skyline of the city spread out before you. If you have energy to burn, Hampstead Heath has countless sports pitches and facilities, an athletics track and playgrounds. For a more romantic spot try the stunning listed Pergola and Hill Garden. Hampstead Heath's remarkable range of natural habitats also includes wide expanses of grassland and ancient woodland, making it one of London's best places for wildlife and biodiversity in the city. The Hampstead Ponds are popular for swimming – there’s a ladies and a men’s bathing pond – along with a model boating pond, a fishing pond and two ponds which serve as wildlife reserves. The Golder’s Hill part of the park has a formal flower garden, a separate area for deer, a butterfly house and a small zoo.
 
 
Richmond Park


Described as ‘the daddy of all parks’, Richmond Park is Europe’s largest urban park. It is part of the group of Royal parks and therefore comes with a couple of rules and restrictions, for example on the size of your picnic party – only you and 40 of your closest friends can attend and ball games are only allowed in certain areas. But since these regulations are mainly to protect the wild roaming deer and resident wild parrots, we are ok with that. Far away from the city bustle, Richmond Park offers serenity and calm, the only noise for miles are crickets and birds with the occasional bell of the ice cream van. For an after picnic walk, head for the Isabella Plantation to see the ponds and stream full of invertebrates and amphibians, as well as the famous collection of wild Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Camellias, along with native nectar and berry bearing trees that provide food and shelter for birds, bats and insects. It’s a little nature haven.
 
 
St James’ Park


Bang in the middle of central London, St. James's Park includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, and is surrounded by landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Whitehall. The park’s famous flower beds at the front of Buckingham Palace are a familiar backdrop to pageants, such as Trooping the Colour last weekend, as well as state visits and other ceremonial occasions. The summer months are particularly busy with events so check the park’s official website before you pack your picnic basket. The area where St. James's Park lies today was actually once the site of a lepers’ hospital for women, which was dedicated to James The Less (hence the name). The park has a small lake with two islands, West Island, and Duck Island, named for the lake's collection of waterfowl. Not only does St. James's Park have stunning flowerbeds and wide open green spaces, it's also home to 15 different species of birds, with the most famous being the resident colony of pelicans (which were initially given as a gift from a Russian ambassador in 1664 to Charles II). For the best views, head to the Blue Bridge on a sunny day to take some great photos of the London Eye, the Horse Guards Parade and Big Ben or Buckingham Palace.  And for a posh picnic befitting of a Royal Park, you can lounge on the lovely deckchairs provided, instead of sitting on the floor like a commoner!

To vote for your favourite picnic hotspot 2018 or to suggest a new location for future consideration go to the National Picnic Week website!
 

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