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  • Writer's pictureMatias

Spring Oases: A guide to North / East London's 5 best parks

Spring in Highbury Fields park

Officially, it’s the first week of spring, and even though the weather looks promising, we will have to face another false start to spring before we can properly welcome one of my favourite seasons in London.


While warmer and drier weather is on its way, this serves as the perfect stage for us Londoners to start planning to enjoy this beautiful season in one of the many parks this city has to offer. With trees blossoming and grass turning lush, we can finally reclaim these beloved public spaces we have missed for so long and enjoy park life, singing along to Blur’s anthem.


London, among many other reasons, is famous for offering its citizens and tourists a vast number of green spaces in the heart of this mega metropolis. From well-kept, tiny, and wild parks to its eight Royal Parks, this city offers more than 3,000 parks and green spaces for us to enjoy. With that in mind, the thought of commencing the picnic season in one of these spectacular green spaces guarantees you a fantastic time and connection with nature.


With so many choices in the city, I’m going to share my North / East London's 5 best parks that I tend to visit during the spring and summer seasons. My selection does not only focus on the sole beauty of the parks but also the added value they have in terms of sports activities, markets, surroundings, and spaces for entertainment.


Follow me on this green journey!


 

Highbury Fields

This park is my most frequented spot in London, and for several reasons: its proximity to my home, the variety of activities available for booking, such as outdoor tennis, and its two fantastic green areas. One area is more family-oriented, while the other serves as a lively spot for picnics and gatherings. The latter is south facing, ensuring long days of sunlight until sunset. Conveniently, it's just a few minutes' walk from Highbury & Islington tube station, providing easy access to various shopping options should you need to stock up on drinks or food.


Pictures: Sunset, Church Path and tennis


Clissold Park

This larger park provides visitors with a wide range of opportunities to enjoy the open fields and grab a bite to eat or coffee from its main manor house. It features a pool for kids, tennis and skate parks, as well as a pond and enclosed area for watching animals. Situated in North/East London, right in the heart of trendy Stokey, this park maintains a perfect balance of popularity, ensuring it's never too crowded to practice sports, have a picnic, or simply take a stroll to admire its natural beauty.


Pictures: Autumn, deer and sunset Clissold Park IG account


Hampstead Heath

This park used to be my favourite spot when I lived in Kentish Town, and it remains a cherished place for me to disconnect from the city and enjoy a peaceful walk in the 'wild'. Spanning a vast 320 acres, this park offers everything a visitor could wish for, especially on warm summer days. It boasts three ponds where people can swim, providing a refreshing escape from the urban heat.


Beyond its natural beauty, the park offers spectacular views of the city skyline and numerous spots for picnicking, allowing you to momentarily forget you're in such a busy capital. It also features tennis courts, areas for kite flying, petanque, volleyball, and multiple children's play areas, as well as a full-size athletic track for those keen on athletics. The park also gives you the chance to contemplate the life of the rich around West Hampstead and perhaps spot some Hampstead cunts (as per Ricky Gervais' Humanity) in picturesque places like Hampstead Village.


Close by, you can also indulge in classic heart-warming pub cuisine at iconic spots like The Spaniards Inn, one of London's oldest pubs, or enjoy a sumptuous Sunday Roast at The Bull and Last.


Pictures: Ponds in the summer, Heath Hands IG account and my partner's bike


Victoria Park

Despite its location in one of London's less affluent boroughs, this park is a gem in East London and a favourite among Londoners. Winning the Green Flag People’s Choice Award for the most popular public green space in 2012, 2014, and 2015, and attracting nearly 10 million visitors each year, this 212 acre park holds a special charm for me year-round.


What makes it so special? It's not just its size, but the variety it offers. Throughout the year, it hosts a top-notch Sunday Market, and visitors can enjoy a range of amenities from the Pavilion Cafe by the pond to its sports facilities. Also, hosting events like the All Points East festival in late August adds to its appeal, making it a park that's hard to beat.


Pictures: Sunday Market, by the canal and Victoria Park Pagoda


London Fields

I'm mentioning this park more for nostalgic reasons than anything else, as it was my favourite spot when I first arrived in London in 2010. It holds fond memories of fantastic BBQ parties, which were allowed back then. While this park may not be the most picturesque green space, it's a bustling hub for hipsters, serving as a meeting point amid the trendy bakeries, breweries, and markets around London Fields.


I still visit this park year round because its surroundings offer access to markets such as the famous Broadway, boutique shops, and plenty of spots to have a good time day or night. Don’t forget to stop by for a cheeky pint at the Pub on the Park or enjoy a memorable night out at the famous The Dolphin.


Pictures: BBQ, Broadway Market and the main green


⭐ Bonus track - Epping Forest

Though this park stretches beyond North and East London into Essex, it offers a peaceful experience among ancient trees, allowing visitors to connect with nature and explore centuries-old Anglo-Saxon heritage. Covering over 4,200 acres and known as the Cockney Paradise, it's considered the most natural and historic among the parks mentioned above. With its huge size, rich history, lakes, and diverse wildlife, this forest and park provide an endless list of activities for all tastes.  Whether you're into horseback riding, mountain biking, football, or golf, there's something for everyone. Exploring this park offers endless beauty and the possibility of discovering something new every time.


Pictures: City of London Instagram

 

These are my favourite parks, especially during those long spring and summer days. Get ready for a glorious park life season: 'All the people, so many people, and they all go hand-in-hand, hand-in-hand through their parklife' 🌳🍻☀️

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