As the weather gets warmer and the evenings grow lighter, now is the time to make the most of our best green spaces. As an E3 resident (living in a tiny, garden-less flat), I have explored the area for the perfect patch and have become something of an expert in finding green spaces to enjoy the great outdoors. Below are my top five picks of places to soak up the sunshine, bask in the blue skies and get my flora and fauna fix.
I am not alone in thinking Victoria Park is the perfect spot, it was recently voted Time Out’s Most Loved Local Park by Londoners across the capital. Flanked by Victoria Park Village on one side and Regent’s Canal on the other, it is London’s oldest public park and proves to be a central point for the community.
The Park has so much to offer, it is huge (86.18 hectares, to be precise), offering a paradise for runners and cyclists. Alongside this, there are cricket nets, adventure playgrounds, tennis courts and a skate park to boot. It also has several lakes, which are home to an impressive array of water birds, not to mention some beautiful sculptures by Erno Bartha. It also houses a beautiful pink marble fountain – the Baroness Burdett Coutts Grade II drinking fountain – there really is something for everyone.
For me, on a sunny Sunday, nothing beats hiring a pedalo on West Lake, perusing the food stalls at the weekly market, grabbing brunch at Pavillion café and soaking up the rays, getting my vitamin D fix.
Mile End Park
Mile End Park is sometimes overlooked and viewed as the poor relation of Victoria Park but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The park was created on industrial ground, which was devastated by World War II bombings, so you can see why people may think that. But this spot complements the area perfectly.
Unlike Victoria Park, Mile End Park offers a host of culture and activities – home to the Ecology Pavilion, Arts Park and Art Pavilion, The Play Pavilion and Children’s Park, Mile End Park Leisure Centre, Mile End stadium, Mile End Climbing Wall, Mile End skatepark and the Urban adventure base.
If none of that’s up your street, sit and enjoy the vast expanse of green space and tranquility offered by the park itself. Right next to the Regent’s Canal, it’s a beautiful spot to relax in with a nice buzz of picnickers, playing children and sun-worshippers.
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Bear with me here – when someone suggested going to explore a cemetery, I wasn’t sure either. But I did and have never looked back. Originally the cemetery opened in 1841 and burials continued up to the late 1960s. In 1966 it was bought by the Greater London Council, before being passed to Tower Hamlets Council in 1986, who turned it into a nature reserve. The cemetery is now a woodland idyll, with an impressive array of wild flowers and birds. The local team does a brilliant job of maintaining the paths and the small park that sit behind the cemetery, creating a genuine wild forest feel, while being in the heart of East London.
Tredegar Square sits just off the busy Mile End road, providing a perfect green sanctuary to locals. Unlike some squares, this is open to all, residents and non-residents alike. Used regularly by locals it provides those of us who don’t have a garden with an ideal, small but perfectly formed tranquil enclave, the ideal antidote to the hustle and bustle of the busy Mile End Road.
It’s hard to believe this was at once time Victoria Park Cemetery, a major burial ground for local Eastenders. Today, it’s a hive of families and youngsters enjoying the impressive expanse of green space. It’s a busy, community park, loved by all, offering a football pitch and a well-furnished and much used adventure playground.
Meath Gardens is sandwiched between the busy rail tracks and Roman Road, so you would expect to hear the hubbub of traffic and din of passing trains, but the only noise audible is a general hum of contentment. Meath Gardens is a lovely spot, well cared for by the Friends of Meath Gardens who have worked hard to maintain the heritage of the space. They are active in evolving the gardens, ensuring they are used and appreciated. The Gardens also house an Ancient Black Poplar tree, one of Britain’s endangered native trees and a Eucalyptus tree planted to commemorate the burial of Bripumyarrimin, known as King Cole, an Aboriginal cricketer, in 1868.
Keep up with Cecilia’s exploration of our local area here.