Out of Town

Rural London: Ancient Woods & Amazing Green Spaces in the Capital

London may be a metropolis brimming with historical architectural gems, a mammoth transport network, and looming skyscrapers. But it’s also bursting with green spaces. Just last year, the Capital became the world’s first ‘Natural Park City’.

Our green spaces aren’t just beautiful. They all have a story, and it’s not just humans that make the most of them. Whether you want to escape outdoors for a picnic or learn something new about the City, here are some of the most popular and lesser-known green spaces and ancient woods you need to visit.

Chiswick House Gardens

The 17th-century Chiswick House is a visual delight. But if you’re more of an outdoors person, you’ll probably prefer trekking around the perfectly manicured gardens noted for their Atlantic blue cedar trees. Relish nature from the waterfront by walking by the canal that surrounds the grounds. If you’re lucky, you might spot one or two parakeets that give the place a slightly tropical feel.

Battersea Park

The refined grounds of Chiswick House offer a glimpse into aristocratic life in Britain ‘back in the day’. But if you want a green space that’s quintessentially British in just about every way, head over to Battersea Park. This 200-acre parkland contains blowing greens, playing fields, memorials, and bandstands. There’s also a lake dotted with islands and a protected wild woodland area.

Abbey Park Cemetery

If a bit of biodiversity is what you’re after, we recommend heading to Abbey Park Cemetery, an old burial ground for church dissenters. Stay with us here. As eerie as it sounds at first, the site hasn’t been used since 1970, which has allowed it to flourish as a wild environment. Here, you’ll find some of the rarest insects, birds, plants, and fungi in Britain – right in the heart of its largest city.

Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill, while not without any wildlife, might not be London’s best greenspace for biodiversity, but nothing quite beats the view of an expansive, illuminated public park backdropped by the astonishing city skyline. The view is so undeniably astonishing that it’s protected by law, as it has been since 1938.

Epping Forest

We’ve discussed green spaces for relaxation, views, British culture and wildlife. Now let’s talk about a place where history meets unspoiled nature in the Capital. While parts of Epping Forest have been developed or cut through, much of its 6,000 acres of land has remained free to flourish without intervention for centuries. It’s home to the UK’s largest population of stag beetles plus deer, rare fungi and ancient trees. It was also once a hideout for Dick Turpin, one of Britain’s most notorious 18th-century criminals.

King’s Wood

Let’s end our list with one more ancient forest that’s recorded history dates back to 1086 – when the Domesday Book was written. Even more impressive is that evidence of Iron Age infrastructure has been found in this 147-acre green space in the London Borough of Croydon. Even though it was plundered just a tad for its timber during WWII, the size of the forest has remained pretty much the same since Tudor times. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy some serenity while walking in the footsteps of our ancient ancestors.

If you’re prepared to venture outside of the capital to explore some of the UK’s best green spaces, make sure to check out our beautiful tour of Warwick Castle and the Cotswolds. You’ll get to experience that quintessential British countryside for yourself.