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Even though it’s primarily famous for being a buzzing metropolis, London has a wealth of green space

Collectively known as ‘The Royal Parks’, Regents Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Battersea Park, Holland Park, Richmond Park (and one or two smaller ones) make up London’s outdoor scene. They’re perfectly designed for outdoor fitness and wellness practices and thousands of people take advantage of them, swarming to military-style bootcamps, sweating it out with personal trainers, perfecting their tennis, horse-riding, dog-walking and, naturally, running. These picturesque green spaces help Londoners stay sane and capture some much-needed tranquillity and peace amidst the long-work days and heavy nights out. We recommend the following if you’re after a bit of a break from the city’s hectic busyness.

Primrose Hill

They don’t come prettier than this North London park. It’s close to the mayhem of Camden and yet has such a village-y feel that it feels almost quaint. It boasts the most incredible views of the London skyline and, like most London parks, is a dog-walker’s haven and a favourite picnicking spot in the summer for both locals and tourists.

It also happens to be a bit of a ‘celebrity neighbourhood’ (magazine readers among you will recall the infamous ‘Primrose Hill set’ of the ‘90s – an achingly cool gang of hip young things headed up by Kate Moss, pre-Sienna Jude Law and Sadie Frost – so do keep your eyes peeled for the odd A-lister. At the foot of the park, towards Regents Park and London Zoo, is an outdoor fitness area with equipment for those who need to fit a few burpees and push-ups into their trip. We find the best time to go is either before 8am (if you’re there for fitness) or around sunset (if you’re there for the view and the sunset).

Nearest tube: Chalk Farm

Circular walk along the Embankment between Chelsea Bridge and Battersea Bridge

If you find yourself South West, one of our favourite morning and evening walks is starting at Chelsea Bridge and ambling along the Embankment northside towards Battersea. Depending on how fit you feel, you can either cross Albert Bridge (one of London’s prettiest) or continue further down to Battersea Bridge. Once you’ve crossed over to the south side, you’ll find yourself in Battersea Park where you’ll find an enormous river-facing Peace Pagoda which arrived in 1985. The statue consists of a temple-like structure with a saffron-robe clad Buddhist monk, gently beating a drum as he does a daily perambulation at sunrise. It’s a very spiritual centre in the middle of busy Battersea and you’re more than likely to see someone praying, meditating or practicing yoga there. And the views of the bridges and the river are wonderful.

While in the park, you’re bound to see hundreds of dog-walkers with only the trendiest breeds (fleet of mini dachshunds, anyone?), runners, sports teams and skaters making use of the park’s wonderful long, flat stretches and excellent pitches. There’s something very ‘London’ about this walk and it’s refreshing to have the park, river, bridges and busy city all within view. Try this one first thing in the morning (especially if it’s cold and crisp) for a clear head for the rest of the day.

Nearest tube: Sloane Square or Battersea Park (overground station)

Albert Bridge by night

Simply one of Chelsea / Battersea’s prettiest sights, the Instgrammer’s dream that is Albert Bridge is adorned with lights and painted all sorts of lovely pastel colours. When we need to reflect on something important, this is where we go. Walk to the middle of the bridge, holding your question in your mind and looking out across the Thames. You’ll be amazed how often the river whispers back an answer. Check out our Down by the River Thames‘ meditation in our Visual Mindfulness section and you’ll see what we mean.

Nearest tube: Sloane Square or Battersea Park (overground station)

 

Halfway across Waterloo Bridge

As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset / I am in paradise.’ Those Kinks were onto something.
This has to be one of the most awe-inspiring spots in the whole of London and one that even Londoners never tire of. Walk halfway across Waterloo Bridge and experience full 360 views of London and try telling us you’re not impressed. To the East, you have the City of London where new yet already iconic landmarks (The Gherkin, The Shard) jostle with the historical beauty of St. Paul’s; to the West, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and good old Big Ben complete the skyline. It’s a majestic feast for the eyes and very easy to get access. Top tip: go at sunset when the lights start to flicker. There’s a real fairy-tale quality to the view and you’ll definitely feel the magic.

Nearest tube and overground station: Waterloo or Embankment

 

Wimbledon Common

Right on the edge of South London lies Wimbledon Common. Flanked by a golf course and hearty old-school pubs (which are wonderful drinking spots in the summer by the way), it’s an excellent place to go for a little reconnection. As you walk through the Common, you can totally lose yourself and almost forget you’re in one of the world’s most bustling cities. It’s got all the things you’d expect a London park to have: dog-walkers, runners, families. But what makes Wimbledon Common a little bit different is its sheer size: it’s HUGE. No wonder we can never find those Wombles…

Nearest tube and overground train station: Wimbledon

 

Buddhapadipa Temple Wimbledon

Another reason to get yourself down to Wimbledon: the Buddhapadipa Temple. It’s a Buddhist centre connected to the Royal Thai Embassy in London and is open to everyone. The temple’s grounds stretch across four acres and feature an ornamental lake, a small grove, a flower garden and an orchard. We go here when we need to find stillness, or need to sit and meditate uninterrupted. This is one of those places that reminds us of our core strength, a peace that can sometimes elude us during a busy or stressful period.

Nearest tube and overground train station: Wimbledon

 

Regents Park Rose Garden

Summer afternoons don’t get better than Regent’s Park. A veritable jungle of colour and exotica, it’s the perfect place to stop and – quite literally – smell the roses. There’s a beautiful lake in the middle of it, numerous sporting facilities (including an athletics circuit and tennis courts) and a fabulous open-air theatre that’s an idyllic place to sit and soak up some Shakespeare in the summer twilight. There’s something very regal about Regents Park, we recommend going there to rejuvenate after a hard day pounding the pavement in the West End.

Nearest tube: Baker Street and Great Portland Street

 

The London Eye

We’re not going to say too much about the London Eye (it does rather speak for itself) other than that it’s one of the more worthwhile landmarks to queue up for in the capital. Even though it’s a bit of a tourist trap (expect crowds), the view really is something and ideal for giving some much-needed perspective. It’s certainly worth doing at least once, superb day or night.

Nearest tube and overground station: Waterloo

 

Hampstead Heath

We’ve saved the best for last. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is our favourite green space in the whole of London. Locals may have their alternative favourite spots but, for us, Hampstead Heath is where it’s at. There are so many different corners to Hampstead Heath: from the regal Kenwood House (yep, that big stately home in Notting Hill) and the old-world pubs that sit around the edge, to the brilliant panoramic views from Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath is a total show-off. For the fitness seekers, there’s tennis, the lake, the lido, the athletics arena and the famous swimming ponds. Like its southern sister Wimbledon Common, it’s easy to forget you’re in a city with its endless woods and excellent marathon training lay out. A blissful spot to sit and while away an afternoon while watching London bustle in the distance, it’s safe to say we are conducting an enduring love affair with Hampstead Heath.

Nearest tube: Hampstead Heath or Belsize Park
Overground train station: Hampstead Heath or Gospel Oak

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