Even if you find yourself in London on a short-break, it’s possible you may fancy getting away from all the cosmopolitan hustle-bustle at some point for some quieter, more relaxed ‘me’ time. And why not. But where to go – well, when in London, do as Londoners do and make for the likes of these hidden away (and, from accommodation Paddington London, extremely easy-to-get-to) gems…
Brockwell Park’s Walled Garden
(Norwood Road SE24 0PA)
Brockwell Park Walled Garden is an historic gem in South London. Found in the London Borough of Lambeth, Brockwell Park is contained within the areas of Herne Hill, Brixton, Dulwich and Tulse Hill. Passed daily by commuters and enjoyed by the local community, the park’s blissful walled garden is known by very few – bully to them!
Described by the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens as a “‘formal but exuberant scheme of massed bedding, rose beds and topiary around a central pool” it is as lovely a walled garden today as it was then. Some of the thanks for this must go to 2012 restoration using Lottery funding.
The formal walled garden created in the late nineteenth century included rose beds, flowering shrubs, topiary, massed bedding of herbaceous perennials and annuals. Rustic arbours and pergolas, provided with seating encouraged visitors to linger and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and scented roses. Indeed, pink roses, white roses and red roses all add their delicate scent to the warm air. One of the advantages of a walled garden is that the containment allows for the flower’s perfume to be captured for the visitor to enjoy. And the numerous benches encourage one to sit, breathe in the flowers’ aroma and relax.
(Pier Street London E14 3HP)
Located in the middle of the Isle of Dogs, Mudchute Farm and Park is one of the largest of London’s city farms, covering a 32-acre site with its rural scenes creating a sharp contrast against the urban backdrop of Canary Wharf (and just a short Tube-and-DLR hop away from the Park Grand Paddington Court hotel). One of three city farms within Tower Hamlets, Mudchute is the largest of them all with smaller sites at Stepney and Spitalfields City Farm. At Mudchute there’s a wide range of farmyard animals, including sheep, pigs, horses, cows, ducks, geese and dogs, which are perfect for petting.
The farm’s café, Mudchute Kitchen, set in the courtyard next to the equestrian centre offers a good selection of freshly made food, offering a welcome break for the farm’s visitors, riders and office workers – get a world away from Canary Wharf in the short space of a lunch break. The farm also holds educational and seasonal special events throughout the year and school holidays including the Easter parade, Summer Open Day and the annual dog show, held in April.
(Lea Bridge Road E10 7QL)
Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve, Coppermill Fields and Leyton Marsh are all part of this Green Flag award-winning site in the Lea Bridge area. The reserve is one of the few remaining pieces of London’s once widespread river valley grasslands, and a space to treasure for many reasons.
There are plenty of paths to choose from should you explore by bike or on foot of an afternoon (before heading back in the evening for a slap-up meal at, say, the Grand Restaurant Paddington). Whilst exploring the area, look out for the blue plaque on the railway arch which commemorates the work of Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe. It was on Walthamstow Marshes where he flew his first all-British triplane. You’re also likely to see buzzards soaring above and peregrine falcons, whilst at ground level two of Britain’s rarest plants – creeping marshwort and brookweed – thrive here. Honestly, who could say fairer than all that!