A Visitors Guide to the Royal Parks of London
Tourism is one of the largest industries in England, worth around one hundred and twenty seven billion a year. Part of what draws visitors to England is London, which boasts more international visitors than any other city in the world with an average fifteen million international visitors each year. While there are many indoor attractions that visitors can enjoy when the weather is bad, London also has some stunning outdoor parks which are both beautiful and enjoyable to explore.
The royal parks of London are eight public parks that are still owned by the crown, hence the royal epithet. Together they make up nearly 5,000 thousand acres of stunning parkland that is free to enter and enjoy. Free guided tours and walks are a common occurrence in the royal parks. In fact there is something going on nearly every week throughout the year ensuring that if you are a tourist there will always be something of interest going on.
Hyde Park covers 350 acres of central London making it very accessible via underground tube. Featuring a large lake for boating, meadows and ornamental gardens for walking round, tennis courts and even horse tracks for riding, it could be easily said that this park has something for everyone. If you get hungry there are two fully licensed restaurants serving great food and drink and afterwards why not take a walk around some of the many buildings and statues in this park. The most famous of course being the princess Diana memorial fountain.
Regents Park is in northern central London and covers 410 acres. This park features many things of interest for a wide range of people. Flower gardens include Queen Mary’s Garden which is London’s largest rose garden and a new wildlife friendly community garden. There is also an allotment garden which features special days full of games and activities. If you are of the more sporty variety then this is the park for you as it has the largest public grass area for sports in central London. The two biggest attractions in this park are the open air theatre which offers shows from May to September and London Zoo.
Greenwich Park is the oldest enclosed royal park and is home to some amazing wildlife. Covering a relatively small 183 acres and situated on top of a hill, this park gives some amazing views of London. This park is a world heritage site and a site of importance for nature conservation. At night this park becomes a feeding site for bats and other night time feeders. As well as this there are 30 different species of birds that breed in the park and two deer herds, one herd of red deer and one herd of fallow deer’s.
If wildlife does not grab visitors then there is also the Old Royal Observatory, a large site of roman remains, a child’s playground and boating lake. Cafes and refreshment points which serve a range of hot and cold snacks and drinks are located throughout the park.
A Visitors Guide to the Royal Parks of London
Bushy Park is in southwest London and is the second largest royal park coming in at a whopping 1,100 acres. Like Greenwich Park there are deer herds here and the latest estimates put the amount of deer at around 320. Bushy Park features many sports facilities and it is home to Teddington Rugby Club, Teddington Hockey Club and four different cricket clubs. For the non sporty there are also fishing and boating ponds, wildlife conservation areas and horse rides. Additionally this park is home to the national physical laboratory. Like all royal gardens there are refreshment points and cafes throughout the park.
Richmond Park is the largest enclosed royal park covering a massive 2,500 acres. It is a national nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest. This park features many things to do and see with playgrounds for the children, many different buildings to explore and wildlife to enjoy. Special mention must be made of the Isabella Plantation which is an ornamental woodland garden full of exotic plants the year round. Cycling and horse riding routes are available and there are five local stables that ride in the area.
Kensington Gardens were once the private gardens of Kensington Palace and stands at around 270 acres. Laying west of Hyde Park, it is full of interesting things for tourists to both do and see. There is the magnificent Kensington Palace and beautiful Italian gardens, both of which are worthwhile site seeing trips. This garden is also home to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground and memorial walk. The walk itself is 9 miles long and takes you to famous sites associated with the princess. If you are disabled and have difficulty walking there is a service called liberty drives which is free for people who have difficulty getting around.
St James Park is a small park of 57 acres and is the oldest open park in London. Named after a leper hospital this park features many areas of natural beauty including St James Park Lake which features a small colony of pelicans. However for many tourists the attraction of this park is that you can see many royal occasions from here. These include changing the guard which happens daily during the spring and summer and on alternate days during autumn and winter. Once a year you can also see the trooping of the colour which marks the queen’s birthday and the royal marines beating retreat which occurs on two evenings in June.
Finally there is Green Park which is the smallest of the royal parks at 47 acres. Unlike the other royal parks there are no lakes and few buildings. There are two memorials to see however, the Canada Memorial and the recently opened RAF Bomber Command Memorial. This park consists almost entirely of trees and walks making it a nice place to just walk and relax. There are of course refreshment points available.
All these parks are easily accessible by rail, tube or bus and they all feature a selection of wildlife for people to spot. That they are all free to get into is a bonus and many of them would make ideal sites for a summer picnic, an evening stroll or just a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of London.