Ten great local parks in London

Their Royal cousins are great, but sometimes you can't beat an afternoon amid the scruffier splendour of one London's laid-back local parks. Here's our guide to some of the city's best, complete with nifty maps pointing out all the fun stuff

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  • Clissold Park, N16

    Barbecues allowed? No

    Opens 7.30am

    Closes Dusk

    Transport Canonbury overground, Stoke Newington rail

    What’s it like? Calm, lush, spacious and diverse in its population; young families, canoodling couples and football lads are among the regulars, but rarely does it feel like anyone one group’s about to take over.

    Main recreational activities? Depending on which side of 30 you are, there’s the charming, recently restored Grade II listed Clissold House to admire (from the outside only, unless you’re getting married in it), or a decent-sized skatepark and open-air table tennis area.

    What’s new? Along with the aforementioned improvements to Clissold House and the skatepark, 2012’s Lottery-funded refurbishment also brought several new kid-centric attractions to the park. Look out for new animal enclosures to the park’s small farm, a butterfly dome, a large play area, five-a-side football facilities and more.

    Any weird ones? The guy who floats around offering £5 foot massages to groups of sunbathers can be either an irritant or harmlessly hilarious, depending on how much cider you’ve had.

     

    Clissold Park, N16
  • Springfield Park, E5

    Barbecues allowed? No

    Opens 7.30am

    Closes 9.30pm in summer, 4.30pm in winter

    Transport Stamford Hill or Clapton rail or Clapton overground

    What's it like?  London’s most beautiful, untouched local park. A fountain, a graceful slope, a playground, tennis courts, a bowling green, a cricket pitch and a bit of tangled shrubbery for the kids to get lost in. There’s an upscale fresh-juice-and-homemade-cake sort of café at the top, and a great greasy spoon by the river at the bottom.

    What's new? Very little changes in this part of the world, which is just how we like it.

    Main recreational activities? Pottering, picnicking, sunbathing, non-strenuous sports. The slope is great for sledging in the winter, or the rolling of cheese and/or children in the summer.

    Any weird ones? On hot weekends, the stretch of river at the bottom of the park is a noisy jostle of boats of all shapes and sizes, from Victorian narrow barges to inflatable dinghies. The bridge across to the marshes makes for a great lookout post from which to watch the fun.

     

    Springfield Park, E5

Clissold Park, N16

Barbecues allowed? No

Opens 7.30am

Closes Dusk

Transport Canonbury overground, Stoke Newington rail

What’s it like? Calm, lush, spacious and diverse in its population; young families, canoodling couples and football lads are among the regulars, but rarely does it feel like anyone one group’s about to take over.

Main recreational activities? Depending on which side of 30 you are, there’s the charming, recently restored Grade II listed Clissold House to admire (from the outside only, unless you’re getting married in it), or a decent-sized skatepark and open-air table tennis area.

What’s new? Along with the aforementioned improvements to Clissold House and the skatepark, 2012’s Lottery-funded refurbishment also brought several new kid-centric attractions to the park. Look out for new animal enclosures to the park’s small farm, a butterfly dome, a large play area, five-a-side football facilities and more.

Any weird ones? The guy who floats around offering £5 foot massages to groups of sunbathers can be either an irritant or harmlessly hilarious, depending on how much cider you’ve had.

 

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Users say

2 comments
Tina Gray
Tina Gray

Burgess Park now has built-in barbecues, just bring your charcoal briquettes & firelighters & lighter/matches. There are special barbecue-bins to empty previous ashes into & the next person using the same grill as you does the same with the ashes you leave behind (once they have died out and gone cold). Its a good idea to bring a packet of kitchen-wipes to give the grill shelf a quick wipe over before use. Saves buying disposable-use-once-portable-barbecue-trays. I suggest buying a large bag of charcoal beforehand & just take along as much as you will need, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. I haven't visited Burgess Park since its revamp but friends have told me about the barbecue area & say it seems a great idea & addition which is bringing more visitors to the park. I'm not sure on the park policy regarding music but apparently people are taking along music players & everyone gets into the " carnival mood ", this might be the thing to take-over the annual Southwark Carnival in Southwark Park which has been gradually squeezed out over the past 4-5years (great shame as this event was the highlight of the summer calender...still, Burgess Park is the new place to be in Southwark.