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Photograph: Gillespie Park
Photograph: Gillespie Park

Secret spaces: the little-known north London garden that’s an oasis of calm

The place one Time Out writer goes when they need a bit of headspace

Chiara Wilkinson
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Chiara Wilkinson
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This month we're asking Time Out writers to share their favourite secret spaces in the city. First up Chiara Wilkinson on her favourite lesser-known park. 

I live on a very noisy road. Like most places in London, there’s a siren every five minutes and a woman who routinely freestyle raps at the bus stop outside my bedroom. Sometimes, it can get a bit much – especially for someone who grew up a fifteen minute walk from the silent Scottish countryside. That’s why I was so relieved when I stumbled across Gillespie Park: an overgrown oasis of woods, meadow, mud and ponds, tucked behind a secret-garden gate next to Arsenal tube station.

The park is home to the Islington Ecology Centre, reportedly providing educational talks and walks for schools, locals, and the like. According to the Islington council website, it’s home to 244 species of plants, 94 species of birds and 24 species of butterflies – although I can’t say I’ve seen many fluttery things there at all. What I have seen however, is plenty of squirrels, goldfish, damp and dandelions. It’s far from the yummy mummy grass-trimmed parks of east London. It’s sprawling and wild, with various paths and places to explore. I like to go and walk aimlessly and just think – or sit on the log bench and not think at all.

The best bit about it? Whenever I’ve been, there really is fuck all people around. I can gaze into the pond algae for a bit too long, run my fingers through the grass and mutter my thanks to Mother Nature, whistle back the birdsong and take flight. That, or I can just chill and read my book.

Gillespie Park, 10 Tannington Terrace, N5 1LE

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