Most people cite Richmond Park as the best place for pastoral tranquillity, except it’s not particularly quiet what with tons of joggers and everyone else in London having the same idea. Bushy Park, which is a short distance from Hampton Court station or a bus from Kingston, is far wilder, has way more deer, and there’s a mile-long tree-lined avenue designed by Christopher Wren, punctuated by a massive eighteenth-century statue of the Roman goddess Diana. The water garden is possibly the best spot for solitude, tucked away from the crowds, where the only noise you’ll hear are ducks flapping their wings in the spray.
The classic Londoner’s lament – usually felt when boarding the same bus as an entire class of primary school students or braving the sweaty crush of the Central Line in mid-July – is that peace and tranquillity could be yours only if you got out of the city. But you don’t actually have to travel that far for a bit of peace and quiet if you know where to look.
Unlike other cities with their fancy-pants grid systems and forward planning, London’s haphazard history – it was abandoned as a city in 410AD and only started growing 900 years later – has created plenty of unexpected micro-pockets of calm. It’s less ordered, but it’s also a lot of fun to explore.
With the city’s population forever on the rise, the quest to find places that allow you to draw a breath and get a bit of respite from the relentless onslaught has never been more important. There are tons to choose from, but here’s our pick of the best.