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The Royal Parks of London
by Victoria Cochrane on 07/03/08

There is no denying London has one of the UK’s most vibrant social scenes and the capital city has long been looked upon as a centre for commerce. A lesser known fact is that London is one of the greenest capital cities on the globe.

Hundreds of parks, gardens and waterways mean almost 40% of London’s 1,600 sq km consists of green space or water. With so much greenery on offer you are spoilt for choice when navigating your way through some of the finest natural beauty spots to be found in the 'big smoke'.

London has eight Royal Parks which stretch across 5,000 acres and combine rich cultural heritage with vast green expanses. Standing at almost 2,500 acres, Richmond is the largest of the Royal Parks and was recently named London's favourite picnic spot for the second year running.

Home to 650 deer who roam freely in the grounds, the landscape varies between woodland, ponds, hills, gardens and grasslands. The assortment of terrains mean Richmond Park is ideal for an abundance of different outdoor activities including cycling, fishing, and horse riding.

Bushy Park is the second largest and has the same rural feel as Richmond. The famous Arethusa 'Diana' Fountain forms the centrepiece to Chestnut Avenue and is recognised by English Heritage as one of the most important groups of sculpture in Britain.

At the heart of London lies St James Park with its resident pelicans, ducks and geese. Dedicated cycle paths allow quick and easy access. Hunger pangs can be satisfied at the park's very own restaurant and café, ‘Inn the Park’, renowned for using fresh seasonal ingredients from small independent producers.

Neighbour to St James is the peaceful Green Park, which spreads over 47 acres and is bordered by Constitution Hill, Piccadilly and Queen's Walk.

Sports enthusiasts will be impressed with Regent’s parks 410 acres, 100 of which are devoted to athletes of all abilities. The largest outdoor sports area in London, the community pavilion and pitches are no stranger to a game of tennis. Cricket, rounders, football and rugby are also played here and an athletics track is available.

Greenwich Park is home to a boating lake and the well-known observatory which allows great views across the city whilst Hyde Park lies in the west and hosts the Serpentine Gallery, one of London’s favoured venues for modern and contemporary art. Close to Hyde Park lies Kensington Gardens whose cycle paths and walk-ways are popular with those living in or visiting Central London.

Outdoor activities in London are not limited to the Royal Parks, however. An abundance of alternative green spaces provide quiet spots to take refuge from city life. The maze of canals and rivers allows exploration of the city by boat and offer boundless opportunities for alfresco dining.

What's more, many of the main hotels in London are located in close proximity to at least one of the parks mentioned so on your next visit to London you can make the most the city’s natural environment.

Victoria Cochrane writes on a number of topics on behalf of a digital marketing agency and a variety of clients. As such, this article is to be considered a professional piece with business interests in mind.

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