Editors note: I started writing this post about 2 weeks ago – and am only now finishing it. I apologise for the tardiness!!!
One of my favorite things about London and the UK is the proximity I feel to nature. Even London, whose nickname is Big Smoke, you're never very far from someplace wooded or a nature reserve or even just a leafy square where you can rest your feet and enjoy some lovely flowers.
Ever since moving into our house, we've been exploring the natural beauty of East London. Hah! you may say – Hackney is full of estates and faded glory! But no, nestled amongst the hipsters and cafés and plantain shops, there are tons of acres of preserved land.
About a month ago, The Irishman and I cycled over to the Lea Valley park and Tottenham Marshes. You access the park via a spur of the canal and cycle or walk all the way over to Walthamstow Marshes. We found an ice skating rink, a horseback riding facility, and working reservoirs that treat the water for London. There are cute pubs and cafés all around, so you can walk or bike or run safe in the knowledge that there are places to take a break everywhere you go.
That's The Irishman on his bike!
Then two weeks ago we walked the Parkland Walk, which is a trail stretching from Finsbury Park to Highgate tube station that runs along an abandoned section of railway track. I'd heard about it from a few people who did the walk and we decided to check it out, and extended it by walking from our house to Finsbury Park and joining the trail there.
The best part of the trail is that there are artifacts still in place from it's previous life as a railway – so old station platforms, bridges, and access points are decaying and fading back into the land as the wildlife takes over.
The trail its about 1.8 miles long up to Highgate tube station, and we added on about 1.5 miles in the walk from our house to the trail. It was a beautifully quiet and peaceful place to stroll on a Saturday and pretend we didn't live in the middle of a global capital. Yet when we popped out on the other side, a pub was waiting to warm us and a bus ready to take us home. That's my kind of wilderness.