· An Ode to London’s Victoria Park ·
There are many things to love about London: the layers of history built into the streets, the world-renowned museums and galleries, the picturesque vistas, the lively pubs. But arguably, one of the greatest things about London is its parks. No matter where you live, visit, or stay, there’s a park nearby.
In central London, four of the Royal Parks are concentrated together with Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, St James’s Park, and Green Park all in relatively close range. A little farther north, there’s the sprawling and elegant Regent’s Park while the remaining three Royal Parks (Greenwich Park, Richmond Park, and Bushy Park) are a little farther afield.
But the Royal Parks aren’t the only parks in London. There are many other parks such as Clissold Park, Hampstead Heath, and Finsbury Park, just to name a few. There’s Clapham Common and Battersea Park, along with a list of smaller square garden parks.
While all of London’s parks are quite nice, there is one that stands out from the rest: Victoria Park.
Ah, Victoria Park. London’s oldest public park, it’s situated a little out of the way in the East End. Sprawling out from Regent’s Canal to Stratford, the park features lakes, cafes, tennis courts, playgrounds, and more. While it may not be the most centrally located or as well-known as a Royal Park, but its tranquillity, beauty, and greenery are unrivaled anywhere else in London.
The western end of the park is slightly smaller, more landscaped, and picturesque. A small arm off the northwest of the park, it could almost be a park in itself. In the spring, the northern side features flower beds, while the western edge is bordered by cyclists on the Regent’s Canal. The Chinese Pagoda rises up from the trees with bridges over the small brooks. Follow the lake to Pavilion, a café overlooking the water with delicious brunch and coffee.
After crossing over Grove Road, the park opens up and an old drinking fountain – and by drinking fountain, we mean a beautifully ornate structure that houses a drinking fountain – greets park goers. Wide paths crisscross this more pastoral side of the park for walkers, runners, and cyclists (though pedestrians have the right of way). With beautiful trees, lovely old terraced houses bordering it, and even pieces of the old London Bridge, there’s nothing better than spending a day in Victoria Park.
Largely flat, it’s a great place to run or cycle. Strangely quiet considering its proximity to bustling East London, it’s also perfect for reading on a sunny day. Even in the winter, it’s nice to wander the tree-lined paths and warm up with a coffee from Pavilion. Make a day of it and head over to Broadway Market after.
All of London’s parks have their pros and cons. There’s no denying the loveliness of Kensington Gardens or the historic Hyde Park. St. James’s and Green Parks are regal and a haven in central London while Regent’s Park has a majestic vibe. The smaller parks have the advantage of feeling undiscovered while everyone knows that Primrose Hill has the best view in London.
But if I had to choose one to spend the day in, I’d always choose Victoria Park.