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Chelsea Physic Garden © Lauren Macaskill

Best Parks and Nature Spots in West London

9 May 2019 Eva de Valk

It’s the time of year to venture outside and embrace park life. We’ve lined up some of West London’s cleanest, greenest nature spots for you, from venerable botanical gardens with centuries of history to the newest kid on the block.

Let’s start off with the oldest one on our list: Chelsea Physic Garden, which was first established in 1673 as a teaching garden for apprentice apothecaries. Almost 450 years later, the garden still houses an impressive collection of medicinal, edible and otherwise useful plants. Among the 5,000 varieties you’ll find everything from your regular kitchen garden favourites to a range of poisonous, hallucinogenic and dangerous plants. You can opt to just wander around, follow the self-guided historical walk or to attend one of the many walking tours and workshops that regularly take place. Adult tickets are £10.

Another oldie but goodie is Kew Gardens, which has an impressive 250-year history. With 300 acres to explore you will probably need several return trips to take it all in, although the magnificent Victorian greenhouses deserve to feature in any visit. Another (literal) highlight is the 18-meter-high tree top walkway, which offers delightful views year-round. Once you’ve had your fill of plant-based entertainment, you can opt to explore Kew Palace or marvel at contemporary glass sculptures at the Chihuly exhibition, which is on until 27 October. Adult tickets cost £18.15 and include entry to the exhibition.

You’ll find a whole different kind of Victorian greenery at Kensal Green Cemetery, the oldest of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ burial grounds. It’s the final resting place of many a celebrity, including two members of the Brunel engineering family and playwright Harold Pinter. The winding paths, overgrown monuments and mature trees make it a perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon, although you might have to share the space with the occasional bird enthusiast; the cemetery has been a conservation area for over thirty years now, and is home to some rare plants and wildlife.

If you prefer your nature spots a little livelier, Holland Park always makes for a nice outing on a sunny day. The Kyoto Gardens, a section of the park laid out in Japanese style, is a particularly photogenic spot when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, although the waterfall and the resident peacocks make it worth a visit at any time of year. The park’s adventure playground, a firm family favourite, is due to reopen early this summer after extensive refurbishment; we predict that the new zipline and the 110 meters worth of water channels will be popular attractions.

Last but certainly not least is the London Wetlands Centre, a 100-acre wetland reserve located in a loop of the Thames. You can go for a relaxing stroll among the meadows and lakes, try to spot the local wildlife from one of the lookout points scattered around the park or meet the resident family of otters at feeding time. With indoor and outdoor kids play areas and a host of activities on offer throughout the year, young and old alike will find something to do here. Adult tickets are £14.30. 
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