The Best Parks and Nature Spots in East London

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Get your nature fix without leaving the capital this spring

Walthamstow Wetlands

Perfect for a nature-spotting walk, a picnic or just a casual stroll with the family, Walthamstow Wetlands - all 112 hectares of it - has it all. The wetlands are absolutely teeming with so much wildlife you might forget you're in London at all, and there are several big open stretches of water, and though bathing is not allowed, they make for the perfect view from a picnic blanket. The nearest tube stations to the Walthamstow Wetlands are Blackhorse Road and Tottenham Hale.

Warm weather has seen a variety of colourful and beautiful butterflies at #WalthamstowWetlands. In order to monitor numbers and record site-specific data, the London Wildlife Trust team have been conducting weekly butterfly counts as part of the UKBMS (United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme). These recordings have shown a mass wave of migrating painted lady butterflies - an unmistakeable butterfly which is found mainly in open and flowery places onsite and spends much of its time basking on the ground. There has also been a noted increase in marbled white butterflies which can be seen flapping slowly in the sun and feeding and basking on knapweeds and scabiouses. In total, there have been 24 butterfly species recorded onsite thus far this summer, highlighting the Wetlands as an important site for breeding and migrating butterflies. Here is an image of a dainty common blue butterfly at the Wetlands #butterfly #butterflies #butterfliesofinstagram #naturelovers #naturephotography

A post shared by Walthamstow Wetlands (@walthamstowwetlands) on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:12am PDT

Springfield Park and the Hackney Marshes

If you enjoy a canalside walk, head down to Springfield Park and the Hackney Marshes. Springfield Park Café, set in the beautiful White Lodge Mansion, a Grade II listed building, is a must for a rest stop: it’s mega relaxed, and gorgeous on a sunny day. Looking out over the rolling hills to the Lea below you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside. Simple British-Mediterranean fare is offered - think a fry up, or fresh tomatoes, halloumi and olives on a bread bed. When you’ve had your fill of the food and the view, wander down the hill towards the canal with the Lea on one side and the wetlands on the other. Make sure to admire the local dogs - and cows - before carrying on through Millfields Park to the end of Chatsworth Road, where you’ll find the beloved (and still not yet irritatingly busy) Chatsworth Road Market.

Hackney City Farm

Slap bang in the middle of the East End, Hackney City Farm is without a doubt the most fashionable of the urban farms. Between shimmying down Broadway Market for brunch and casually perusing Columbia Road for greenery, it’s the perfect mid-afternoon pit stop. From the smallest (guinea pigs), to the largest (the now famous donkeys), there’s something for everyone in this compact hideaway (including making friends with the free-strolling chickens!). There are also an incredible range of arts and crafts workshops to be taken advantage of, from pottery to mosaics, plus a cool zero-waste shop.

London Fields

London Fields has designated barbecue areas, clearly marked out by signs, so you can grab a spot to get your grill on or avoid big clouds of smoke if it’s more of a cold picnic kind of day. The park is located right next to Broadway Market, so you can grab yourself some lovely artisanal sossies or burgers beforehand. Or why not pop down to the lido (it’s heated!) to work up your appetite first?

Three Mills is one of London’s best-kept secrets. Within cycling distance, it’s possible to see both 300-year-old mills and great 21st century architecture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. House Mill is a tidal mill on the River Lea. Take a tour of House Mill, open on Sunday afternoons from May-October and the first Sunday in the month from November-April. Then, cycle to the Olympic Park, home to iconic buildings such as the ArcelorMittal Orbit designed by Anish Kapoor and the Aquatic Centre designed by Zaha Hadid.