Thought East London was gritty and urban? Think again. This part of the capital has more than its fair share of green open spaces.
From the leafy residential streets of Hackney to the peaceful towpath of Regent’s Canal, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to green spaces. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London without straying too far from home, here are five secret sanctuaries I highly recommend.
If your idea of tranquillity is delving into some local history, you could check out the beautiful Geffrye Museum Gardens in Hoxton (pictured above). Bypass the museum itself and head for the historical Herb Garden, which has over 170 different varieties of herb arranged according to a traditional garden plan. The garden is divided into separate beds for culinary, medicinal, fragrant and dye-making herbs.
Next up, you could explore the Period Garden Rooms, where a typical English town garden has been recreated for the Victorian, Georgian and Elizabethan eras. It’s fascinating to see how tastes and styles have changed over the years.
Another way to escape the city is to head to one of Hackney’s best rooftop bars. Coppa Bar is a new summer pop-up located above a co-working space in London Fields. It’s run by the same folks as Lardo Italian restaurant and as such offers a great range of Italian-inspired cocktails and snacks. You could sit yourself down in one of the beach huts provided and sip Negroni until late into the night. Open Thursday through Sunday.
Image credit: Cool Places
While you’re in London Fields, why not take a dip in the London Fields Lido? This heated outdoor swimming pool is open year round and is arguably London’s finest. You could swim a few lengths in the sun, rain or snow (the more extreme the weather, the more magical the experience). And if it’s warm enough, you could lay out to dry on the hot concrete with a good book afterwards. They also have an affordable café that sells Slush Puppies.
One of my personal favourites is this cute, homegrown garden centre in Bow. Growing Concerns can be accessed via a gate on Hertford Union Canal while you’re walking between Victoria Park and Hackney Wick. It sells all the plants and garden accessories you might expect (with herbs and strawberries among the favourites) as well as running gardening workshops for the local community. Nice!
Image credit: Donald Judge
Speaking of gardens, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is a welcome pocket of tranquillity in an area noted for its noise and haste. This popular community garden was founded on an old railway line and offers residents beds to grow their own food, as well as plenty of outdoor seating for picnics. It’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon drinking homemade lemonade from the garden café and chatting with friends.
The best way to explore East London is by bike or skateboard. A recent travel video for HotelClub does just this, exploring the area from the perspective of a skateboarder. Skateseeing East London is part of a series of urban travel videos taking in cities such as Brighton, Sydney and Melbourne. Having personally been involved in the project, I would love to hear from any Riviera-based filmmakers who might be interested in making a video for the area. You can get in touch with me via Twitter: @Skateseeing.