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Like New York, London is a huge city full of endless things to do and see. And with that comes lots and lots (and lots) of people.
The city can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors with its fast-paced hustle and bustle. Also, like New York, it’s wonderful to “escape” the city by chilling out in a beautiful park or green space.
New York has its famous Central Park — an enormous oasis of calm and tranquillity. London, on the other hand, doesn’t have one single “green space” — it has 3,000.
Did you know that while your London hotel room may not be large enough to swing a cat in, a whopping 40% of London is well-maintained green space for you to enjoy?
These range from those barely larger than a standard house block, through to vast Richmond Park, made up of almost 2,500 acres.
There’s no one official “best”
Winning tip: Soup of biodiversity, Gwent
Occupying the last remaining piece of fenland on the Gwent Levels is Magor Marsh nature reserve. This is low-lying land, bordering the urban spread of Chepstow and Newport, and is a special place for wildlife, with big skies overhead and miles of waterways that are not only a soup of biodiversity but protect the area from Severn estuary floods. At Magor Marsh you can walk along boardwalks near where monks once worked to reclaim the land from the sea, through reed beds with Cetti’s warblers singing wildly, water voles dashing off, the sound of distant cuckoos floating on the air and plenty of waterfowl. If you are really lucky you may catch the splash of an otter or, by peering into the ancient reeds, spot a magnificent diving beetle glistening in the water.
• Free to enter, no dogs permitted, gwentwildlife.org
Croydon may be the last place you’d expect to find a wildlife paradise but if you head south-east of the town into the North Downs and Hutchinson’s Bank, you won’t be disappointed. Off Featherbed Lane in New Addington, the reserve is home to 40 of the UK’s 59 butterfly species, several varieties of orchid and a host of other invertebrates and wildflowers. It is a true green-space gem. Paths (some quite steep) crisscross the dry valley over the chalk grassland meadows and along woodland