About Sue H
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Jun. 2014
I love travelling but London is my thing. I design and organise private tailor made tours of London and love exploring this great city.
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Gardens, National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas
Nature & Wildlife Areas
Hyde Park is central London’s largest park and exploring it is a must but just remember it is big enough to get lost in! There is something for everyone to enjoy from walks through its wide open spaces, to boating on the Serpentine Lake, to horse riding, a game of tennis or a chance to swim in the lake. Kensington Gardens adjoins Hyde Park and here you find Kensington Palace where Prince William and Kate live with Prince George. (Although you can visit the palace I'm afraid you are unlikely to spot these royals!) There are two free art galleries as well as the Princess Diana Memorial Playgrounds and Fountain for children and the statue of Peter Pan. Hyde Park is the location for many great open air concerts, as well as the famous Speakers’ Corner where anyone can speak their piece. There’s plenty of space to play ball games or you can just lie down, have a picnic and rest from the busy task of visiting London.
This central park has wonderful ornamental gardens as well of plenty of grassy areas for picnics, along with London’s largest open area for sports with nearly 100 acres of park set aside for games. There are boating lakes where you can hire a pedalo or rowing boat, and water fowl lakes where resident and migrating birds live. The park is also home to the famous London Zoo. Summer brings the ever popular open air theatre season, which is a joy. You might also enjoy taking a deep breath in the rose gardens when you visit, to capture the heady scent of 12,000 roses! There are cafes dotted around the park and be sure to look out for the wonderful cream terraces of buildings circling the park, all owned by the Queen.
St James’s Park is right in the centre of London running from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade, making it a great way to walk between these two major London landmarks. It has The Mall along one side of the park with St James’s Palace, Clarence House and Admiralty Arch to enjoy. There are beautifully planted flower beds and a lovely lake which extends the full length of the park. In the lake is the unexpected sight of several pelicans, which were a gift from the Russian Ambassador back in 1664 and they have flourished here ever since with a second breed added to the group in 2013 thanks to the city of Prague. This is a wonderful park to rest in, taking a well-earned break from the surrounding concentration of sights.
Richmond Park is a little way out of the centre of London although not too far as you can still see the City’s skyscrapers from here. It is a lovely open space, full of ancient trees, and large enough to have small roads running through it, for cars and cycles. Richmond Park is home to a particular feature that draws visitors every year - herds of over 600 Red and Fallow deer. It’s great to pull over and watch them close up, but not too close to disturb them. Richmond is the largest of the Royal Parks, and was set up as a walled deer hunting park by King Charles 1 back in the 1600s. One of the most popular areas to explore is the Isabella Plantation, ornamental woodland gardens and ponds which are home to many birds, but the whole park is a great place for long walks.
The Thames Path was voted the world’s number two urban walk in 2013 - a well-deserved award! Not many people manage the full 294 kilometres but the central section along the south bank of the River Thames is a wonderful way to explore London. A manageable stroll will take you past Tower Bridge, City Hall, The Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, the National Theatre, the Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye. On the opposite bank you will see the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Somerset House and the Houses of Parliament to name but a few sights. What other walk could offer you that much? On your way you will pass green spaces, street entertainers and plenty of places to sit and enjoy the views.
Greenwich Park offers some of the best views over London from the top of its hill from where you can see all of Greenwich’s famous old buildings, the new towers of Canary Wharf and the skylines of the City and central London a little further down the river Thames. The park itself was home to the show jumping in the 2012 London Olympics and offers wonderful open spaces as well as the adjacent Royal Observatory. Here you'll find the Prime Meridian line at zero degrees longitude, the Royal Maritime Museum and Queen’s House. Look out for the ancient trees, the bats and the birds as well as the bees who love the flower beds. This is the oldest of London’s eight royal parks and has Roman remains within it.
Trafalgar Square is at the heart of London and is a great place to explore and use as a starting point for the surrounding area which is full of sights. The Square itself is a grand open space, home to Nelson’s Column and the famous lions which you can climb on for a great photo op. You have the Fourth Plinth topped with temporary contemporary art and the two sets of beautiful fountains. The Square’s open spaces are used for all kinds of events so you are likely to stumble upon something fun happening and it’s a good place to hang out. On the northern edge is the National Gallery with enough great paintings to satisfy any art lover.
Holland Park in west London offers so much variety and is famous for its tranquillity. The Kyoto Japanese garden is a zen experience with its waterfalls and beautiful planting and, in contrast, the northern part of the park is semi-wild woodland. There are sports fields and children’s play areas as well. In the summer the park is home to the Opera Holland Park season with good quality performances, aiming to make opera more accessible to all.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew are world famous for their immense glass houses and the crucial role they have played in plant conservation for the planet. As you enter the Palm House you step into another climate and can feel the humidity shoot up. It was built in Victorian times to accommodate the exotic plants brought back by explorers. The palm trees now reach up to the roof 19 metres above you and spiral staircases take you to rooftop walkways to get a great view of the 150 metres of planted beds. An outdoor treetop walkway is great as long as heights are not a problem for you. If so not to worry, there's lots else to explore including Kew Palace, the famous home and gardens of King George lll (as in the ‘The Madness of King George’). There are unusual and beautiful plants everywhere you look, some 250 year old trees, formal gardens, lakes and great walks. A cafe will refresh and the shop will cater for your every gardening need.
The London Wetlands Centre is a hidden gem, an urban oasis not far from the centre of London where you could think you were in the middle of nowhere! It’s an important area for resident and migrating birds and there are hides dotted around for you to sit quietly and see how many bird species you can spot. More active is feeding time in the otter pool where they will treat you to their delightful play. There are board walks to take you around and the full circuit is a decent walk for enjoying the varied plants as well as the wildlife.