The next time somebody tells you that London is all concrete and no nature, tut loudly and send them a link to this article. Or, better still, take them to one of these beautiful lakes within the city. That’ll show them. Quite literally.
15 picturesque London lakes
1. Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds
Famed across the world for its open-air swimming lakes, Hampstead Heath is the perfect place to go on a warm day – or a cold one if you’re brave and own a wetsuit. A brisk walk up to the summit of Parliament Hill should quickly banish any chills though!
2. Victoria Park
Boasting 86.18 hectares of open space, two boating lakes (one is for model boats only), a splash pool, and a Chinese pagoda, Victoria Park was voted the people’s favourite park back in 2014. (Yep, it’s still holding on to that one. I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been another competition since though, so it’s still technically the reigning champion). The West Boating Lake is probably the most scenic part, but little ‘uns will love the splash pool.
3. The Serpentine, Hyde Park
Go for a swim, take out a pedalo or row row row your boat gently down the, er, Serpentine. Hyde Park is also home to the UK’s first Solarshuttle, a seriously impressive craft that floats silently across the lake, powered only by the sunshine! Afterwards, enjoy a meal or a drink at one of the cafes in the park and head to the Serpentine Galleries for a bit of art and some contemporary architecture. You’ll find more info here.
4. Regent’s Park
Regent’s Park is brilliant for a lot of reasons, including its extensive sports facilities and its open air theatre – but mostly because it has two boating lakes, including a separate one for children. Which of course means that your boat races and pirate raids will be amongst only those who are going to take the whole business seriously.
5. Battersea Park
The lake at Battersea Park has been a popular spot for postcard producers (what a job!) and this should come as no surprise. It’s surrounded by tons of flora and fauna, and makes a beautiful spot for a stroll. Combine it with an excursion to the rose garden and Peace Pagoda and you’ll quickly see why this is one of the best parks south of the river.
6. Greenwich Park Boating Pond
Ok so this one barely counts as a lake, but Greenwich Park is a fantastic place to visit so we thought we’d throw it into the mix. The park is home to The Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian of the World (that’s the line that divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth), with amazing panoramic views of the city, and topping off a day here with a jaunt around the lake is exactly what we need.
7. St James’s Park
St James’s Park lake is home to a huge collection of waterfowl, as well as the resident pelicans that were first donated by a Russian Ambassador in 1664, and have been regularly gifted ever since (you can watch them being fed every day between 2.30 and 3pm). Also, thanks to its very central location, you can enjoy spectacular views of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye and Horse Guards Parade from The Blue Bridge.
8. Alexandra Palace Boating Lake
Pick your vehicle (there’s dragons and racing cars and swans) and race your mates around the lake at Ally Pally. Afterwards, grab a drink or some food at the Lakeside Cafe and explore the beautiful surrounding parklands, which command impressive views over London.
All that Crystal Palace Park is missing is a palace, or at least a replacement for the one which burned down. Not only is there a beautiful fishing lake, but you can also get lost in the maze and spot the iconic Crystal Palace dinosaurs, which were co-erected by the founder of the Natural History Museum. It’s basically London’s very own Jurassic Park. You’ll find more info here.
11. Hollow Ponds
Epping may be a little further out than many of the central London parks and lakes, but it’s definitely worth the journey. Encompassed by the beautiful woodlands of Epping Forest, the Hollow Ponds are a great place to hire a boat and admire the wildlife. Really, a leisure row under the summer sun sounds dreamy right about now…
12. Ruislip Lido
Can you believe this picture was taken in actual London?! Ruislip Lido is a 60-acre lake surrounded by sandy beaches and Britain’s longest 12 inch gauge railway. You’re not allowed to actually swim in it anymore, but you can sunbathe and pretend you’re on a tropical island. Find more info here.
13. Burgess Park
A real hidden gem amongst our roundup of London lakes, Burgess Park boasts some cracking views of the London skyline, and the lake is a beautiful spot to laze around in the summer. You’re allowed to fish if you purchase a permit, and BBQs are okay as long as you’re in one of the designated areas. More info can be found here.
14. Woodbury Wetlands
Woodberry Wetlands opened to the public back in 2016 for the first time in 180 years. Just a 10 minute walk from Manor House tube station, it’s so hard to believe you’re this close to the hustle and bustle when you’re surrounded by so much wildlife. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a kingfisher darting across the water! Find out more here.
A little further down the road, you’ll find Europe’s largest urban wetlands, that opened to the public towards the end of 2017. Offering 13 miles of path to explore and plenty of wildlife to spot, Walthamstow Wetlands is worth the 15 minute journey from central London. See more info here.
Also published on Medium.