The best local parks to exercise and unwind this Spring

Lloyd Park. Pic: Ewan Munro

By Patryk Krych and Nozrul Ahmed

The trees are turning green and the evenings are getting lighter. Springtime only comes once a year, so it’s important to enjoy it while it lasts. However, with the lockdown restrictions brought on by the pandemic, this can be difficult.

At the moment, the lock down restrictions dictate that you can only go out locally, and with no more than one member of another household – be it for socialising or exercise.

All hospitality venues and gyms are still shut down, but there are still plenty of interesting places to go in our boroughs where you can enjoy the arrival of Spring. But remember to stay local.

Here are some of the best, starting with:

Lloyd Park

Found in Croydon along Coombe Road, Lloyd Park [see pic above] provides plenty of opportunity for leisure, workout or a simple springtime walk. What’s more, it’s open most hours from 8am until 8:30pm.

The area has a host of attractions that are best experienced during the spring – such as the woodlands that return to their green colours, and an outdoor gym and playground that are always accessible and more enjoyable with the warming weather. It’s an expansive area that often hosts events and festivals, such as the 2019 ‘The Ends’ festival. You’d be hard-pressed to find events going on during the pandemic, but the area is always nice for a springtime visit.
Google Maps Link Here.

Victoria Park

Opened to the public in 1845, Victoria Park is the biggest park in Tower Hamlets and one of London’s most visited green areas with approximately12 million visitors per year.

Victoria Park – otherwise known as ‘Vicky Park’ or the ‘People’s Park’– is a great location to visit during a time when it is as important as ever to remain positive and hopeful about the future. More on the park and its pandemic precautions can be found here.
Google Maps Link Here.

Victoria Park. Pic: Ewan Munro

Lewisham Park

Initially set out as a garden and named after the borough it’s found in, Lewisham Park has been evolved into a park now regularly visited by many of the locals in the area.

Lewisham Park provides a play area for under-7’s, as well as 7-13 year olds and a spacious basketball court to enjoy. With a huge number of trees spread across the space of Lewisham Park, there is more than enough space for yourself and your friends and family to have a little picnic and enjoy some shade on a sunny day. For more information on the park and its restrictions, check here.
Google Maps Link Here.

Lewisham Park. Pic: GoParks London

Park Hill Park

Croydon’s central park of Park Hill is renowned for its well-preserved nature, history and recreation ground. From the walled herb garden to the quiet walks, there’s plenty to enjoy about the park during spring.

The park runs from Barclay Road to Coombe Road, with tennis and basketball courts available for those who are interested in a little workout, as well as community events involving gardening upkeep of the area. This is particularly vital in spring, where daffodils start to bloom, and the weather grows warmer. Though most events may be cancelled due to restrictions, the changeover from winter to spring is still a transition worth witnessing during a quiet stroll through the park.
Google Maps Link Here.

Park Hill Park. Pic: Peter Trimming

Springfield Park

This park, found in the Upper Clapton area of Hackney, is a great place to visit during springtime both for its period of bloom and the Spring Hill Recreation Ground – which makes up a Northern part of the public park.

The park is made up of formal gardens with a heavy focus on nature, and has been since its foundation in 1905 on 61 Ashtead Road. It has much less to offer in terms of springtime entertainment, with its main pull being the fact that it isn’t quite as popularly visited as other East London parks. During a time of pandemic concern, that might be a particularly attractive notion.

The Spring Hill Recreation Ground is nearby, offering a gym, sauna, swimming pool, as well as fitness classes. Only an hour is allocated to each activity however, due to current restrictions. The majority of these require booking, but have no cost otherwise.
Google Maps Link Here.

Springfield Park. Pic: Loz Pycock

Mountsfield Park

Found along Stainton Road in Lewisham, Catford, near to Hither Green is a public space with a surprising number of facilities. From a tennis court, to a band stand, the area offers plenty in terms of activity – spring-centred activity included.

Featuring a huge open field and colourful flower gardens, Mountsfield Park is the perfect getaway on a weekend. With steep hills for walking and running, this park would be an ideal location to go for a run to burn some lockdown calories. Coffee shops and kids play areas surround the area with nice benches and space for shade under trees; making it a must visit park for families. More information and opening times are available here.
Google Maps Link Here.

Mountsfield Park. Pic: Malc McDonald

St. Mary’s Secret Garden

This ‘secret’ garden on 50 Pearson Street in Haggerston, Hackney, is open to the public despite feeling very much like a private place. A variety of fun activities are offered here, the majority best experienced during springtime when the beehives are active, and the flowers are in bloom.

Due to the pandemic, the secret park is only open on Tuesdays with more information available here. You can join in on gardening activities, or look into the provided horticultural therapy for people with disabilities, long term health problems and mental complications.

You can come either for the activities or for the springtime beauty and quiet – it’s up to you. Either way, it’s a quiet and remarkable place.
Google Maps Link Here.

St. Mary’s Secret Garden. Pic: David Hawgood

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

This park was built in 2012 as a sporting complex for the Olympics and Paralympics. As such, it makes for a good place to visit for both springtime leisure and light exercise.

A small part of Olympic Park is in Bow; district in Tower Hamlets, thus making the park a part of the borough as a host. The Olympic Park hosted the 2012 London Olympics, and with the park being long enough to spread across two different boroughs, it is undoubtedly a must-visit as a getaway for a walk or a run during the current national lockdown. The biggest park from all those mentioned across this article, the Olympic Park provides the widest range of areas to visit and walk through for those who live in the Tower Hamlets borough More on the Olympic Park activities and pandemic securities can be found here.
Google Maps Link Here.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Pic: Julian Walker

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