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Sweating it out

Commonly known as The Big Smoke, London is actually one of the leafiest major cities in the world with over 35,000 acres of parks, woodland and general green spaces (picture the same number of soccer pitches and you’ll get the idea). In the midst of our hottest summer in many years, we’ve explored what Londoners do to cool down, warm up and make the most of the great British outdoors.

Hampstead Mixed Bathing Ponds

Hampstead Heath

One of the wildest parks in London, the heath is a sprawling woodland rolling up to the highest point of London for incredible views of the city below and sloping down to refreshing bathing ponds for those magical summer swims. Londoners also go here for long picnics in the grass, gruelling work outs or just for a relaxing stroll. It is a Mecca for dog walkers (and dogs!) and whilst being one of London’s most popular parks, it never feels too crowded given its size and vast lay out. For a summer’s day well spent; you can’t beat the Heath!

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (Cinema)

Britain’s oldest, largest, professional theatre feels like a Shakespearean amphitheatre when you are sitting in it. You can spend a perfect summer evening watching a classic movie under the stars, trees swaying lightly and a bottle of wine between you and your date/friend/mum. Halcyon days.

Hyde Park & The Serpentine Lido

The largest of the four Royal parks that loop around Kensington Palace and lead up to Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park is a manicured jewel smack bang in central London. The Serpentine river separates it from Kensington Gardens and the lido (British word for a public open air swimming area) is a very popular spot for some serious lane swimming in the fresh, cool Royal waters. You can also rent row boats on the wider river if you want to stay dry but still make the most of the beautiful surroundings.

Richmond Park

The actual largest Royal park, Richmond Park is a truly breathtaking area in the south west of the city. With over 600 wild deer roaming the land and some of London’s oldest, biggest oak trees, it is hard to find a better picnic spot in London. It feels like you’re in the deepest countryside for a few blissful hours but then you can wander down to Richmond village and grab a beer on the river.

Park Squad

There are over one hundred more parks around the city where young Londoners bring disposable BBQs and quaffable wine or cider; on weeknights and weekends alike. Food delivery companies are now offering to deliver to wherever you are in the park making those impromptu, al fresco dinners easier than ever.

So there you have the best spots to spend long summer days and nights in the Big Smoke. And when the leaves start to change and fall and Londoners retreat from the parks to the cosy pubs for fireside roast dinners, we’ll tell you where and how to spend the colder months too.

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