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Secret Places for Autumn in London

We are spoiled in London for green spaces, those happy places where memories are made and life is lived, where we all played.  The green spaces of London are not just the Royal Parks of which there are 8 but the ones than often are more practical, they form a cut through as you run for the bus or where you take the kids for a Sunday kick-about the; commons, heaths, woods, parks, meadows are the places where we grow up through our seasons too. As young kids we met strangers on the field of play who we may still have as friends to this day.

They are all a bus ride away from the centre of town and a great day out, just remember boots are required, especially at this time of year.

One of my favourite London woods in Autumn would have to be Oxleas Wood I go there a lot but I still haven’t been to all parts of it yet, it covers approx 180 acres so there is a lot to discover.   It adjoins other parks and meadows between Eltham and Bexley.  I usually drive to a different side each time I visit and treck either up or down hill.  I go, to walk and to; see the colours of Autumn, hear the dawn chorus birdsong, have an amazingly calorific but gorgeous hot chocolate from the cafe with whipped cream and a flake……. well why not?  Some parts date back over 8,000 years to the end of the last Ice Age. At this time of year the colours  are a visual assault, but it wont last for long, another week at most.

Within the woods and the adjoining parklands there is a thriving honeybee apiary, a folly, many paths that lead to openings and some lovely enclaves and structures and an amazing collection of trees.  It’s home to dog walkers, artists, foragers, hikers, history buffs, photographers and people who just want to breath and take their mind away from other things.  Often you can find yourself alone with nature in the middle of the trees, wondering at nothing at everything and somehow retracing your steps and feeling at peace.

Another spot that I always recommend to friends who look at me bewildered ” a not so secret, secret place” is the  farm in Maryon Wilson Park in Charlton, the funny quirky mix of chickens with hats (very ornate) always make me laugh, the deer and the pigs and the horses are entertaining with their antics.  For those exploring with children you can cross over to Charlton Park where there is an outside gym and kids playground, as well as the gorgeous Jacobean Mansion and you can take a pit stop for drinks from the cute little cafe in the hut.

One of my usual heaths on a Sunday is Blackheath which to me is a fun green intersection used by many for sunday football/rugby, kite flying, army fitness bootcamps.  Where you can see the saucy crows and rooks squabbling near the tea-hut or the Canada geese fattening themselves up.  The heath is nestled between Blackheath, Greenwich and Lewisham.  I often walk through the park in Greenwich “uphill” and cross the heath to meet friends for a leisurely wander around the farmers market “its only a small one” and then for a coffee or lunch afterwards in Blackheath or at a house nearby.  It’s a nice way to spend a few hours ahead of the working week.

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