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Greenwich Park

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Published March 29th 2011
It has to be said, you do need to put in a bit of legwork when it comes to tackling Greenwich Park, especially if, like most visitors, you approach it from Cutty Sark DLR station or Greenwich train station. The park is on quite an incline, you see.

The effort you have to put in means that taking a stroll here is no walk in the park, even though you'll be walking in the park. And what a lovely park it is too.

If you go there wanting a leisurely ramble, be sure to take your time as you make your way to the top. If the weather allows and the ground is dry, plop yourself down on the grass to catch your breath now and then.

When you reach the top, your calorie expenditure will be rewarded with lovely panoramic views towards the Thames, with Canary Wharf straight ahead, and the O2 Arena just to your right.

Perched on the top of the park is the famous Royal Observatory. This is where you'll find the prime meridian, the line of zero degrees longitude, shown on many maps of the world.

The line divides the eastern and western hemispheres a definite line-straddling photo opportunity if ever there was, although since March 2011 the observatory has been charging 10 for the privilege (there's a brass strip in the courtyard of the observatory for photos).

Thinking about it, the (invisible) line obviously cuts right through the park, so work out where it passes (this map shows you exactly), put a scarf down and straddle that for free. Just make sure someone is there taking a photo of you or it might look a bit odd.

Once you've had your fill of straddling, it'll be time to explore the rest of the park. There's plenty here, packed among its 183 acres.

Statues and monuments include those to the great explorer Captain Cook, as well as King William IV.

The National Maritime Museum and the Old Royal Naval College are also here.

If walking about Greenwich Park doesn't raise your pulse enough, you can cycle on the roads and designated cycle paths, or play tennis on one of the park's six courts. You'll also find a putting green beside the tennis courts.

The park contains a playground to keep the kids entertained, as well as a boating lake. The little ones will also be interested in visiting the park's deer enclosure, which includes both fallow deer and red deer.

For sustenance and a sit down, there are plenty of places within the park that'll sort you out. These include the Pavilion Tea House (outdoor seating; food and drink; beautifully elegant
building); the Observatory Cafe (broad range of snacks); Cow and Coffee Bean (ice cream, milkshakes and snacks); and the Honest Sausage (you guessed it sausages, though how honest they are I really can't tell you).

Because it's a little away from the centre of the capital, Greenwich Park has a more relaxed feel about it than, say, Hyde Park or Green Park. It also has those wonderful views.
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Why? You can pass from the western hemisphere to the eastern hemisphere in a single step!
When: Anytime
Where: Greenwich Park, Shooters Hill Road, London.
Cost: Free
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