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Ravensbury Park

Home > London > Fun Things To Do | Nature | Outdoor | Parks | Playgrounds
by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published January 12th 2014
Every Bird but a Raven
Ravensbury Park
Ravensbury Park, Morden Road

It may have been muddy from all the recent rain, but the sun was shining, and the weather warm. Taking advantage of this fair Saturday, I put on my hiking boots and set out for Ravensbury Park. Only a quarter of an hour's walk away from my house, I had yet to visit this park, which is situated on Morden Road.

ravensbury park, brunch bar
Brunch Bar

Although the main entrance is on a main road, once inside, you forget about the cars, and the factories, and the business of everyday life. I think this is helped by it being situated next to a cafe called the Brunch Bar. Brunch is something you eat when you have time on your hands; you can afford to have a lay in and eat late.

ravensbury park
A View From a Bridge

In the seventeenth and eighteenth century, Ravensbury Park was part of a Manor House estate owned by John Arbuthnott. The River Wandle, which ran through the area was of great importance due to the many industries that utilised it; these included a mill and calico factory.

ravensbury park, river wandle
River Wandle

By 1885, the Manor house was in a state of disrepair and ended up being demolished. Over the coming years many different types of plants began to grow around the site, including conifers and broadleaf woodland. Part of the estate was sold in the early twentieth century, but the council managed to buy the rest of the land and develop into a recreational public park, which opened in 1930.

ravensbury park, playground

Near the entrance there is a playground full of colourful equipment. Young children will enjoy the stepping stone toadstools, seesaw, and slide.

While older children can challenge themselves to climbing rope ladders, walls, and rocks.

ravensbury park

There are a great variety of trees in Ravensbury Park, some of which date back to 1753, and many of which have even won awards. For example, the giant London Planes can reach thirty metres, and were voted Favourite Tree in Merton in 2007. The rarest tree in the park is called Californian Laurel; an eighteen metre evergreen with fragrant willow-shaped leaves, it also won Favourite Tree in Merton in back in 2005. Other plants include the Chinese Cowtail Pine, Maidenhair, Swamp Cypress, and Cedar of Lebanon.

ravensbury park, squirrels
Squirrels playing tag.

With the diversity of plants comes a diversity of animals. After not seeing any squirrels around my house for several months, I was thrilled to see dozens frolicking about the park, running along walls, hopping across the grass, and playing tag in the trees. Bats use the trees for roosting and as pitstops on commutes, while insects create homes inside the woodwork, and pollinate the flowers. While it is home to pleasant bugs like butterflies, moths, beetles, and bees, the ones I encountered most on my journey were pesky gnats and midges hovering in your face. I'm used to this; living by a river, it is to be expected.

river wandle

The Wandle is a rare example of a chalk river in London, and the section that runs through Ravensbury has a fast flowing current that attracts all sorts of fish and wetland birds.

ravensbury park, river wandle, ducks
Ducks on the river.

As I was walking along, I saw a flock of ducks, some cygnets, and the odd coot and moorhen. Other birds include woodpeckers, grebe, birds of prey, and the occasional kingfisher.

In the shrubbery I spotted a rather plump robin, probably search for a place to build a nest, and then above me singing on the branches, were about half a dozen parakeets.

ravensbury park, swans

My pleasant afternoon out unfortunately came to a rather sad end. I was watching some swans from the bridge, then crossed over, where I saw a fisherman. I continued up the path, passed a lady walking her dog, then reached the end of the route. As I made my way back, the lady and the fisherman were talking; they stopped me and pointed to the other side of the river where something white was bobbing on the water. Somehow a low-flying swan had just crashed straight into the bridge, knocked itself out, and drowned in the water.

We didn't feel we could just leave it there, so the woman called the RSPCA. As there was nothing I could do, I made my way back home.
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Why? Beautiful place to walk
When: 8am-dusk
Where: Morden Road
Cost: Free
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