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 goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published July 28th 2014
Go Boating on the Lake
There are eight royal parks in London, but out of all of them, The Regent's Park has probably got the most in terms of leisure activities. With over a hundred acres dedicated to sporting facilities, it has the largest outdoor sports area in Central London. What most people know Regent's Park for most, however is London Zoo. I have been to the zoo a few times, but it is expensive, so opting for a spend-free day, I decided to explore the park itself.
It was after the dissolution of the monasteries that King Henry VII appropriated the land, and turned it into a royal park, but it was not until 1811 when it began to take shape to what we know the park to be today. The then Prince Regent, George IV commissioned architect John Nash to design the area, which was originally meant to have a palace. This idea was eventually scrapped, but all the terrace houses circling Regent's Park are Nash's handy work.
Marylebone Green Playground
The Regent's Park opened to the public in 1835, and has since then been an extremely popular visitor attraction. There are many entrances, most of which can be entered through grand looking black gates. I, however, went through a more humble entrance down Park Square, which leads straight to Marylebone Green Playground.
Take a left, and you will find yourself at Outer Circle, a road, that as the name suggests, circles round the outskirts of the park. There is also an Inner Circle.
Cross the road, and you will reach the Boating Lake, where you are allowed to hire a row boat or pedalo for up to an hour. A few kids were wearing life jackets, but most people weren't. The lake is only four feet deep. This is because in 1867, forty people died after the frozen collapsed, causing over two hundred people fall into the lake. It was drained, and made shallower before reopening to the public.
If you are not interested in boating, then simply enjoy the wildlife. Regent's Park has over ninety species of waterfowl, including numerous breeds of ducks and geese.
Herons in the park.
But if St. James's Park is famous for its pelicans, Regent's Park's equivalent is its herons. The herons are very tame and happy to right up close; one wandered right across my path. I expect the reason for this is because a lot of people feed the birds. Although feeding is allowed, is a policy about which birds you can and cannot feed, and what you are allowed to feed them.
Queen Mary's Gardens
If you travel past the boating cafe, then you will eventually get to London Zoo, but I crossed York Bridge, which leads to Queen Mary's Gardens. Originally a plant nursery, it was re-developed into a series of beautiful ornamental gardens in 1932.
The 'Umbridge Garden'
Most sections are freely available to walk through, but there is one section cordoned off for viewing only. A pink paradise, it is what I call The Umbridge Garden. Replace the statue with one of a kitten, and it would be complete.
The Regent's Park's Open Air Theatre is in the Formal Italian Garden, adjacent to a fountain depicting Triton with mermaids.
A gardener made out of garden.
Tall hedges take you through a twisty maze-like path; many of these hedges have been carefully pruned into various shapes, from your common pyramid to spirals. The most impressive of all is at the end of the trail: a gardener with a watering can and wheel barrow.
English Rose Garden
Around the corner is the most impressive garden of all. As you walk into the English Rose Garden, you'll be greeted with the flowers' lovely perfume, and a spectacular array of colour. The garden has eighty-five varieties, totalling approximately twelve thousand roses.
But before you even know it, England's green and pleasant land has on taken an oriental note, as it melds seamlessly into the Japanese Garden.
I exited Queen Mary's Garden and walked across the Inner Circle, which is where the tennis courts are. Anyone can play, where or not you are a member, and it is not necessary to book (but to guarantee a court, it is recommended).
Next to the tennis court is a wildlife garden, with bug houses, ponds, and a newt sculpture built by volunteers. There is plenty more of Regent's Park to explore as well, and makes for a lovely day out.