Regents Park is one of the most popular parks in London. Covering 410 acres, the park was originally hunting ground for Henry VIII. The modern park was designed by John Nash in 1811 and remained in royal hands until being opened to the public in 1845. It has something for everyone, with formal gardens, playing fields, sports areas, boating lakes, cafés, hidden gardens, canal and a zoo. It is easy to spend the whole day here.
Queen Mary Gardens The Queen Mary Gardens fills the whole of the inner circle. It is best known for the Rose Gardens where over 400 different varieties of roses can be found. Beside the rose gardens is a lake with various ornamental ducks, large carp, herrons and occasional terrapin. A small island in the middle has a meandering path through a rockery garden.
Behind the lake a waterfall descends from a viewpoint at the highest point in the gardens. Aside from the rose gardens, this part of the park also contains a large fountain, the Garden Café and the famous Open Air Theatre with a lively summer programme. Several hours can be spent looking at the plants, enjoying an ice cream and relaxing on the lawns. In the summer, deck-chairs can be hired.
The boating lake spans a large section of the southern part of the park, surrounded by a walking trail and spanned by bridges. On it you will find many geese and swans and other waterfowl throughout the year. Rowing boats and pedalos can be hired with prices starting from £7 per hour from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm from April through to September. Here also is a small café and a new playground that opened in 2010. On the other side of the lake is band stand which was bombed by the IRA in 1982, an ice-cream stall and hireable deck chairs.
Other Formal Gardens The South East section of the park, closest to Regents Park and Great Portland Street tube station is known as the Avenue Gardens, so called for the broad avenue that runs through it to the northern part of the park. The area is supposed to be ball free, with plenty of places to relax on grass and at one time contained a bog garden.
St John's Lodge Gardens is a hidden gem within the park. Accessed via a gate in the Inner Circle, these gardens are relatively quiet, with beautiful flowerbeds, a small pond and several statues and sculptures. It is tucked away, visited by few.
The North Section of Regents Park The northern section of the park is much more open, used mostly for sporting activities. Within this area are marked football, cricket and rounders pitches, which can be hired from The Hub. This is a circular café and sports facility built on a small mound in the centre of the sports field, overlooking a cricket pitch. Those playing here may hear the occasional lion roar emanating from London Zoo, at the northern end of the park. On a windy day, these fields are good for kite flying. Many relax here during the summer, and it is possible to join one of the informal groups playing.
Travel to Regents Park
• Tube: Baker Street, Regents Park and Great Portland Street tube stations.
• Bus: Marylebone Road (18, 27, 30, 205, 205X, 453, N18, N205)
As you can see, Regents Park has a lot to offer. As for it being the Number One park of London, that is a personal opinion.