Home Lifestyle London’s secret nature reserve is just minutes from Kings Cross

London’s secret nature reserve is just minutes from Kings Cross


Camley Street Natural Park in London’s King’s Cross is a peaceful place (Picture: Shutterstock / Jake Bernard)

We all know about London’s vast green spaces like Hyde Park and Battersea Park, but there’s a lesser-known nature reserve in the heart of London you likely never knew was there.

Just a short walk from King’s Cross station, you can wander through Camley Street Natural Park, an urban oasis with over-water walkways and forested trails.

With opportunities for children to lean about the birds, bugs and plant life that dwell there, it’s great for a family day out, and there’s even an on-site café.

Run by volunteers from the London Wildlife Trust, the park is one of London’s hidden gems, dubbed a ‘peaceful respite’ by visitors.

Nestled between King’s Cross and St Pancras, the nature reserve is free to visit and has been open every day since 1985.

The park was once a site for coal drops for King’s Cross Railway Station, before being demolished in the 1960s.

After being shut down it was colonised by nature, so the Trust campaigned to save it from development – and it was successful.

The park boasts woodland and grassland, and even wetland habitats which are home to countless species.

If you’re lucky, you may even see pikes (a type of fish), kingfishers and dragonflies.

According to the WildLondon website the best time to visit is from April to September – but it’s open year-round.

A TikTok post from @loveandlondon about the hidden park hit nearly 600,000 views and got 26,000 likes, with plenty in the comments sharing how they’d never heard of the secret reserve before.

Camley Street Natural Park is a nature reserve in the centre of the Capital (Picture: Getty Images)

One TikToker wrote: ‘Bruv even Londoners don’t know about these places, I don’t know what you’re on about.’

Another said: ‘I suspect a lot of Londoners haven’t heard of it either! But it’s a lovely little oasis among all the urbanity.’

‘Always hidden in plain sight,’ said another.

The two acre park is sat on Regents Canal but it isn’t dog friendly – only service dogs are allowed.

It’s received some great reviews too. Dean S wrote on TripAdvisor: ‘A small nature park adjacent to Regent’s canal in a reclaimed industrial site. A peaceful respite in the midst of London. They have a coffee shop that offers outdoor tables, pastries, and sandwiches at reasonable prices.’

Elaine W shared: ‘Short walk from Kings Cross and Coal Drops Yard. Lovely café with hot and cold drinks. Super choice of cakes. Bagels cooked to order served with crisps.

‘Lovely small wildlife area with labels as you explore the various woodland paths. Area and equipment for pond dipping. A great hidden gem . You can also watch the canal boats entering the locks from here too! Super.’

Camley Street Nature Park isn’t the only park in London you’ve likely not heard of though. Barnsbury Wood in Islington is also a great day out.

The secret nature reserve has over-water walkways and wetlands with lots of wildlife (Picture: @loveandlondon)

The little-known conservation site is brimming with nature, covering just 3,500 square metres, and was built in the 1840s by George Thornhill, who owned the land, before being left to rewild when it was eventually abandoned.

The council bought the land, then overgrown with shrubs and trees, in 1974 to build on it, but decided it should be conserved as a Local Nature Reserve in the 1990s. 

However, it’s only open two hours a week, from 2pm to 4pm on a Tuesday, during October to June, and 2pm to 4pm on a Saturday from July to the end of September.

Three longer walks around London:

Fancy a longer walk? A recent survey by Cotswold Outdoor found that 47% of people say that going on long walks improves their mental health.

These longer walks just outside of the capital might be what you’re after.

Marlpit Hill, Kent

This walk starts and ends at the family-friendly Swan Pub in Edenbridge, takes around two hours to complete, and while moderate, includes several stiles.

How to get there: You can take the train from London Bridge to Marlpit. It takes one hour. 

Goring Gap and the Thames Path, Oxfordshire

Allow around 2.5 hours for this scenic walk beginning in Oxfordshire, which follows the Thames Valley and takes you past Hartslock Nature Reserve.

How to get there: You can take the train from London Paddington to Goring & Streatley station in about 50 minutes. 

Box Hill, Surrey

This circular walk, known as Happy Valley, is perfect for getting your endorphins going. Make sure to take a moment at the Salomons Memorial Viewpoint and soak in the views. This walk does have some steep steps. 

How to get there: Take the train from London Victoria to Box Hill and Westhumble station in under an hour. 

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