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Autumn Colours in London

London is awash with open spaces and they're primed to set themselves alight in all the splendour of autumn colour. Wander along its pretty winding trails with the scrunch of auburn leaves underfoot and the shock of crisp, cold air in your lungs. Enjoy the wide expanses of Bushy Park with its deer, the untamed wilderness of Hampstead Heath, or the diminutive beauty of Temple Gardens. Getting away from the city isnít hard either; the ancient oaks of Epping Forest are only half-an-hour away.

 
Explore on your own, join one of the organised, themed walks or get involved in some sporting fun - it's up to you. For those who like to keep on the move, why not follow the route of the Regentís Canal or amble along the river banks of Richmond? Get out and enjoy Londonís natural side in all its rich, rusty, autumn glory.

Autumn Colours in London
 

Hampstead Heath

Highgate Road, NW5
'Chronicles of Narnia' author, CS Lewis, lived near the Heath and local folklore asserts that it was its picturesque rises, ponds and copses which inspired his mystical land. The capitalís most extensive open space makes up what are affectionately and widely known as the Lungs of London.
 
Parliament Hill is a beacon in the midst of this sprawling expanse of natural beauty. Its summit provides a view of the city almost in its entirety. Spot the famous dome of St Paul's and the ultra-modern Canary Wharf Tower in the distance, both emerging through the haze. Atop the hill the autumnal breezes gust past - great for a spot of  kite-flying.
 
The Heath is renowned as a rich conservation area and parts of it are designated as areas of scientific interest by English Nature. Londoners flock to the refreshing waters of the Heathís celebrated ponds in the summer months but at this time of year itís more rewarding to while away an afternoon feeding the ducks or exploring the lush woodland, bogs, hedgerows and grassland. The last of the heather flowers proffer another chance to glimpse a final burst of summer colour. Children will adore the eight different play areas which include the petanque pitch and volleyball facilities on Parliament Hill.
 
Escape the pace of the city and breathe easy on the Heath. 
 
 
Hampstead Heath - Information | Hotels near Hampstead Heath
Autumn Colours in London
 

Richmond Riverside

Richmond, TW9
As summer fades and crowds disperse and leaves flutter to the ground, Richmond Riverside comes into its own in a blaze of autumnal colour. The borough boasts over 14,000 trees which means there is always a layer of bronze underfoot.
 
Float west to Richmond on a boat from Westminster Pier, which you can later re-board and ride down to Hampton Court Palace. Indulge in a leisurely lunch at one of the area's many riverside restaurants or settle down with a tasty pint at an historic pub. Packed to bursting point with parkland still replete with frolicking deer, it is a delightful place for a stroll.  Richmondís open spaces were famously the playground of Henry VII and thanks to its proximity to central London he built a palace here in 1497. Parts of the Old Palace are still visible, including the gate which stands in Old Palace Yard. The rest of the buildings that line the riverside are equally stunning, incorporating classical styles of the 17th to 19th centuries.  If it turns chilly, warm up with a visit to the Riverside Gallery in the Old Town Hall with its informative exhibition about the history of the area.
 
 
Richmond Riverside - Information  | Hotels near Richmond Riverside
Autumn Colours in London

Wetlands Centre

Queen Elizabeth Walk, SW13
Capital cities arenít normally breeding grounds for wildlife but this inspiring initiative offers the chance to see rare and beautiful wetland wildlife within the city's limits. Once summer draws to a close, visitors have the chance to observe birds migrating to warmer climes, opening the habitat up for larger, hardier species to fill the gap.
 
The centre opened in May 2000 and is the first project of its kind anywhere in the world.  Children and adults alike will marvel at the wealth of wildlife. There are over 140 wild birds, more than 300 species of butterflies and moths, 18 species of dragonflies and damselflies, and much more. The centre is a haven for the endangered Gadwall and Shoveler ducks and has acquired the status of Site of Special Scientific Interest because if it.
 
Enjoy their varied programme of events this autumn including Bat Walks and Bird Watching Courses.  Shrug off the city stress and escape to this natural haven that spans 105 acres in Barnes, south-west London. 
 
 
Wetlands Centre - Information   | Hotels near Wetlands Centre
Autumn Colours in London
 

Victoria Park

Approach Road, E2
One of Londonís best kept secrets, Victoria Park is a fantastic place to spend an autumn afternoon. Inside the park's boundaries countless varieties of trees stripe the skyline: oaks, horse chestnuts, cherries, hawthorns and even Kentucky coffee trees. The park is split in two by Grove Road. The smaller, western section contains the most picturesque of its lakes with a fully functioning fountain and the imposing Dogs of Alcibiades - two snarling sculptures.  Retreat to the quiet of the Old English Garden, a floral haven brimming with flowers and shrubs. Have a peek into the deer enclosure and let the kids run off some energy in the childrenís playground.
 
This, the cityís first public park, opened in the East End in 1845 after a local MP presented Queen Victoria with a petition of 30,000 signatures. It was envisaged as a Regentís Park of the east and originally had its own Speakerís Corner. The Victorians saw parks as instruments of moral and physical improvement, especially for the working classes. Sanitary reformer William Farr believed the use of parks would significantly boost life expectancy.  Boost your constitution and have an enjoyable day out at the same time, as you explore the many attractions of this glorious park.
 
 
Victoria Park - Information  | Hotels near Victoria Park
Autumn Colours in London

Highgate Woods

Muswell Hill Road, N10
Much of London was once entirely covered by the ancient Forest of Middlesex. The oaks and hornbeams of Highgate Woods, along with the other patches of green across the city, are the only proof it ever existed.
 
The current 70 acres of woodland have been cared for by the Corporation of London since the Lord Mayor pronounced it "an open space forever" in 1886. As the days shorten, a brisk walk in the woods is a great way to brush away the cobwebs, sometimes literally. Seventy species of birds twitter in the trees as squirrels scamper about collecting their winter feast. When night falls you can join one of the organised Bat Walks and try to catch a glimpse of various varieties of the elusive flying rodents. For leaflets and trail guides you can visit the helpful information centre. In the midst of the woods youíll find it opening out on to a cricket pitch with a large childrenís adventure playground on the perimeter. When you're weary, pop into the charming Pavilion Cafe to sample some of their home-cooked meals made from fresh local produce.
 
 
Highgate Woods - Information   | Hotels near Highgate Woods
Autumn Colours in London
 

Epping Forest

Epping Forest Visitor Centre, High Beach, Loughton, Essex, IG10
Epping Forest spreads out from the north-east of the city limits towards the M25 circular. Measuring 19km by 4km, this vast area of natural beauty is criss-crossed with bridleways and intriguing paths leading through the undergrowth. Originally one of the royal hunting forests, it is amazing that it has survived ever encroaching developments. The public have enjoyed rights over the area for centuries, using it as a source of fuel and food as well as grazing their livestock there.
 
The range of activities coordinated by the informative visitor centre is impressive; organised walks take in themes such as bats and archaeology. You can even get stuck in helping the wardens to plant trees. The woodland is also a treat for cyclists who can be seen navigating the many trails.
 
Within its boundaries stand the listed buildings Wanstead Park, Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge and the Temple, not to mention the vestiges of two Iron Age settlements.
 
 
Epping Forest - Information  | Hotels near Epping Forest 
Autumn Colours in London

Bushy Park

Hampton Court Road, Middlesex, TW12
Just north of the celebrated royal palace at Hampton Court, Bushy Parkis the second largest of the Royal Parks. Archaeologists have unearthed a Bronze Age burial mound and barrow here, the contents of which now reside in the British Museum. The Longford River looks perfectly at ease in its surroundings - flowing leisurely through the park - but it is, in truth, a 13-mile artificial waterway, built in the time of Charles I to divert water from the River Colne to Hampton Court.
 
A keen eye for detail can make out the traces of mediaeval field boundaries, but the park was used more recently as agricultural land when Britain was suffering food shortages during both World Wars. Its role in World War Two, though, was more pivotal; Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force was based within the park and it was here that Eisenhower masterminded the D-day landings.
 
History aside, these days Bushy Park is simply a wonderful place to scrunch across the deep beds of autumn leaves or huddle up to watch the sun slide spectacularly behind the horizon. The parkís most notable feature is Chestnut Avenue; the mile long thoroughfare designed by Sir Christopher Wren is flanked on either side by rows of horse chestnut trees, their branches heavy with conkers. Anglers can try their luck in the three ponds and there are facilities for a host of other sports including rugby, football and hockey.
 
 
Bushy Park - Information  | Hotels near Bushy Park

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