We’ve had over a year of being locked-up inside; a lot of repetitive days; a lot of the same old walls and familiar surroundings. While routine and repetition is undoubtedly an essential tool for productivity, a lack of external inputs and experiences can easily cause one to stagnate creatively. With that in mind, we have been on the prowl around London to find new surroundings and gain new experiences. Having been cooped up for months we focused on finding outdoor spaces (with one spectacular exception) to make the most of our new-found freedom.
Below you’ll find our list of 10 outdoor spaces for you to discover around London. Some you may know and may want to revisit once more, but we’re certain there’ll be a few undiscovered gems on there for you to find.
#1 - Museum of the Moon
Museum of the Moon is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram that will feature at Kensington & Chelsea Festival. Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface!
#2 - South Ken Green Trail
Loads of free-to-visit installations will be in place for you to enjoy until October alongside a new walking trail connecting them with other planting and green spaces across the district. Along the way you’ll discover the likes of: An algae factory, a nest-like timber mound and giant slices of a decommissioned wind turbine blade that forms a series of new ‘green interventions’.
#3 - Sonic Bloom
‘Sonic Bloom’ is a mess of distorted trumpet shapes that twist together to create a wonky and wonderful contortion of colour right in the heart of Brown Hart Gardens. It is the brainchild of London-based sound artist and electronic musician Yuri Suzuki. What’s more, you can record your voice into the horns, which then distort it before zooming to the other side of the installation ready for a complete stranger to hear.
#4 - Sydenham Hill Wood
One of the oldest nature reserves in London, this unique mix of new and ancient woodland in Dulwich is home to more than 200 species of trees and plants as well as rare fungi, insects, birds and woodland mammals. If you’re lucky you may also stumble upon the hidden remnants of Victorian gardens along your way.
#5 - Nomadic Community Gardens
This one is the one you’ve most likely come across as it’s in the middle of Shoreditch. These gardens are not simply a picture-bait paradise for Instagram influencers, but they also serve as a community space for people to grow food, create art and play music.
#6 - Kyoto Gardens
If you’re familiar with the idea of a Japanese Zen garden then you will have some idea for what’s in-store with this idyllic little spot. Located in Holland Park, the gardens were a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate the long friendship between Japan and Great Britain. In there you’ll find tranquil tiered waterfalls, a serene pond full of beautiful koi carp, stone lanterns, Japanese maple trees and you might even spot a peacock or two wandering around, adding to the atmosphere.
#7 - St. Dunstan's
Being situated in the City this spot is definitely one for the weekend. The bombed ruins of St Dunstan were named after a particularly colourful tenth century monk who was said to have survived brushes with black magic, leprosy and the Devil himself! Surely just the thought of that will inspire something inside you, even if the surroundings don’t.
#8 - Eltham Palace
One more incredible garden is added to the list with this one. However, the interior of Eltham Palace is really where the magic happens. The Palace boasts a medieval hall dating back to 1475, while the rest of the palace is fashioned with the slightly more modern twist of maximalist Art Deco decor. This is all thanks to the somewhat eccentric Courtauld couple, Stephen and Virginia, a pair of wealthy socialites who revamped the entire palace with their vision in mind (which even included a small jungle decorated room for their pet lemur - Mahjongg).
#9 - The Rookery
You can thank the Streatham Common Co-operative for this next addition, as the community run social enterprise are the managing force behind the beautiful Rookery. Another hive for both biodiversity and community action, the Rookery is an attractive, landscaped area with an ornamental pond, rock gardens with streams, woodland, community gardens and a cafe. Being run by the Co-operative means you’re quite likely to stumble across something interesting: be it an environmental education class, farmers market or fundraising event.
#10 - Chislehurst Caves
Alright, this is not quite outdoors but once we found out about it, it had to join the list! The caves at Chislehurst in Kent, are a labyrinth of man-made tunnels, forming a maze covering over 6 Hectares and are up to 30 metres below the homes and woodlands above. The caves have been carved out over hundreds of years: dug for chalk used in lime burning and brick making for the Building of London, as well as for flints to fire the tinderboxes and flintlock guns of years ago.