Rupert Hohwieler 24/05/23
Camley Street Natural Park | A Secluded Nature Reserve Hidden within King’s Cross
Situated on the banks of Regent’s Canal in King’s Cross, right next to Coal Drops Yard, you could say Camley Street Natural Park is in a rather unnatural place…
Back in the 19th century this patch of land was a coal delivery chute for the railway stations it’s sandwiched between; King’s Cross and St Pancras. By the time the 1970s rolled around, the site had become derelict, and the London Wildlife Trust swooped in to campaign and then successfully stop it from being redeveloped into an office block or shopping hub (which is exactly what’s happened to the surrounding area since) and instead, shaped into the undisturbed green space populated with wildlife that it is today.
Walk through the tall iron gates and you’ll find yourself in a miniature urban nature reserve. Squeezed into just under one hectare (smaller than an international sports field, to give you an idea) is a dense area of biodiversity, alive with geese, mallards, kingfishers, and herons; over 300 species of plants including the hairy buttercup and the common spotted orchid; butterflies, dragonflies, beetles and frogs; and a summer-flowering meadow. Tree enthusiasts will also have a field day here, with willows, silver birches and hawthorns all to be spotted.
The park did close in 2017 for a four-year tidy-up, when a Visitor & Learning Centre was installed, as well as a café (where you can enjoy a bagel and a coffee sitting outside by the river), but it’s generally all a bit nicer, better signposted, well-maintained and easier to navigate now. Currently, a butterfly and invertebrate bank is being created at the north end of the park.
And while most of us adults are probably okay with adopting a leisurely pace and simply taking in the fresh air and surroundings – a ‘just you and your wandering thoughts’ type of thing – active and interested kids can join workshops and wildlife watching sessions organised at the centre. On the whole, traversing the footbridges and winding woodland trails, around the ponds and marshes, you feel a world away from the stress of the nearby stations and general London life.
It makes for a nice change of scenery…
NOTE: Camley Street Natural Park is open daily from 10am-5pm. It’s free to enter – you can find out more here.
Camley Street Natural Park | 12 Camley Street, London N1C 4PW
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12 Camley Street, King's Cross, N1C 4PW
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