Wilderness in the city: Camley Street Natural Park, Kings Cross, London

Wilderness in the city: Camley Street Natural Park, Kings Cross, London

Did you know there is a two-acre wilderness next to the Eurostar terminal, at Kings Cross and St Pancras, London?

We didn’t either, but about this time last year, we stumbled across Camley Street Natural Park, a reserve on the banks of Regents Canal.

If you’ve ever visited this part of London, you’ll know it has the unmistakeable hallmarks of a capital city centre. Taxi cabs whizz past every two seconds; busy commuters and travellers strut briskly from train to tube, from tube to bus. Everywhere is hustle and bustle.

Granary Square

Granary Square

But behind the two major train terminals it’s a different story. Around the corner from Kings Place and across the canal from Granary Square (and the House of Illustration), Camley Street Natural Park is home to rare fungus, reed warblers, kingfishers, geese, mallards and reed bunting; and a variety of bats.

Camley Road Natural Park

Camley Street is surrounded by tall buildings, and city-central sounds and smells. There’s no mistaking the fact that you’re in an urban natural park.

Camley Road natural park

But once you step through its gates, the dense thickets soak up the noise from outside. It’s a surprisingly calm place, given its location. The site was created in 1984, from an old coal yard.

Camley Street Natural Park

Camley Street’s two acres are made up of pond, woodland and meadow, to attract a variety of different species, including waterfowl, fish, insects and crustaceans like shrimp.

Camley Road Natural Park

Camley Road

There’s even a set of bee hives nestled away in a quiet corner.

Camley Street

Camley Street runs sessions for schoolchildren, where they can learn all about wildlife in this accessible central setting.

Camley Street Natural Park

Camley Street’s mini-orchard

If you go to the edge of the park, you can step onto Viewpoint, a floating platform designed by Finnish architects and inspired by the rocky islands off the Nordic coastline. It’s a great place to sit and look out onto the canal (parents might want to keep hold of small children, though, to avoid a tumble into the water….)

Camley Road Natural Park

Camley Road Natural Park

Over the next three years, the London Wildlife Trust will be replacing the existing buildings, and increasing access for disabled visitors. Their website says that the best time to visit is from April-October, but we went in February. Even in winter, it was still a good place to take a pause from hectic urban life.

If you want to pin this post for another day, you can do it here:

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Camley Street is free to visit and open all week, from 10am-4pm in winter, and  10am-5pm in summer. There are picnic facilities and a visitor centre. No car parking is available, but the nearest stations are Kings Cross and St Pancras (about a 5-6 minute walk away).

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34 Comments

  1. February 2, 2016 / 12:28 pm

    Oh my God! I spent several years studying in Regents park and being round and about Baker street/Euston area and never even knew about it! Such a great find 🙂 #citytripping

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:24 am

      Yes, it’s very cunningly hidden!

  2. February 2, 2016 / 2:09 pm

    I only found out about this place last year too – definitely one of the more hidden hidden gems in London, I think. I still haven’t been myself but love your photos. It looks such a lovely place to escape to. Thanks for linking up to #citytripping

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:25 am

      Yes, on a sunny Feb day like the one we went on, it was perfect.

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:26 am

      It was indeed!

  3. February 3, 2016 / 7:55 am

    I hope you enjoy many more visits to Camley Street Natural Park. It’s hard to believe that this is in the middle of London x

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:38 am

      Yes, we really felt as though we’d been transported somewhere else.

  4. February 3, 2016 / 9:01 am

    I’ve never heard of Camley Park – it really IS hidden away! I’m impressed there is so much wildlife there. I must explore next time I am that way with my daughter – I do love the regeneration work which has been going on along Regents canal…turning into an attractive place to go. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:38 am

      It’s such a different area now, to when I first moved to London 17 years ago.

  5. February 3, 2016 / 10:03 am

    I never knew about this place! Looks great! Have shared on a local mums page too as it’s such a find!

    • February 3, 2016 / 11:39 am

      Thank you for sharing! I hope lots more people find out about it that way – it deserves to be better known.

  6. February 3, 2016 / 10:42 am

    Wow, I can’t believe you found this little bit of peace and quiet in such a busy city. It looks as if you are far away from the city. I love it

  7. February 3, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    Wow, I lived in London for 10 years and I regularly visit now, getting the train in to Kings Cross and I had no idea that there was a two-acre wilderness at Kings Cross! Great find, well done!

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      It certainly was a big surprise to us!

  8. February 3, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    Wow, I didnt know this was there. I am often at Kings Cross and love Granery Square

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      I do too – it’s a tranquil place.

  9. February 3, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    I love little oasis like this in London or other big cities – they’re such a treat. That whole area is brilliant these days – it’s changed so much!

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:45 pm

      Hasn’t it just! I didn’t go there for a few years and had a big shock when I did. Such a difference.

  10. February 3, 2016 / 5:01 pm

    I’m gobsmacked! I used to have a flat about 5 mins walk from St P & King’s X and I had NO IDEA that this wilderness existed! I love hearing about truly hidden gems like this. Thanks.

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:45 pm

      It’s a pleasure!

  11. February 3, 2016 / 9:00 pm

    I have to admit that although we are regular London visitors I had no idea this piece of wilderness is there. What a fabulous idea to get back to nature in the big city

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:46 pm

      It’s such a nice treat to find somewhere like this in the middle of the city.

  12. February 3, 2016 / 9:53 pm

    Wow I did not even know this place was there as I have passed through Kingscross so many times. Will make sure I visit on my next visit.

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:47 pm

      Let me know what you think!

  13. February 4, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    What an amazing find in the middle of the city – you would never know from the photos x x

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      Yes, it’s funny – you feel as though you’re stepping into another world.

  14. February 4, 2016 / 5:24 pm

    Wow! It’s wonderful what little treasures you can find. Your pictures make it look like it’s in the middle of the countryside. Great to think that Londoners don’t need to go that far to see wildlife…

    • February 4, 2016 / 7:50 pm

      Yes, we’re really spoiled for green space here, I think. I grew up in the countryside but I’ve definitely seen more nature since moving to London!

  15. February 6, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    It looks lovely there, I hardly ever go to London (really it’s been too long) but next time I will try to remember and visit here

  16. February 8, 2016 / 12:43 am

    Looks like a little slice of serenity in the middle of the city..love finding parks like these in the most unsuspecting parts of cities:). #citytripping

  17. February 8, 2016 / 9:53 pm

    I never knew this. I was aware of wasteland but had no idea its in good use. I look forward to hearing about the new changes for the future, making it accessible to all will be fantastic.
    I love that London is packed with little places of joy, you just need to look really hard you may stumble across them. Lovely post thank you x

  18. February 12, 2016 / 6:46 pm

    Looks like the perfect escape from the busyness of London. Love the dragonfly wall art, dragonflies have a special place in my heart since we lost Georgie.xx

    • February 12, 2016 / 6:53 pm

      You should definitely try and get there if you can Oana. It was a good place for quiet reflection.

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