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Places

The green lungs of London

The trio of Royal Parks – St James’s, Green Park and Hyde Park – remain vital to the wellbeing of the London’s residents and visitors, but there are plenty of other, lesser known “lungs” to discover in all the boroughs of the city. Here are a few worth checking out, from cemeteries to sports arenas.

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Highgate Cemetery

A walk through this enchanting wooded acreage in quaint Highgate Village takes you past the graves of Karl Marx, George Eliot, Malcolm McLaren and hundreds of white stone markers for killed servicemen. More museum than park, it charges £4 to walk the serpentine paths, and marks out a star-studded route to follow. Afterwards, discuss over pints at the Flask – both spots are believed to be haunted.

Highgate Cemetery

Swain’s Lane, London

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Chelsea Physic Garden

Founded 350 years ago as a medicinal garden, this Chelsea institution occupies some of the city’s most valuable Thames-front land. The glass houses are as warm and pretty as Kew’s, the beds designed with English precision, the rockeries wild and vibrant. Spend some time in this park before wandering down Cheyne Walk for a peek at Henry VIII’s old manor house.

Chelsea Physic Garden

66 Royal Hospital Road Chelsea, London

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Queen Elizabeth Park

The greatest repurposing of an Olympic Park in recent memory, this swathe of post-industrial East London has wildflower fields, wetlands populated by herons, multiple playgrounds and a swimming/diving center designed by Zaha Hadid. Facing it, across the River Lea, is Hackney Wick, the district of graffiti-splashed warehouses where hipsterism was born.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Westfield Avenue, London

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Greenwich Park

Board one of the Thames Clipper boats to Greenwich Pier, cut through the Naval College and climb a path flanked by old oaks to the place where (mean) time began. The glorious domed Royal Observatory sits on a hilltop overlooking deer pastures and Roman ruins right on the Prime Meridian. Duck into the small museum or simply sit on a bench and look out over the skyline.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park, London

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Tooting Bec Lido

You’ll never see another tourist at this South London swimming pool. You’ll also never see a larger freshwater pool in England. Charmingly retro and surrounded by a massive green park, the lido gets busy on sunny summer days but rarely seems crowded.

Tooting Bec Lido

Tooting Bec Road, Tooting, London

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