On the 10th of July 2022, our senior mortgage and protection advisor Jade Pinkerton is stepping out of her usual comfort zone and is going to be running the ASICS 10K across central London. She will be running to raise money in aid of Macmillan cancer support, a very important charity to Jade and her family.
So far, in the build up to Jade’s run we have shared some articles on 1) The best places to visit along Jade’s running route in central London and 2) The best cafés and coffee shops for runners to stop and re-fuel in Putney. In this article, we will be going through 10 of the best and most scenic places to run in south west London.
As mortgage brokers in London, we are aware of the importance of having some green space in the city and the value that a good park has on…. well…. the value of a property. If you are looking to purchase somewhere in south west London and one of these green spaces has inspired you, please feel free to give us a call to discuss your mortgage options. With that, lets kick off our list!
Wandsworth Park, Putney Bridge Rd, London SW15 2PA
Wandsworth Park is a 20-acre green space in Putney, bordering the south bank of the Thames and is literally right outside our office. According to its Wikipedia page, the park is grade II listed and until 1897 was allotments. In 1898 it was purchased for £33,000 by London County Council, Wandsworth District Board, and by public subscription. The park opened to the public in 1903 and has been a popular place for residents to exercise, relax, and play ever since.
The footpath of the park is laid out in one big loop with a large field in the centre. If you are running you can enter the park anywhere along Putney bridge road and follow the loop down clockwise or anticlockwise past some tennis courts, past put in the park miniature golf and down the bank of the Thames. Although not a huge park, Wandsworth Park is a great place to put on your running shoes and have a scenic little sprint down the Thames.
For the art fans out there, or more specifically the sculpture fans out there, the park accommodates several bronze sculptures created by artist Alan Thornhill for the Putney Sculpture trail. As well as being managed by the local council, the Friends of Wandsworth Park are a community organisation set up in 2018 to improve and sustain the park and manage the formal garden areas.
Bishops Park, Bishop’s Ave, London SW6 6EA
Just over the river in Fulham, you will find another gem within walking distance of our office, Bishops Park. Part of the historic Fulham Palace complex, Bishops Park is also a grade II listed green space steeped in history. Originally part of the grounds of Fulham Palace, a medieval palace formally the official residence of the bishop of London, the park was opened by the London County Council in 1893. The land was given to the council by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Fulham Palace.
The park itself runs north of the River Thames from All Saints church along a broad tree-lined avenue and an embankment path along the river. As well as being a great park to run in and slightly larger than Wandsworth Park, it contains tennis courts and bowling greens, with another small park area fronting Fulham Palace Road.
This park also has a sculpture trail to keep you entertained on your run. Mostly dating from the 1940’s, the sculptures include pieces titled Adoration, Protection, Grief, and Leda, presented in 1953 by artist James Wedgwood.
For horror film fans, scenes from the terrifying 1976 film The Omen were shot on location in the park and the adjoining All Saints Church!
Wandsworth Common, Trinity Rd, London SW18 3RT
Wandsworth Common is a 171-acre public park in Wandsworth. Basically just a large green space, Wandsworth Common is a great place to run round using their ‘fitness trail’, play football, or just sit with a good book and a blanket in the sun.
As well as the wide open green spaces, there are a number of ponds and a lake, which can be used for fishing (with a permit). A railway line running between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Common railway stations divides the common into two strips, west and east. A footbridge crosses the railway approximately halfway along the length of the open part of the common. To the east of the railway line there is a large area which is mainly used for competitive sports like football, touch rugby and rounders.
Facilities include an educational centre in an area dedicated to wildlife known locally as ‘The Scope’ named after the Craig telescope, which was once the largest refracting telescope in the world). There are also tennis courts, a bowling green and a café in the grounds.
For history buffs, there are a few blue plaques on houses around the park for famous historical figures who have lived in the area. One notable plaque is for David Lloyd George, British Prime minister from 1916 until 1922. Wandsworth common is also home to the Wandsworth Common Windmill, a grade II listed decommissioned smock mill originally built in 1837. Although now missing its traditional sails, the large wooden tower of the mill is an impressive piece of early 19th century industry and definitely worth a view.
Wimbledon Park, Home Park Rd, London SW19 8AU
Wimbledon park (not to be confused with Wimbledon common) is another relatively small park at 67-acres. 3 minute walk from the Wimbledon park tube station, this park is a beautiful gem for any running enthusiasts looking for a nice quiet green space. According to Wikipedia, the park originally comprised part of the grounds of Wimbledon manor house, the seat of the manor of Wimbledon, situated on the hill to the south, near St Mary’s Church. A series of owners enlarged the park and by the 19th century it was at its largest extent, and one of the homes of the Earls Spencer (The family of Princess Diana Spencer). The park had been landscaped in the 18th century by acclaimed landscape gardener Capability Brown when a large lake was formed by constructing a dam across a brook.
The modern park was purchased by the Borough of Wimbledon just before the First World War and is, with its ornamental lake, the grounds of the Wimbledon Club and Wimbledon Golf Course, the only remnant of the former, larger park and manor. Late in the 20th century the London Borough of Merton sold the Golf Course to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, leaving just the public park and the lake in its ownership. Wimbledon Park is home to a wide range of leisure facilities including tennis courts, a bowls pavilion, beach volleyball court and an outdoor and Watersports centre which offer a huge range of activities such as Sailing, Kayaking and Canoeing on the large lake which is park of the park. The park also contains an athletics stadium with 400m track.
Clapham Common, Windmill Dr, London SW4 9DE
By far the largest area we have covered in this article, Clapham common is a 200-acre urban park in Clapham, south west London. Easily accessible by Clapham Common, Clapham South, and Clapham North tube stations, this place is one of the most popular spots for walkers and runners in south west.
According to Wikipedia, it was originally common land for the parishes of Battersea and Clapham. Many famous people of the time built houses in and around the common because of the scenic views. Samuel Pepys, the diarist, died at a friend’s house on the common in 1703. The land was originally used for cricket but soon became an upmarket area for wealthy businessmen and statesmen to build properties. Founding father of the United States Benjamin Franklin was also known to visit the common and conduct experiments in the large ponds. J. M. W. Turner painted “View on Clapham Common” between 1800 and 1805.
The common was converted to parkland under the terms of the Metropolitan Commons Act in 1878. As London expanded in the 19th century, Clapham was absorbed into the capital, with most of the remaining palatial or agricultural estates replaced with terraced housing by the early 1900s. During World War II, storage bunkers were built on the Battersea Rise side of the common; two mounds remain.
Hurlingham Park, 17 Broomhouse Lane, London SW6 3DP
Hurlingham Park is a park and multi-use sports ground in Fulham, just over Putney Bridge. A relatively small but by no means insignificant field, the park is a very popular place for sports enthusiasts because of its well equipped and mapped out activity areas. It is currently used mostly for rugby matches, football matches, and athletics events. In the present day it is home to the Hammersmith and Fulham Rugby Football Club.
According to Wikipedia, the area became a public park in 1954 and the first running track meeting was also hosted on the same day. The park was originally a polo ground and was purchased by the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham after the Second World War. A grandstand for watching the sporting events was built in 1936 and remained in the park until 2002 when, in a dilapidated state, it was torn down and replaced with a much smaller pavilion.
For fans of classic British comedy, The Monty Python sketch “The Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition” was filmed in the park in 1969.
Battersea Park, Battersea, SW11 4NJ
This 200-acre park is one of the most iconic parks in south London. Battersea park, located in Battersea and facing Chelsea, is almost too beautiful to comprehend, especially when going for a jog around the ornamental gardens during the summer. The park is grade II listed and was opened to the public in 1858. It occupies marshland reclaimed from the Thames and land formerly used for market gardens. Originally referred to as Battersea Fields, it was also a popular place for duelling (essentially gunfights to settle disputes). Over the years, the park has been extensively developed and beautiful gardens and lakes have been added bringing in plants and flowers from all around the world. At one point there was also a permanent funfair which was in the park from 1951 until 1972.
The park today is home to a small children’s zoo, a boating lake, a bandstand, and all-weather outdoor sporting facilities including tennis courts, a running track and football pitches. Four West London hockey teams use the all-weather Astroturf pitches, including the Wanderers Hockey Club. On the western side there are two cricket pitches, home to the King’s Road Cricket & Social Club.
Again, for film fans, The 1996 film 101 Dalmatians was also filmed at Battersea Park as a stand in for St James Park.
Richmond Park, Richmond, TW10 5HS
Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London at 2,360-acres. It is also world renowned for being a major conservationist site due to its incredible wildlife, not normally seen in most London parks! The park was created in the 1600’s by King Charles I as a deer park for him and his friends, family, and guests to hunt deer for sport. Long gone are the days of Kings and Queens riding on horseback with muskets hunting however, the deer population still remains and people flock from all over to get a glimpse of the beautiful creatures. There are also wild parakeets, woodpeckers, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, stag beetles, and other incredible creatures.
As well as being a great place to see some nature, the huge scale of the park means there are plenty of places to do some activity and get fit and healthy. For runners, the Tamsin Trail is a 7.2 miles trail around the park. Members of Barnes Runners complete at least one circumnavigation of it on the first and third Sunday of every month. The Richmond Park Parkrun, a five-kilometre organised run, takes place every Saturday. Bikes are available to hire at the park and there is also an 18 hole golf course.
As you might expect, there have been a lot of films and TV shows filmed in the park over the years, some of which are listed below:
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
- Into the Woods
- Billy Elliot
- Anne of the Thousand Days
- Heat and Dust
Barnes Common, Barnes, Vine Road, SW13 0NE
Barnes Common is located to the south east of Barnes in south London. At 122-acres, it is one of the larger pieces of common land in London making for a wide and scenic area for runners, dog walkers, and other sports players to get a spot of exercise. Like Richmond Park, it is also a local nature reserve and protected conservation area which includes a nature trail. It is owned by the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral, and is managed by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, advised and assisted by the Friends of Barnes Common.
Access to the common is easily achieved from Barnes railway station which is literally a minute walk away and is also served by four different public bus routes so there really is no excuse for not visiting to do your training. For 70’s glam rock fans, lead singer of the band T-Rex Marc Bolan tragically died in a car crash on the common in 1977 and you can find a shrine dedicated to him near the common on a road called Queen’s ride.
Bushy Park, Richmond Upon Thames
Slightly further out than the rest of the parks on this list, Bushy Park is too good not to include. Located south west of Richmond Park near Kingston Upon Thames, Bushy park is the second largest royal park in London at 1,100-acres. It is immediately north of Hampton Court Palace and was historically part of the grounds of the palace. According to Wikipedia, Bushy Park has been settled on for at least the past 4,000 years: the earliest archaeological records that have been found on the site date back to the Bronze Age. There is also evidence that the area was used in the medieval period for agricultural purposes.
When Henry VIII took over Hampton Court Palace from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1529, he named three parks that make up modern-day Bushy Park and a small area beside: Hare Warren, Middle Park and Bushy Park. A keen hunter, he established them as deer-hunting grounds, just like Richmond Park by Charles I. This tradition continued until the palace stopped being used as a primary royal residence and deer hunting fell out of popularity, although the deer still remain in some parts. Despite still being owned by the British royal family, most of the park is open to the public for anyone to visit when they like.
Bushy Park is now home to Teddington Rugby Club, Teddington Hockey Club (the rules of the modern game of field hockey were largely devised at Bushy Park),and four cricket clubs, including Teddington Town Cricket Club, Hampton Wick Royal Cricket Club, Teddington Cricket Club, and Hampton Hill Cricket Club. It also has fishing and model boating ponds, horse rides, formal plantations of trees and other plants, and wildlife conservation areas.
The original Parkrun began in Bushy Park in October 2004, initially as the ‘Bushy Park Time Trial’, then Bushy Parkrun. It is a free, timed, 5K run that takes place every Saturday morning at 9 am, attracting up to 1,500 runners each week. Events also take place annually on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
And that’s our list! As Jade prepares for her 10K run in July, she will be visiting many of these parks and commons and trying out their scenic running routes. If you would like to donate to Jade’s cause, you can through her JustGiving page. And, if you are looking to move or purchase a property near one of these beautiful spaces, we are always here to help you with any potential mortgage questions you have. You can contact us.