Enjoy a Stroll Through Hyde Park in London

I’ve enjoyed strolls through numerous parks in my day. Few have struck me the way Hyde Park in London did. This place is just an enormous spread of beauty, right smack in the middle of all the hubbub. It is an amazing 630 acres, with a perimeter of 4 miles. WOW. We didn’t see the whole thing, but enough to tell you how much we liked it.

The Westminster Abbey monks owned the land for quite awhile, but then it was ummm acquired by King Henry VIII who deemed the park a royal holding for fox hunting until Charles I decided to open it to the public in 1637. Lots of history here.

Here’s an interesting bit:
The world’s first moving pictures were filmed near Apsley Gate one morning in January 1889 by a British inventor, William Friese-Greene. The film was developed at a studio near Piccadilly and is the first known projected moving image. ~ http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/parks/hyde_park/film_locations.cfm

The walkways are all very well maintained so easy to navigate even for folks in wheelchairs. The sidewalks are that gritty kinda pavement though so you really can’t remove your shoes and walk around barefoot unless you decide to go walking through the grass. It’s a wonderful long stroll though with the most gorgeous bursts of flowers everywhere. We walked the path along the water and it was the most relaxing part of our whirlwind vacation. It was a much-needed respite from all the regular sight seeing and touristy stuff.

The wildlife here is well worth seeing even if parks don’t normally trip your particular trigger. There are numerous species of ducks all over the place waiting for you to toss out some bread, so do bring a loaf. The Canadian Geese are everywhere also, and quite friendlier than I thought they would be. I guess they’ve gotten used to all the people and really pay us hardly any attention at all now, unless of course you have food. There are also quite a few stunning swans primping and posing for pictures along the water.

What thrilled Lars the most here though were the squirrels. These are the bravest little things I’ve ever seen. They would tentatively come right up and take food out of your hand if you stood still enough and made friendly little silly noises at them. Very cool, that.

There are benches enough so that you can stop and rest pretty much any time you need to, and at one spot about midway are a bunch of lounging chairs on the grass to use at your whim for sunning or whatever. I thought that was a very nice touch.

You can rent a variety of boats at that point also. We pondered a paddleboat for a bit, but in the end begged off, as it was a little nippy that June day and I had left my jacket at the hotel. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to weather, I’m afraid. They also had rowboats for hire, and we saw one little single-person jobby with a small engine, but that may have just been for use by the boat rental company to go chase down and/or rescue errant renters.

Across the bridge over that serpentine lake is also a roped-off swimming area with places to change if you need them.

We saw lots of folks riding their horses through the park the day we went, and a few folks practicing skateboarding tricks or enjoying a day of rollerblading. It was all very entertaining.

Snacks like pastries and hot dogs, along with a variety of drinks, can be had readily enough from little kiosks along the pathway. Although prices are fairly high compared to the States on most things in London, the prices on this stuff were not jacked up exorbitantly at all. They were about what you expect at like £1 for a hot chocolate. I must say, too, that the cup of hot chocolate I bought this day was very nice… not at all the watery crap you usually get from places like this. No, it was rich and creamy and just really hit the spot.

If you are the historic sort, there are also quite a few monuments, statues, and the like to various whatevers. Wars and stuff, mainly, but I believe this is also where Queen Victoria put her monument to her husband, called the Albert Memorial.

By the Marble Arch is what they call the Speaker’s Corner and folks come here day in and day out to spout their various views on everything you could possibly think of. Religion, politics, the environment… everything.

Hyde Park, as you can see, is quite a bit more than just a bit of grass. I’m going with 4 stars for this spot, and recommending highly that when you need a leisurely break from the craziness of tourist traps, this is the spot to go for sure. Don’t forget that loaf of bread.

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