Barnsbury Wood: London’s smallest nature reserve and Islington’s hidden gem

Whether you are new to London, live in London or are visiting London, the city has a glorious box of delights to discover when it comes to greenery and open spaces. Granted, you do have to travel further out, towards the suburbs, to enjoy a wider expanse of nature, but Zone 1 too has its highlights, albeit small ones.

North London’s Islington, an area within central London, is in fact home to the city’s smallest nature reserve, Barnsbury Wood. A small area of woodland, housed in between Georgian houses, Barnsbury Wood is a hidden gem that locals and conservationists have proudly maintained.

The limited opening hours of this hidden woodland is testament to how special and unique this green space is. Barnsbury Wood is open just once a week – on Tuesdays between 2pm and 4pm- thoughout the year, and from July to September, it is also open on Saturdays from 2pm to 4pm. Islington Council, who manage and run the wood, have limited the opening hours largely due to the woodland’s small size and vulnerable nature.

An unsuspecting gate on Crescent Street leads to a small pathway to what appears to be a small wildlife garden with wildflowers. Walk further in and visitors are greeted by a wonderful woodland of sycamore, ash, lime and horse chestnut trees. The tall trees mask the fact that as you walk the circuit that is Barnsbury Wood, you are surrounded by people’s houses.

Originally the garden of George Thornhill, who built the surrounding houses in the 1840s, the hidden woodland was eventually abandoned to nature and is now home to a wealth of wildlife including the long tailed tit, lesser stag beetle, common toad and the sixteen spot ladybird.

Navigating the windy lanes through this small but rich green space, Barnsbury Wood provides a tranquil spot to enjoy nature. A few benches and stumps of wood, arranged in a circle, serve as a pit stop for those wanting to make the most of the two-hour opening slot and take some meditative time.

Barnsbury Wood is a great place for locals with young families to bring their kids to roam around in a tiny yet fruitful natural environment. A perfect place for kids to learn about nature and its importance, Barnsbury Wood is frequently used by nurseries and schools for environmental education sessions when the wood is closed to the public.

For those further afield making the trip especially, Barnsbury Wood is worth the journey to experience some inner and outer calm, to witness the power of trees at play in providing sanctuary just minutes from the busy Caledonian Road area, and to see how wonderful things come in small sizes.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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