Category Archives: Play

Play: Victoria Park Has Picked Up Speed

Victoria Park - London (Photo Courtesy of londonhubguide.blogspot.com)

Victoria Park – London (Photo Courtesy of londonhubguide.blogspot.com)

I’ve been a runner since I was in my late 20s.  I’ve logged 5ks, five-milers, 10-milers, and a half-marathon.  I only run now for personal satisfaction.

When I travel, I like to pack my running shoes and get out early to explore, even if I’m going to be on foot most of the day sightseeing.  Given our surprisingly sunny weather in London, I was able to strike an even balance between our daily tours of sights on concrete and cobblestone with a fast-paced and scenic sample of the lush and soul-calming Victoria Park.

The location of Victoria Park is 1.3 miles from the Bow Apartment and one of its entrances sits at the end of Grove Road, giving you options to sleep, eat, and play while in the East End.

Since I stumbled upon Victoria Park during a run (the guide book I brought didn’t give it a mention), the following are some fun facts and a link to year-round activities that will make you want to pack your tennis shoes, carefree spirit, and visit.

Fun Facts:

  • Victoria Park is London’s oldest public park.  Created in 1845, its space spans 212 acres.
  • The park is situated entirely in the borough of Tower Hamlets.
  • Victoria Park is also known as the People’s Park and locally as “Vicky Park”.
  • In a 2012 poll, Victoria Park beat 1,424 parks and green spaces, becoming the nation’s number-one park.
  • The park’s Chinese pagoda is a replica of a former pagoda that was moved from Hyde Park to Victoria Park in the 19th century, but later destroyed in World War II.
  • The park has over 4,000 trees.

What to Do and See:

  • If you are a runner,  walker, or cyclist, take advantage of the wide pavement, walkways that pass through mature trees, and flat surfaces.
  • Victoria Park has waterways, a pavilion, and hosts sporting events and concerts.  Want to keep up to date on goings-on?  Be sure to check the Tower Hamlets site for fun events during your visit.
  • Forget driving to Victoria Park.  In fact, when I visited, parking looked scarce.  Cars aren’t allowed unless you qualify for a Blue Badge permit.
  • Get there easily.  Take the Central line to Mile End and walk down Grove Road.   You’ll reach the entrance in minutes.
  • Thinking of cooking out while visiting?  Think again and take a picnic lunch or dinner.  Barbequing is not allowed in Victoria Park, so ditch the Hibachi.
  • Forget to pack a picnic and find yourself hungry while walking around and taking in the park?  Check out the Pavilion Café  or The Crown, located at the end of Grove Road near the entrance to the park.  The Crown is cozy and its seating is varied to accommodate your mood.   The pub offers a variety of traditional British dishes.  Grab a pint and enjoy.

Victoria Park is active, large, and set apart from London’s guidebook attractions.  Make sure you visit if you like outdoor activities.  Enjoy sprinting, slow walks, mature trees, pick-up games, and other outdoor activities.

Special thanks to Tower Hamlets for additional insights while staying in Bow and visiting Victoria Park.