site unseen Camley Street Natural Park, King's Cross, London

Share
Related Topics
Some parts of London never appear in visitors' guidebooks. This is fine if you like tourist-free zones, but it does mean that the "official" view of London is decidedly sanitised.

Take the area to the north of St Pancras and King's Cross railway stations. If you say that you actually enjoy walking around this neighbourhood, then most people promptly write you off as a drug addict or a prostitute. But there is as much to relish here as in more high-profile and glamorous parts of London.

Just look at the mid-Victorian tenements in Stanley and Clarence Passages off Pancras Road which played a starring role in Mike Leigh's fine London film, High Hopes. Or the gasholders of 1860 with their interlacing tracery which still stand proud and erect further to the north. Glance back at the engine shed of St Pancras and the sweep of the single-span roof still takes the breath away.

Marvel at the stunning example of industrial architecture which is the granary of 1850, designed by Lewis Cubitt, the architect also responsible for the austere frontage of King's Cross station until it was spoilt by later additions. Delight too in the pretty stretch of canal nearby with its fine views, colourful narrowboats and stables for the horses, who actually shifted the barges on their way down to the Thames.

And as you walk down the canal, just behind the lock-keeper's cottage, you will glimpse an intriguing green oasis. Find your way back onto Goods Way and then approach from the front. Here, tucked well away and nearly out of sight, is one of London's great survivors, Camley Street Natural Park.

Born just over 10 years ago on scrubby wasteland which had once contained the coal drops for the nearby goods yard, the park's two-and-a-half acres have now matured. They provide a striking reminder of what London was like, when, 1,000 years ago, the unruly Forest of Middlesex began to be tamed and turned into farms and market gardens.

The park contains a pond, a small marsh, a wild flower meadow and an immense variety of animals and plants. It is run by the splendid London Wildlife Trust, which does its best all over the capital to beat back the periodic assaults of Mammon whenever councils and property developers suddenly spy a killing.

However, the threat to its continued existence has abated but not disappeared. From time to time, plans are drawn up which invariably call for the commercial transformation of this area and the extinction of the Natural Park. If your best friend is a developer, then don't tell him about this rural retreat. Careless talk can cost open spaces.

Camley St Natural Park, off Goods Way, London NW1. Open to the public every day except Fri

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
With an eye for strategy: Stephen Fry’s General Melchett and Rowan Atkinson’s Edmund Blackadder  

What Cameron really needs is to turn this into a khaki election

Matthew Norman
An Italian policeman stands guard as migrants eat while waiting at the port of Lampedusa to board a ferry bound for Porto Empedocle in Sicily. Authorities on the Italian island of Lampedusa struggled to cope with a huge influx of newly-arrived migrants as aid organisations warned the Libya crisis means thousands more could be on their way  

Migrant boat disaster: EU must commit funds to stop many more dying

Alistair Dawber
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own