Highgate Woods

Many of the green spaces in London are carefully managed. The most well known park, Hyde Park, is itself a great illusion of nature: a tended garden that makes every effort to conceal the control its guardians have over it. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but sometimes you want real nature, something wild and free. That’s where Highgate Woods really shine.

This ancient patch of woodland is left largely to its own devices. Efforts are made to preserve and maintain many of its older trees, but beyond that the forest is largely untouched. The beauty and appeal in that will come with just a little wandering. Discovering slices of life in action, rather than in the staged manner of the parks, is fascinating. Seeing a felled tree lie dead upon the ground, its corpse covered in lichen from having been unmoved for years is an experience in itself. Look closer though, and you’ll see insects making their home in the caverns created by its decaying wood, mushrooms sprouting in its crevices and turning an old corpse into new life. It’s beautiful and evocative, the kind of candid nature that we see all too little of in the capital.

Address : Muswell Hill Road London

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