What is it? Walking down a rail-side industrial backstreet, an ornate wrought iron entrance with busy events and wildlife sightings boards assures passers-by that this is no ordinary green patch. Within lie a shoebox wetland, a wildflower meadow and mixed woodlands, attracting avian, mammalian, amphibious and arthropod refugees from far and wide.
Where is it? A little two acre patch of Farthing Wood in brownfields Camden, Camley Street is a haven known to many but passed over by many more: the site, lovingly nurtured out of an old coal yard in 1984, lies practically underneath the Eurostar lines to the decaying northeast of St. Pancras International.
Why has it tickled our fancy? While it's only a short signposted walk from St. Pancras and Kings Cross and was featured on the BBC's Nature of Britain (follow link for the charming video), the park is still visited mostly by locals with muck-loving children. The rusted industrial seclusion of the old rail yards is set to change, however, with Argent's massive Kings Cross development primed to fill the area with shining glass and photoshopped joggers. The developers won't dare lay a finger on the park, but Camley Street may find itself the resident oasis for a new sort of wasteland. Enjoy the current incarnation while you can.
Nature notes: This is Nature with a capital N, full of educational opportunities and chances to get your hands dirty— say, catching and identifying pond skaters or learning how to compost with worms. Nearby, outside the gates of the park proper, hide some of the centralmost blackberry brambles in London, though you're going to have to hunt for those yourself. Particularly at home on Camley Street are coots, herons and other waterbirds who toddle over from the adjacent Regents Canal for a lazy afternoon by the park's own reed-curtained pond. Gives us half a mind to do the same.
Photo by Amanda Farah.