Searching for different viewpoints of the Midland Railway Water Point (see below), I came across the Camley Street Natural Park. Built on the site of an old coal yard, this oasis of calm sits on the west bank of the Regent's Canal and in close proximity to the railway lines of St. Pancras and the Channel Tunnel Link. Local wildlife enthusiasts campaigned in the 1980s to save it, and it's now a central London home to, amongst many others, Daubenton's Bat, the reed bunting, holly blue butterfly and the snake's head fritillary. I suppose the beginning of January is not the best time to wander the winding paths, but at least I had the place more or less to myself. Through the bare trees I could see the frozen wastes of the canal (with the obligatory beer cans stuck at impossible angles in the ice) and on turning a corner this wonderful pink blancmange of a castle. Not a Disneyland trademark pastiche, just something simple and a little bit magical to be glimpsed through woodland and across the water where visiting schoolchildren come to pond-dip. If you have a little time to spare before your train leaves St.Pancras, this natural habitat will bring the great noisy city into a truer perspective. The reserve is managed by the London Wildlife Trust.
Button Oak, Shropshire
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