Camley Street Natural Park is an unexpected haven for wildlife near King’s Cross/St Pancras Station
Apart from the growing number of urban foxes and the flocks of pigeons that gather wherever there might be food, one would not generally expect to find a natural park close to the busy area of King’s Cross Station. Camley Street Natural Park offers just such a refuge for wildlife.
It is small, being just about 2 acres in area, but hosts a surprising number of species that have been attracted by the different habitats to be found in the park, such as wetlands, wooded areas and meadowland.
As with any small park, even in such a busy area, there is a sense of being able to “get away from it all”. This is perhaps enhanced by the fact that the Regent’s Canal is on one side, which both increases the habitat for waterfowl and increases the distance from traffic. Another feature which adds to the sense of tranquility is the large number of mature trees that are found, including rowan trees, with their bright red berries in the autumn, hawthorn with the abundant white blossom in the spring and sliver birch, with its glossy silvery bark. The trees in turn attract other wildlife, including birds and squirrels.
Another fascination, especially for children, is the opportunity to discover the myriad of insect and plant life to be found in the ponds. The London Wildlife Trust, which manages the park, organises “pond-dipping” sessions of the kind that we may have enjoyed as children. Many of us will have observed with pleasure the gradual development from a tadpole to a frog, watching with excitement as its tail starts to become shorter, then the legs develop, until it changes to an amphibious creature, rather than on which is purely water-bound.
The Trust also operates a Visitor Centre, which provides both a wide range of information and more organised activities such as nature watching with a knowledgeable guide.
The park opened in 1985, a year after Camden Borough Council asked the Trust to manage the site. Entry is free to this little gem. The only potential problem is whether such a small area can continue to sustain the wealth of wildlife it protects, without being damaged by the volume of visitor traffic. Maintaining a balance between encouraging access to nature for children who might otherwise have no first-hand experience of this, and ensuring that this amenity does not suffer from over use, can sometimes be difficult.
If you're looking for some peace and calm then a walk in nature is a definite treat. Many people also find that Spiritual Counselling helps to put their mind at rest and the Alternative Ceremony site provides details of a range of ministers offering this service.
Whether it's a walk in a beautiful park, counselling or meditation, it's important to remember to take time to care for yourself.