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Camley Street Natural Park

Stand on the pavement in front of Kings Cross Station and you are surrounded by thousands of people rushing past you to catch trains at one of London’s biggest and busiest railway terminals.

Here was once an industrial area on a mighty scale where the noise of the engines and the machinery would have been overpowering. Gas works, with their giant gasometers, towered overhead. The air was thick with smoke and dust.

When heavy industry declined, the warehouses and goods yards were abandoned. An old coal yard on the side of the canal was left, empty and neglected.

Then developers arrived and transformed the whole area behind Kings Cross from an industrial site into a futuristic complex. Warehouses were converted into luxury apartments, up market shops and restaurants.

But that coal yard was saved from developers and became a nature reserve. At the approach to the entrance a living wall, with a variety of plants, contrasts with the gleaming glass and steel structures all around.

Follow the pathways around this natural site and see how, left to nature, every kind of tree and plant will spread around and struggle for space. The paths are soft underfoot and the fences are made of hazel branches woven together.

Woodland, grassland, wetland, ponds and reed beds flourish side by side, each providing a specific habitat for the creatures that live here. Frogs can be spotted in the ponds and the watery areas attract the reed warbler, moorhen, mallard, reed bunting.

It is possible to catch the sight of the flash of bright blue feathers of a kingfisher as it darts and dives into the water. Stag beetles dart across the ground – their appearance may be scary but they are harmless because those fearsome jaws are so weak they cannot bite humans.

The meadow will be a colourful sight in spring but all year round there is every shade of green here at Camley Street.

Kings Cross Station, St Pancras Station or continue along the canal path by Regents Canal.

North London map


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