Green countryside

10 OF THE BEST GREEN SPACES

From manicured parks to wild gardens, open spaces are essential for our well-being. We've found some perfect examples around the Flybe network where you can stroll, picnic or just enjoy the fresh air and nature.


Royal Botanic Garden (Edinburgh)

Royal Botanic Garden (Edinburgh)

Just one mile from city centre, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh offers 72 acres of glorious scenery and is one of the finest botanic gardens in the world.  Established almost 350 years ago, and on this site since 1823, the garden is a mix of styles; you’ll find a serene Chinese hillside, Scottish heathland, the world-famous Rock Garden and the Woodland Garden – along with fantastic city views. There are also 10 magnificent Glasshouses, each with a different climate, from steamy tropics to arid desert. The Victorian Temperate Palm House is one of the tallest traditional palm houses ever built.  All this, plus fine art on view at the Garden's contemporary art gallery, Inverleith House.

 

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Hill Close Gardens (Birmingham)

Hill Close Gardens (Birmingham)

The restored gardens at Hill Close, Warwick, offer a rare opportunity to visit 16 hedged Victorian pleasure gardens, reconstructed to capture the planting and personality of their original owners. The gardens were created in 1845 and used by townsfolk living above their business to escape the crowds. They planted apple trees and soft fruit, grew vegetables and flowers and kept pigs and poultry. They also built summerhouses of brick or wood to shelter from rain or to sit and enjoy the view. At Hill Close there are still around 60 different varieties of apple and 11 varieties of pear.

 

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New Forest National Park (Southampton)

New Forest National Park (Southampton)

The New Forest National Park covers 219 square miles of the south-east of England, with pasture land, heathland and forest all creating beautiful vistas. The area is also famous for its wild ponies, so if you’re driving or wandering through it, be prepared to come face to face with these friendly animals – there are around 3,000 of them that roam freely. Other wildlife includes all six species of deer found in the UK, as well as donkeys and cattle. There’s over 140 miles of tracks to explore, with walks to suit all abilities, and the many villages and towns dotted around the area will provide rest and sustenance when you need it.

 

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Obora Hvězda (Prague)

Obora Hvězda (Prague)

This large park, with three majestic tree-lined avenues, served as entertainment and hunting for Renaissance aristocracy. It has maintained its atmosphere, thanks in part of the summer palace with its six-pointed star (hvězda) shape – from which both the park and the palace get their names. The palace originally belonged to Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol, who built it for his wife. Inside, you’ll find beautiful plasterwork by Italian artists and an exhibition of the Battle of White Mountain which occurred nearby. Partly wooded and natural, partly landscaped and man-made, it’s a beautiful oasis in the city.

 

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Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent (Paris)

Jardin Sauvage Saint-Vincent (Paris)

Abandoned for a long time, this sloping piece of land behind the Sacré-Coeur, next to Montmartre’s vineyard, was overgrown and wild. Plans to restore it were dropped and the City of Paris decided to leave it in its fragile state to observe the ecosystem, biodiversity, pond life, trees, shrubs and wild plants. Today, it harbours hundreds of plants and animal species, from toads to horse chestnut trees. Don’t miss one of the rare open days and guided tours: they take place from April to October, the first Sunday of the month.

 

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The Alnwick Garden (Newcastle)

The Alnwick Garden (Newcastle)

Created by the Duchess of Northumberland, The Alnwick Garden houses over 65,000 individual plants across 40 acres, making it one of the biggest European plant collections in the UK, with 10 miles of paths to guide you. It also contains one of the largest wooden treehouses in the world.

It’s a garden for gardeners and a floral wonderland, but also a place where families can have fun. There’s the fragrant Rose Garden with pergola-covered paths; the Ornamental Garden which features the best of European garden design and planting; the Serpent Garden, where eight water sculptures nestle in the coils of a topiary serpent; the Poison Garden which holds dangerous plants; and the Bamboo Labyrinth. The new pavilion and visitor centre house has places to eat, shop, learn and relax, as well as regular creative performances and tours, hands-on workshops, fabulous local food and inspirational gifts from Northumberland.

 

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Mincinglake Valley Park (Exeter)

Mincinglake Valley Park (Exeter)

Created from humble beginnings – the old Exeter waste tip and farmland on Stoke Hill – the lower valley park is wooded whilst the upper part comprises meadowland rich in wild flowers, butterflies and other insects. There are green lanes, footpaths and bridleways from the park which lead further into the beautiful countryside surrounding Exeter.

 

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Birkenhead Park (Liverpool)

Birkenhead Park (Liverpool)

This was the first publicly-funded park in Britain, created by Joseph Paxton, the gardener who went on to design the Crystal Palace, and opened in April 1847. It was designed to be a green oasis in an otherwise urban landscape, an idealised countryside landscape of open meadows, naturalistic woodland belts and beautiful lakes, which are shaped to appear as curving rivers with views across to iconic features such as the Roman Boathouse and Swiss Bridge. Birkenhead Park has influenced the design of urban parks across the world, and was the inspiration for the most famous urban park in the world – Central Park, New York. Today, Birkenhead Park is a Grade I listed historic landscape and conservation area, with many Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings and structures. It also has a large adventure playground for children, two cricket clubs, tennis courts, bowling greens, football pitches and two large fishing lakes.

 

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Sheffield Park and Garden (London Gatwick)

Sheffield Park and Garden (London Gatwick)

Part of the National Trust, this 200-acre green space lies close to Haywards Heath in East Sussex. Comprising of a beautifully-landscaped garden and historic parkland, Sheffield Park dates back to the 16th century. The gardens and surrounding land were originally part of the Sheffield Park House estate, a gothic country house that’s still privately owned and not accessible by visitors – though you can glimpse its imposing façade at points. In the 18th century, famed landscaper Capability Brown laid out the blueprint for the garden, but it wasn’t fully developed until the early 20th century by then-owner Arthur Gilstrap Soames. The garden is centred around four lakes, with paths weaving and crisscrossing around them, and there’s a population of relatively-tame ducks that will amuse children. There’s all manner of exotic fauna, and the wider parkland is teeming with wildlife, from kingfishers and birds of prey to dragonflies and deer. There’s also a Bluebell Railway station nearby, for a vintage steam-train journey.

 

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Skomer Island (Cardiff)

Skomer Island (Cardiff)

One of the most unusual places to see bluebells is this small island off the coast of Pembrokeshire, which is carpeted with the flowers in April and May. Why not enjoy a picnic among the blooms as you look out to sea? You can take a delightful boat trip out to the island.

 

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