Located on the south side of the Thames, between Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge, Battersea Park has all the green spaces and attractive gardens you’d expect, but a lot extra too. For families there is much more to do here than walk the dog.
A leaflet available from the park office will guide you on a tree trail, which is a good way to get your bearings: at a gentle pace it will take between one and two hours to spot all the different species. As you explore the park, you’ll also discover sculptures by artists including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth – remnants of exhibitions that took place in the park in the fifties and sixties. Art lovers should visit the Pump House Gallery, which runs a mostly-free programme of arts events for all abilities throughout the year. Recent renovations have smartened the Gallery up considerably, though only the ground floor is fully accessible; floors one, two and three are reached by a metal staircase with secure handrail. At the boating lake, you’ll bump into herons, cormorants and grebes and children will enjoy feeding the ducks. There are more farm animals and birds, as well as more exotic species such as meerkats, Asian short claw otters and ringtail lemurs, at the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo (www.batterseaparkzoo.co.uk; the entrance is located at Chelsea Gate on Queenstown Road). Animal feeding times are available on the zoo’s website. Back in the park itself, there are two playgrounds – one conventional playground and a more exciting adventure space suitable for children aged five to sixteen years. The 1 O’Clock Club, for under-fives, runs from 1pm to 3:30pm each working day.
There are pay and display car parks at Albert Gate, Chelsea Gate and Rosery Gate. Blue Badge holders should check the signs for changes, but the general rule is that up to three hours on weekdays and weekends are free, as long as a valid badge and time clock is displayed. There is a designated disabled car park on the south side of the Millennium Arena on East Carriage Drive – at the barrier you’ll have to buzz the park police for access. The park’s paths are flat and wheelchair users should be able to explore unassisted, but at the zoo a fit helper may be required to assist with the ramp at the entrance and some small hills. Assistance dogs are welcome at the zoo. Both the playgrounds are wheelchair accessible and the adventure playground boasts a multi-sensory structure, with a slide, ramps, pipes, drums and a wobbly bridge suitable for wheelchair users and those using walking aids. Parents are asked to provide one-to-one help for disabled children in the playgrounds. The Pump House Gallery has a fully accessible toilet on the ground floor, but help may be required to cross the gravel outside and ascend the ramp to the doors.
Food & drink: La Gondola al Parco by the lake serves home-style Italian food, coffee and ice creams. You can eat outside, watching the ducks and boats.