London Secret Gardens - Queen Elizabeth Hall Rooftop
London has some very special secret gardens tucked away from sight but easy to find if you know where to look. Grab a comfy pair of shoes load up Google maps on your phone and off you go......or if you prefer there are several websites where you can download and print off walking routes. Try the London's Parks and Gardens trust website for inspiration.
Start on the Southbank - exit the Royal Festival Hall looking over the River Thames turn right and look for a yellow concrete spiral staircase next to children's' water fountains and the Queen Elizabeth Hall - climb the stairs and enter a new world!
Created in 2011 to celebrate of the Festival of Britain's 60th anniversary, its a fabulous hidden peaceful space, with incredible views across London and the Thames, and now a much-loved part of Southbank Centre. The garden, originally a partnership with the Eden Project, was built and continues to be maintained by Grounded EcoTherapy – a group of volunteers who have experienced homelessness, addiction and mental health problems. Herbs, fruit trees, vegetables and flowers planted in raised plots or in upcycled containers including ex-concrete mixers and disused wheelbarrows.
You can stop here for coffee at the rooftop cafe or a glass of wine in the evening. At sunny lunchtimes, there's no better place to find a prettier setting for a sandwich in central London – it's all tangles of nasturtiums, pergolas dripping with lilacs, boldly sprouting cabbages and an actual garden shed. On summer evenings the gardens are packed with office workers and tourists so get here early if you want to bag a table. The gardens are bathed in evening sunshine and the bar is open!
Make sure you walk round to the side furthest from the river as this is a real sun-trap on sunny days, sheltered from any wind and there are tables, chairs and benches to sit and take in the sun and herbal aromas....lavender, thyme and rosemary. Fabulous!
Once you've enjoyed the relaxed nature of the gardens and the green haven jst a flight of stairs from the main Southbank drag why not cross over Waterlo Bridge and head east along Embankment to the Middle and Inner Temple Gardens? Click here for a full description