Four Seasons in Morden Hall Park

There’s been a bit of a blogging hiatus – every time this happens, I feel I have to justify it beyond simply ‘life got busy’, but this time there was an amusing excuse, involving a mobile phone dropped by a 3 year old whilst taking a photo on the meridian line at Greenwich. 

At least I can irritate her for years to come by reminding her ‘and then you dropped mummy’s phone on the meridian…’.

Luckily the phone was repaired within a couple of weeks, but various ideas for blogs I’ve been nurturing slipped by the wayside in that time, and I’ve got a bit behind schedule.

A place I’ve been wanting to write about is a favourite park of ours, Morden Hall Park. It’s a bit further afield than our local parks, but it has several exciting things that set it apart from the rest, and make it worth the trip – a really good adventure playground for climbing and scrambling, the river Wandle running right through the park with a mill-race, and a bridge so popular it has been rated one of the best Pooh-sticks bridges in the country, a rose garden, great paths for scooting, a National Trust cafe and a garden centre. Something for all the family, there…(well, provided you like gardens and cake).

What I particularly love about it, though, besides how child friendly and accessible it is, is an otherworldly quality that I don’t quite get in any of our other favourite parks.

We’ve seen it in all four seasons this year – it has been fascinating to see how it changes over the year.

It is still a very urban space – you can hear traffic humming most of the of the time, and pylons march across one edge of the site, and yet as you meander along the river, it feels utterly peaceful.

We visited in late winter, hoping to see snowdrops, and I noticed for the first time that what I thought was the far bank of the river was actually an island, with a statue in the middle – I immediately thought of ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn‘, and the mystery of it all was very pleasing. How did the statue get there? I don’t know, and it’s quite nice to not know.

Then we went back when spring was in full bloom, and I photographed this glorious display of wild flowers up against one of the old mill buildings – not there by accident, planted on purpose I’m sure, but still appealingly sprawling and wild, and a lacy white cloud of cow parsley by the river.

At the height of summer, the rose garden was tranquil (though I’m not sure how I managed to take a photo of it without any people there – it was actually full of picnickers and children paddling in the little stream), and the river in full Wind in the Willows mode. 

I left the big girl being entertained by (or with?) her dad in the adventure playground and had a little quiet walk along the river with the buggy, in total peace and silence a few paces away from where all the kids were charging around – I am convinced if I watch long enough there, I will see a kingfisher one day. It feels exactly the sort of place a kingfisher *should* be.

Then we came back in early autumn – not quite late enough for full autumnal colour, but everything was just beginning to turn, and it was lovely then, too.

Finally (in a rather back to front way), here is another of the views I love – the entrance to the park is through an unobtrusive archway in a brick wall, with roses climbing romantically over the door, a real Secret Garden feel, but no sense when you slip through this small archway of the large park lying beyond. 

I love that it reveals itself slowly, little by little, like a series of rooms opening up beyond that little door – and we haven’t finished exploring the whole place yet.

A place full of surprises and delights, and I hope we’ll be back to enjoy it for all seasons next year, too.


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