CAMLEY STREET NATURAL PARK, designated both as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and a Site of Metropolitan Importance, is a unique green space of 0.8 hectares (2 acres) in the heart of urban London, lying behind one of the city's busiest transport hubs. Just a few minutes’ walk from King’s Cross Station and St Pancras International Station, it contains several habitats on a miniature scale squeezed into former industrial land sandwiched between Regent’s Canal and the railway line complex. Situated within the London Borough of Camden, the LNR is managed by London Wildlife Trust.
Address: 12 Camley Street, London, N1C 4PW (tel 020 7833 2311; email firstname.lastname@example.org (Map:; OS grid reference TQ299834)
Until the 17th century the area was woodland. From the 18th century onwards it came under industrial use, and the Regent’s Canal was built to serve industry, opening in 1820. In the 19th century the area was used as a coal yard, first for the Regent’s Canal and then for the Midland Railway. By the 1970s the site had become derelict, but in 1984 Camden Borough Council authorised the newly formed London Wildlife Trust to manage the site. The park opened in 1985.
A current major development of former railway land across the canal will include new canal bridges, and there are concerns that the park may not be able to cope with the expected large increase in visitor numbers. A proposed canal footbridge into the park’s northern boundary was opposed by the wildlife trust but has been approved by Camden Council.
Despite its small size, the park offers a variety of wetland, meadow and woodland habitats, albeit on a miniature scale. These include a summer-flowering meadow, a pond with varying water levels (dependent on the level of the canal), marshland with reed bed, coppiced woodland, deciduous woodland, mixed woodland with scrub, mixed woodland with hedgerow, a dipping pond (with boardwalk) and rainwater ponds.
More than 300 species of higher plants have been found at the site, notably common broomrape (Orobanche minor), hairy buttercup (Ranunculus sardous) and common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii). Meadow herbs include white clover and poppy. Woodland trees include hazel, rowan, hawthorn and silver birch; hazel and willow are coppiced regularly. Woodland herbs include lesser celandine and wild violet. Marshland herbs include marsh marigold, greater pond sedge, pendulous sedge, reed, bogbean, mallow and yellow iris.
BIRDS: Resident breeding birds include Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Canada Goose. In spring and summer they are joined by Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler and Swift. Winter visitors include Chiffchaff, Siskin and Redpoll. Occasional visitors include Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay and Black Redstart. Peregrines can sometimes be seen overhead.
OTHER VERTEBRATES: According to Wikipedia, the parks attracts amphibians and at least six species of mammals, but these are not named.
INVERTEBRATES: Butterflies recorded in the park include Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Large Skippers, Brimstone, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood as well as the more common species. Among the commoner dragonflies are Emperor, Brown Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Ruddy Darter.
DIRECTIONS: The site is just a few minutes’ walk from St Pancras International Station, and so is easily reached by Eurostar from Paris Gare de Nord or Brussels-Midi/Suid. The 214 bus (which runs between Highgate and Finsbury Square and serves both St Pancras International and King’s Cross stations) passes nearby on Goods Way and Pancras Road (A5202).
ACCESS: Admission is free. The entrance to the site is through an ornate gateway on Camley Street. The site is normally open daily, except Saturdays, from 10.00am to 4.30pm (October to March) or to 5.30pm (April to September).
FACILITIES: The site has a visitor centre that caters for both casual visitors and school visits.
Fraser Simpson’s Camley Street patchlist Jan-May 2006
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker 24/01, 2 Goldfinch 24/01, 3 Long-tailed Tit 24/01, 4 Feral Pigeon 24/01, 5 Blue Tit 24/01, 6 Great Tit 24/01, 7 Chaffinch 24/01, 8 Coal Tit 24/01, 9 Robin 07/01, 10 Wren 07/01, 11 Pied Wagtail 07/01, 12 Mallard 07/01, 13 Coot 07/01, 14 Blackbird 07/01, 15 Black-headed Gull 07/01, 16 Woodpigeon 07/01, 17 Herring Gull 07/01, 18 Lesser Black-backed Gull 07/01, 19 Cormorant 07/01, 20 Common Gull 07/01, 21 Carrion Crow 07/01, 22 Dunnock 07/01, 23 Reed Warbler 04/05, 24 Grey Wagtail 04/05, 25 Canada Goose 04/05 26 Blackcap 04/05, 27 Magpie 04/05, 28 Greenfinch 04/05, 29 Moorhen 04/05.
If you are familiar with the site, please correct, expand and/or update this information (and delete or amend this paragraph).