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Spotlight on the great outdoors

Friday, September 11, 2020

Spotlight on the great outdoors

One thing that the pandemic has taught us is to appreciate the great outdoors. During lockdown, access to gardens, parks and open countryside was a real blessing. This is reflected in the wish lists of potential buyers and tenants looking for a new home. Rightmove research from May shows that 39% of buyers and 49% of tenants say that their priorities have changed and that they are increasingly looking for a bigger garden, more space, access to parking or a garage, a home office or space to create one and access to green spaces nearby.

Whilst The Frost Partnership’s network area is prime commuter territory with easy access to London, it has the added benefit of extensive public parks, gardens and picturesque open countryside. Here are just some of the highlights.

Close to our Ashford and Feltham offices, residents enjoy access to a choice of open spaces with Hounslow Heath to the east, the award winning Bedfont Lakes Country Park with 180 acres of lakes, woodlands and rolling meadow for dog walking and outdoor leisure pursuits and one of London's first airfields, London Air Park at Hanworth, which has a large and sports-oriented public area. South of Ashford, fields alternate with woodland, across what used to be Ashford Common, a large area of common land which was favoured by King George III for military displays. Shortwood Common (between Ashford and Staines) is still grazed by cattle and contains a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

During the 1930s, gravel pits were an unwelcome sight near Staines and Wraysbury. Ironically, these have become the beautiful lakes for which Wraysbury is known, where open water swimming sailing, fishing, diving and bird- watching can be enjoyed throughout the year. Wraysbury Dive Centre, London’s inland dive site, is a 15-acre lake used by many schools and clubs for training. Reservoirs near Staines and Ashford provide open spaces for wildlife, sports and leisure activities. Staines Reservoir is a bird sanctuary, while the Queen Mary Reservoir is popular for sailing. Queen Mary Sailing Club offers sailing and windsurfing all year round on 700 acres of open water for water sports enthusiasts.

Windsor Great Park, home to the stunning Savill Gardens, Virginia Water and Valley Gardens covers 5,000 acres and is open all year round to visitors. It offers delightful walks through a variety of landscapes with the lake at Virginia Water, a deer park, Chinese pagoda, royal lodges, Roman ruins and even a North American totem pole. An iconic view of Windsor is the Long Walk linking Windsor Castle with Snow Hill where, according to legend, King Henry VIII waited for news of Anne Boleyn’s execution. Double rows of elm trees planted along the route by King Charles II created The Long Walk that we see today.

Public parks and play areas abound in the Slough area as do woodlands and natural landscapes. Named after astronomer and former Slough resident William Herschel, who discovered Uranus, Herschel Park, a 5 minute stroll from Slough High Street, is a delightful 3.5 hectare Grade II listed park, a hidden gem surrounded by the Victorian villas of the imposing Upton Park Estate. The Green Flag Award winning park has been restored with £2.7m lottery funding and local volunteer support and now provides an historic, natural setting for a range of leisure activities for local residents and visitors.

Nearby Pinewood, Shepperton and Bray Studios often use Black Park and Burnham Beeches as locations due to the outstanding natural beauty. Robin Hood, Casino Royale and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are among the films that have been shot here. Black Park is one of the largest local country parks with 10 miles of paths around the lake and 535 acres of woods and open heathland to explore.

Burnham Beeches is a 540 acre stretch of ancient woodland, ideal for outdoor pursuits and family picnics. It was saved from development in 1879 and has since been managed by the City of London Corporation. Home to more than 60 species of plants and animals that are rare or under threat, the area is protected as a National Nature Reserve, and Site of Special Scientific Interest. Filming is restricted to 20 days per year and to certain areas to preserve the woodland and its wildlife.

Lowndes Park is a stunning feature of Chesham spanning 36 acres. The lower park provides play areas, a multi-sports court, skateboard park, the historic avenue (also a cycle route), and Skottowes pond. Free open air concerts are staged here each year. The upper park has spectacular views across the town, excellent walking routes and natural habitats for local wildlife.

The whole of the Chilterns area is well-known for its picturesque scenery with rolling chalk hills, beech woodlands and quintessentially English villages such as Chalfont St Giles. A large part of the Chilterns was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1965. In April/May, as the bluebells come into bloom, this is especially true attracting visitors, cyclists, ramblers and dogwalkers. Film and television location finders are drawn to the area by its beauty, its quaint, often historic, architecture and by the studios located nearby in Beaconsfield and at Pinewood.

There are so many places to explore across the Frost network area providing an extensive range of outdoor leisure options. For more information about the benefits our local areas have to offer, please contact your local Frost office.

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