Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, London N16 9HJ
Much-loved and well-used, the 54-acre Clissold Park is one of the finest green spaces in North London. A country estate in the 18th century, it opened as a park in 1889, and has been a hub of the community since then, hosting every kind of festival you can imagine. It is also a lovely-looking park, with mature trees, splashy flower beds, ponds and waterways – not to mention the 1790s mansion at its heart, which nowadays houses a rather fancy café. You will encounter everyone – from local five-a-side football teams to tai chi practitioners, joggers, dogwalkers and picnickers – in Clissold Park. There are dog-free areas where toddlers can play safely, a skate park (used as much by Stokey dads as daredevil local teens), tennis courts and jogging paths. The New River runs through one section, and there are two ponds, complete with water birds and sleepy terrapins, along with an aviary that is all aflutter with squawking parakeets and delightful lovebirds. The goats and chickens are huge favourites of the local kids, while the deer enclosure brings a little piece of Richmond to this humble corner of Hackney. The excellent kids’ playground is a lifesaver for harassed parents, as is the paddling pool, where crowds of families hang out, play and doze under the spreading trees in summer.