The description ‘oasis in the city’ is a bit hackneyed but in this case perfectly true. I can’t believe it has taken me six years to visit this local nature reserve, just 20 minutes walk from my front door. Gillespie Park is a triangular shaped reserve, 2.8 hectares in area, opened in 1983 on land that was previously railway sidings and a factory. It is tucked away between railway lines and houses, with the main entrance near the corner of Drayton Park/Gillespie Road, not far from Arsenal tube station. Just inside the main entrance is Islington Ecology Centre, which offers an educational service to schools and the public.
Although a compact site, there are a variety of habitats – ponds, meadows and woodland attracting diverse plant and animal life. A great place to ‘chill out’ watching the minibeasts in the pond (Pond Skaters and Water Boatmen) or the bees and butterflies feeding on pollen in the wild flower meadows. Unfortunately my visit was cut short by a match at the nearby Emirates Stadium – the park is closed during home games – but I will definitely be back.
More photos here.