The East End’s Isle of Dogs may not be the first place you think about visiting when you want to enjoy green spaces and fresh air, but the local Mudchute community on the island has created a lovely park with a large city farm that is well worth a visit.
This really is a get-away-from-it-all green experience in the heart of urban London.
Places to Visit in the East End of London – Mudchute Park and Farm
With some fantastic views over the City, you can also learn a little more about how Londoners played a part in defending themselves on the Home Front in the Second World War while you are there.
The park grounds were created on a large wasteland area that was created from construction debris during the building of Millwall Dock in the mid-1800s. The area was more or less left alone to grow wild for over a century. In the 1970s, the Greater London Council, or GLC, decided that this would be the perfect spot for a new high-rise housing estate. Locals felt that this would waste the potential of this open space and lobbied against the housing plans.
The history of Mudchute Park and Farm
In 1977, they created the Mudchute Association to manage the area and to protect it from unwanted development. They worked on the open park areas and brought in a range of farm animals. The site is now a nature reserve and a designated Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. It covers around 32 acres and is also home to one of the largest urban farms in Europe. The association works to preserve the area’s natural environment, to promote animal welfare and environmental conservation, and to give local residents and visitors a free leisure location.
Visiting Mudchute Farm
The farm at Mudchute is home to over 100 animals and birds, including some rare British breeds. It has a Pets Corner petting area, which is always a big hit with younger children. The main animals living here are rabbits, guinea pigs, chipmunks and ferrets. The smaller animals go to bed around 4pm – if you are visiting the farm at around that time, you might be lucky enough to help them go into their sleeping areas.
There is also a variety of larger animals that graze in the farm’s enclosures and in some of the park’s fields. These include cows, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, ponies, llamas and alpacas. There is an aviary on site, housing some cockatiels, budgies, quail and pheasants. Plus, you can see plenty of ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys at the farm.
Entrance to the farm is free and there is a café and picnic area on the farm site if you are there for lunch or fancy a hot drink and a quick snack. You can, of course, also take a picnic with you into the main park if you prefer. The farm is open every day from 8am to 4pm. You can arrange a guided tour or an animal encounter session with the farm, but there will be a charge for these events and they need to be booked in advance.
The farm also runs regular courses on traditional crafts and skills. So, for example, you could sign up to learn how to keep chickens or learn how to spin wool or lay a hedge. The farm also has a working stables and its equestrian centre offers riding lessons for children over the age of 7 and adults of all ages. The site has a floodlit all-weather riding centre, show jumps and a few cross country fences.
Mudchute Park in the Second World War
Mudchute played a significant role in the Second World War and you can still see some of the equipment that was used at the time. The area was home to a few anti-aircraft guns and was tasked with protecting London from incoming German bombing raids.
Three of the gun sites are still in place, but have a slightly different use nowadays. They are home to some of the farm’s animals, including its pigs! One of the sites has been fully restored, however. You can see an exhibition there on the role that the Mudchute played in the Home Front, especially during the Blitz. The anti-aircraft gun has been restored and there are also displays, photos, uniforms and other items from the Second World War that are well worth a look.
Wildlife at Mudchute Park
Although you are close to the heart of the city in Mudchute, you get a very rural experience in the park grounds. These have been designed to showcase a variety of different habitats, so you can walk through woodlands, take in a wetlands area, wander across meadows and admire field margins. The park supports a wide variety of wild animal and plant life.