Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Sunset from a High Place: Top Ten

Of all the things on my How to Survive the 9-5 list, Number #2 is quite possibly my favourite: #SUNSETS

<I've always found that there's something quite organic and cathartic about watching the sunset. Just to be there, to watch as your day slowly slips away from you, a day that will never come again... Every sun set is different, and on a clear day it is always an amazing sight to behold- the setting sun; a great free spectacle- of soft colours fading and merging; to be part of that moment is to see through the natural day the same way our ancestors did.... 

...take the time to watch the sunset, from a high place, a green space, from a train window, from your office block. If you can't stay for the whole show, catch a bit of it, just give yourself over to the sky for a few moments....>

There's not really much I love more than going to a high place and watching the sunset over London. Strangely enough however, I've never been on the London Eye. I don't know why it's never really appealed to me- the prospect of waiting in a long queue with hundreds of tourists, to then board a slow moving pod with said tourists; to watch London for a set duration of time... I especially don't like that; the fact that you can't enjoy the views for as long as you want----for that's the one thing you want to be able to do, enjoy and really take in the views.

So below I've shared 10 of my favourite places to watch the sunset in London, some more alternative than others...check them out!

1) Horsenden Hill: I stumbled across across Horsenden Hill by chance a few months ago and have since often walked up after work via the Grand Union Canal. The hill offers beautiful views not only across London, but all the way to the North Downs, and the whole of West London. It's also quite a remote hidden gem, spacious and wild, the perfect place to watch the sunset, to forget----- everything.

2) Nunhead Cemetery: Nunhead Cemetery  is one of the Magnificent Seven located near Peckham Rye in South London. As well as being a very atmospheric and grand Cemetery, it is also a local nature reserve teeming with wildlife. Interestingly enough, the last burial at Nunhead was of a volunteer soldier who became a canon of Lahore Cathedral, the connection between the two is quite sublime if you think about it... Nunhead Cemetery is one of the most beautiful and eerie places in London to watch the sunset; timeless and otherworldly; it offers incredible views of London, in particular St Pauls, watch the sun go down through the gaps between trees, amidst ancient headstones and worn graves. 

3) Emirates Cable Cars: I caught an unforgettable winter sunset from a cable car last year with a friend who was in London for the day. It was magical; the sweeping birds-eye view of London; being above everything, watching the light, the hundred hues of colour changing by the minute, the winding river snake through the city, and on the other side, the tiny boats decorating the estuary, oh and not to forget, the glinting silver buildings of Canary Wharf. A truly magical view- and cheap!

4) Addington Hills: The viewpoint from Addington Hills offers striking views across Croydon to North London including the Docklands and Parliament Hill. It's easy to spend hours just scanning through the different areas of London from here; its green spaces, urban estates, landmarks...like Horsenden Hill it's spacious, green and very wild.... 

5) Tate Modern: The members room (or the balcony outside it) at the Tate Modern offers some of the best views of London and St Paul's. A truly a magical place, to watch the sunset. I love sitting outside on the terrace with a cup of tea. A lot of the time, I prefer it to looking at art, watching London from the peace and quiet of this high place. Alternatively, the view from the top floor is free and available to non-members but be warned, it can get very crowded...

6) Southbank Centre: The balcony area outside on the fifth floor is another great place to watch London. It's usually rather quiet, the perfect place to share a conversation over tea and to watch the sunset over the city. There are great views of the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. If it gets too cold you can go inside and watch the sunset from there.

7) Primrose Hill: This place is an old favourite of mine. I used to walk to Primrose Hill quite often from Camden Town, escaping the crowds, the noise and madness to instead watch the sunset from a high place. It's pretty empty in late autumn, early winter; or alternatively Parliament Hill is another magical, rural and remote place to watch the sunset on a winters day.

8) Pickford's Wharf Cafe Nero: This is one of my favourite places to people watch, and to watch the sunset- beautiful views of the river and the city lights, on a weekday evening it's strangely quiet. It's really easy to let time slip away here... pick a comfy seat, sit back and relax!

9) One New Change: The roof terrace at One New Change offers amazing views of the city, in particular St Paul' which you can see up and close, in face so close you can actually see the details, some of which are painted on. It's really nice to watch the gold light fade into a light blue on a clear day, and to watch the contours of the stone and the etchings, appear more real and striking. 

10) Norwood Grove: Another rather remote, yet very accessible South London spot, the perfect place to watch the sunset over South London, not far from the very prim and pretty Rookery in Streatham Comman.

Other spots that didn't quite make my top 10 but are still awesome include, the gardens at the Hornimans Museum, Crystal Palace Park, Saltbox Hill/ Hutchinsons Bank in the south and Greenwich Park.