Liz at Lancaster surrounded by green lung areas

Liz at Lancaster is spoilt for choice when it comes to wonderful parks and open spaces nearby.  Like all open spaces stay to the “beaten’ tracks”: avoid using when there is nobody around or in parts which are not used often. Homelessness increased during the devastating fall-out of Covid during 2020 and 2021 and there are many homeless people staying in the larger parks of Delta and Emmarentia and along the Braamfontein Spruit. Most are law-abiding in all other aspects apart from squatting and all the  challenges this life-circumstance brings. But there have been some instances along the “spruit” particularly in Victory Park and north of Craighall Park.  

Delta Park, Craighall Park 

Delta Park is a favourite with cyclists, birders, dog walkers, horse riders.  Delta Cafe, a wonderful family friendly restaurant  with playground  overlooks the Park on the Craighall Park side and and there is lots of kids to do in the rest of Delta Centre.  

Early mornings and over weekends it’s a favourite for bike riders, walkers and joggers
A favourite part of the river near the “Blue Bridge” where the rocks and bank allow for  a social dip with four legged friends.
The golden browns of the dry Highveld winter. River Rangers out for a ride and basket ball players having a game

Emmarentia Dam and the Botanical Gardens 

This is another gorgeous space with the Spruit running through it. It’s the home of the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens which have suffered from Lockdown neglect. Canoeists practice on the dam and there is a huge lawn for picnicers plus a separate section for dogwalkers. Mountain bikers can ride from Westdene all the way to Sandton along the spruit.

Egyptian geese at the left ensuring their goslings get down the bank into the water safely

The Wilds, Houghton 

Further afield near Houghton/Killarney (a 15 minute drive) is the Wilds.   This 16 hectare space of steep rocky hillside, opened to the public in 1938 with lawns, ponds and waterfalls with stone paths – all of which are still there.  From being a popular picnic and leisure spot, it became  a no-go area during the 1990s.  In the early 2000s, TJ Klerk a social activist who led group walks in the Wilds, lobbied the City to fence the park and provide some security. While this made a noticeable difference it was James Delaney who in 2012 drove an initiative, with a group of dedicated volunteers, to really turn the park around.  Read here to find out how. While the western side is completely safe and very well-used, it’s still not advised to walk the the eastern side (connected via a foot bridge in 1965) unless in a group. The wonderful Kennedy Tembo leads walks every Tuesday morning.  The walk is free, lasts about 2 hours and covers about 4km at a very relaxed pace.  Well worth it – HIGHLY recommended. 

Ponds, waterways and trickling waterfalls with wonderful indigenous vegetation at the Wilds

Zoo Lake, Parkview 

This is a large green lung area (nearly 50 hectares) with sports fields, tennis and basket ball courts, a  Sports Club, children’s play area, public swimming pool and a small lake where there are small rowing boats for hire.  It is a very popular and so very crowded picnic spot over week-ends. The path around the lake is popular with recreational walkers – one  “lap” is a kilometre. 

Blossoms of white egrets in autumnal trees

James and Ethel Gray Park, Melrose

Donated by a community supporters: a sign of birds tp look out for

 

Originally known as the Melrose bird Sanctuary (also a bit of a no-go area back in the ’90s) the James and Ethel Gray Park Foundation (JEGPF) and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ)  have formed a partnership that focuses on increased safety and security of park users, especially women and children.  A friend and I walk there weekly with our dogs and are always aware what a well-maintained park it is with, recently, visible security presence. There are paved pathways, a beautiful dam, birding signs and stunning views across to the city.  There is also an Acrobranch adventure course with zip lines and tree swings.   

Misty early morning light
Early morning reflected stillness – “as above, so below”

There is are some much smaller parks close-by, all of which have their own special character. 

Verity Park, Parkurst 

This small ‘4 block’ Parkhurst Park is like “a school field reserved for dog walkers”. It’s a fabulous meeting place for dogs of all shapes, sizes and personalities and very much a local park where owners are only recognized by their dogs.  A few benches are placed at each side of the park and there is a small playground for young kids. 

George Hay Park, Parkview 

Like the Hugh Wyndham Park below, this small park is supported by a very active Residents’ Association. There are always kids with their child-minders, entrepreneurial trainers running balls- skills classes, trees for sale for planting in the park, and a general air of community engagement – a real park for the people.   

Trees to climb, playground for kids, outdoor gym equipment and popular with dog walkers

Hugh Wyndham Park, Dunkeld West 

I walked in this park with my dogs for many years and loved the sense of community. We would meet on odd occasions during the year but definitely before the December festive season break, when we’d bring snacks, some vino, a picnic blanket and sit on the bank watching the setting sun while the dogs caught up with their park friends. Now there is a very nice small fenced playground and cricket nets and basket ball hoops with a very active Park User Committee, but I miss the days when there were tables with benches for card players to socialize over a quart of beer, (yes .. illegal to drink in public but as we sipped our vino were we ones to complain?), an informal soccer field where players would meet at the end of the day after school/work and over week-ends.  The days when the park was truly inclusive and a space for all. 

Playground Hugh Wyndham Park

The Braamfontein Spruit continues on through Sandton where there is another beautiful green lung area: Sandton Field and Study. All these parks within a radius of less than 9km (The Wilds) from Liz at Lancaster. Spoilt for choice. 

 

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2 thoughts on “Liz at Lancaster surrounded by green lung areas

  1. I share your enthusiasm for our city and parks, indeed so much to do and see. Thank you for all the reminders and detailed information. I am always enriched by your newsletters, please keep going. Best wishes

  2. Very informative article but sadly there is still no water at The Wilds so the waterfalls are not active and the ponds empty. There was a pump briefly, which broke down, and nothing has happened since. Very sad as running water added so much to this beautiful area.

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