Much of London was once entirely covered by the ancient Forest of Middlesex. The oak, holly, and hornbeam trees of Highgate Woods and Queen's Wood (a road is all that separates the two), alongside a few other patches of green across the city, are the only proof it ever existed. Seven species of bats, foxes, grey squirrels and over 70 species of birds still happily inhabit this 70-acre patch, which has been cared for by the Corporation of London since the Lord Mayor pronounced it "an open space forever" in 1886. A year-round attraction, bluebells carpet the floor in the spring, picnickers in the summer, russet leaves in the autumn and snowdrops in the winter. A walk around Highgate Woods is a fantastic way to escape the hubbub of the city, its cooling glades offer escape from the sun on hot days and shelter on cool afternoons. When night falls you can join one of the organised Bat Walks. These are extremely popular so pre-booking is essential. For information leaflets and trail guides visit the information centre located in the middle of the woods near the cricket pitch. A great way to end your visit is by popping into the charming Pavilion Café to sample a home-cooked meal made from fresh local produce. Its outdoor garden, surrounded by plants, flowers and tiny lights is the perfect way to see out the day. There is also a terrific playground split in two parts for under and over 5's.Best for:Oak trees, birds and bats, cricket and café. Did you know? Highgate Wood is home to a rare deciduous tree called the Wild Service Tree which is commonly seen as a sign of ancient woodland.