There’s been a mile or two of newspaper columns and other rantings written about ‘Overcrowded Britain’; it being the end of the world, and so on and so forth. Maybe there is a point in there somewhere, given this shot of Liverpool Street Station:
(Gratuitous reuse of a picture I originally made for the aday.org project.)
Yep, it’s crazily busy and you’d have to be insane to travel through it day after day after day after da… Of course, the picture’s full title is Liverpool Street at Rush Hour (emphasis mine), and that’s about as busy as I’ve seen the station get. I went and had a look at some stats: it turns out the UK is less densely populated than Trinidad and Tobago. Who knew?
Given the number of people above and the stats, there must be a vast tract of empty space somewhere in there with an absence of other folk. In all fairness, looking inside the Circle Line is probably not going to yield results. Or is it? This was taken in Hyde Park, London*:
It was originally titled A Modern Wordsworth. Of course if he really was Wordsworth, he’d be much more likely to be found in the Lake District – but those pictures would prove my point too easily.
Like Aristotle said, one swallow does not a summer make; so, let’s expand the search. What can we find within 2 minute’s walk of a Zone 2 Tube station? Perhaps, this:
Under the Tree
This was taken in Finsbury Park and originally posted on Flickr, but given the car and other folk in the background doesn’t really prove my point. Onwards and upwards – or at least out to Zone 3.
Alexandra Palace Park
This photograph and the previous aren’t that physically** far removed from each other, and there might even (if I had turned) be a sight line from the shooting position to the tree in the previous photograph. I should check that in my copious free time. Although people aren’t exactly on top of one another, the folk to unit land ratio is still relatively high. Let’s try a different green bit in London.
Kite Flying, Hampstead Heath
This one’s previously unpublished, but you can clearly see the distinct lack of other people nearby. It looks like a top tip to get a lot of space to yourself is to visibly carry a very long garrotte – or go where other people can’t be bothered to go (this is quite some distance from the nearest Tube Station).
For the sake of brevity, let’s ignore places like Richmond Park, and consider London tapped out. Orkney is too easy, so where else shall we go?
Less than 3 hours on public transport and the horse of the ten toes (if you take your time) will get you from the first picture to the South Downs, where you could share a Moment of Intimacy, Laughter or Kinship.
MILK on the South Downs
This was another photo originally posted on Flickr***. Now we’re getting somewhere – there’s so much space on the Downs that a herd of ponies have room.
While everyone else is piling into the South Downs, the canny of you are still reading. With a good sense of timing, a complete disregard for recommended airport arrival times, a short queue at Hertz, good luck and a following wind, in those same 3 hours you could be on a different island. It has lots of space too.
Castlewellan Forest Park: Time at the Lake
So, without a doubt, there’s lots and lots of room in the UK even in very close to the most densely populated areas. To be honest, the roomy bits aren’t even hard to find. This article hasn’t even scratched the surface of spacious spots in the UK.
If you want even more space to yourself: cheat. Use the sea, in any way you can.
* Not to be confused with Hide Park, Ankh Morpork.
** Nor are they temporally that distant, either. The latter precedes the former by about 6 weeks or so.
***So were the other pictures below this one.