Christmas is a magical time for a walk in Wanstead Park.

A chance to work off any over indulgence on food and drink during the festive period.

The weather of course can be a variable. Lots of people hope for snow - a white Christmas. But that has been a pretty rare event over recent times. 

More commonplace is a clear, chill day, perfect to shake off the cobwebs.

A wet Christmas is another fairly common occurrence over recent times.

Back in 2019, there was a deluge of rain, causing the River Roding to burst its banks. The water filled up the adjacent Ornamental water and surrounding woodland.

It became something of an epic journey just trying to get round the lake. However, the waters quickly subsided, with the now virtually empty, Ornamental water, quickly draining.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan is looking forward to a festive walk in Wanstead ParkPaul Donovan is looking forward to a festive walk in Wanstead Park

Today, the Ornamental remains a shadow of its former self, overgrown and waterless. Happily, though, there are now some plans coming together to improve the situation.

One addition, this Christmas for those walking in the park are the three longhorn cattle grazing on the plain, by the Perch pond. They have been out for a while now, chewing down the grasslands, whilst encouraging a greater biodiversity.

The cows are such peaceful creatures, going about their daily activities, offering a glimpse of the past, as well as the present and future.

It is the long and distinguished history of the park that fascinates so many who visit. The former grounds of Wanstead House. The Temple, the Grotto down on the Ornamental.

That history always seems especially real on a day when the mist is just lifting over the lakes, with the crows calling in the background. A heron may lift out of the reeds, flying off overhead, like a remnant of a prehistoric age.

The multiple colours of the trees, many still clothed in leaf, are another fascinating sight to behold at this time of year.

The park is a great place to go at any time of the year, with always something different going on. But at Christmas, there is always that extra bit of magic. So, if you have the chance get out there over Christmas and the New Year.

Treat yourself to a warming tea and cake at the kiosk, whilst watching the world go by. It'll be time well spent, for mind and body alike. Happy Christmas.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (