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Barnsbury Wood

Barnsbury Wood is a little hidden gem in Islington and the smallest local nature reserve in London!

Barnsbury Wood is open to the public on Tuesdays 2 - 4pm. Any enquiries please contact the Ecology Centre using these contact details:

General information 

  • London’s smallest local nature reserve.
  • A delightful hidden woodland with wildlife garden.
  • Barnsbury Wood was originally a garden belonging to George Thornhill who built the surrounding houses in the 1840s. The area was eventually abandoned to nature and then became woodland.
  • Home to a range of wildlife including long-tailed tit, lesser stag beetle, common toad and the sixteen-spot ladybird.
  • Barnsbury Wood is used by Islington’s environmental education staff to run activities for school children. 

Horse Chestnut Tree

In the centre of Barnsbury wood is a large Horse Chestnut tree, which is around 80 years old. The tree is leaning, and has got progressively worse over time. It will not be safe for visitors if it is left as it is. Remedial works were undertaken by the tree service in 2021 in the hope that we would be able to counter-balance the tree. Unfortunately this has not worked, the tree is continuing to lean. This has left us with only two viable options: cutting the tree down, or allowing it to come down in a controlled manner and keep it alive. 

Cutting down trees is always a last resort, therefore on Saturday 28 January 2023 the tree will be layed down on the ground carefully with winches, keeping the main trunk attached to as much live root as possible. Once on the ground, if the works are successful, the tree will be able to continue to grow and we should see new shoots appearing in the spring. 

However as with any intervention on this scale on a living tree, it is not guaranteed that this will be successful. Work on a tree such as this can be unpredictable, and the tree specialists will continually assess the best steps for the tree and the wood as a whole.  

We will update this page with further information after the tree works have taken place.

Opening hours

  • Barnsbury Wood is open throughout the year on Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm. 
  • From July to the end of September, it is open on Saturdays from 2pm to 4pm. Saturday opening is made possible by volunteers from the local community. 

When the wood is closed to the public, it is frequently used by nurseries and schools for environmental education sessions. 

Getting there

The entrance to Barnsbury Wood is on Crescent Street, off Huntingdon Street.

Tube station: Caledonian Road

Train station: Caledonian Road & Barnsbury

Buses: 17, 91, 153, 259, 274


There are no steps or slopes at the site, however paths are not surfaced.


Dogs are not allowed in Barnsbury Wood.

Getting involved

If you would like to help open Barnsbury Wood during the summer months, please email

Our volunteer group meets every Thursday from 10am to 3.30pm to carry out work on our three nature reserves. Activities are varied and include cutting meadows, weeding the wildlife garden, coppicing trees, cutting back bramble and pond maintenance. No experience is needed and all tools are provided. 


Gillespie Park Local Nature Reserve
191 Drayton Park
N5 1PH

Telephone: 020 7527 4374


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