If you ever find yourself at Clapham Junction with some time on your hands and not much to do, you might take a look around and explore all that Clapham Junction has to offer. Located in South London, Clapham Junction sits on the extreme end of the border between Clapham and Battersea. Clapham Junction is technically part of Battersea, but most people consider the area to be a unique neighborhood, separate from both Battersea and Clapham, and with a character all its own. Given that it’s so close to the city center, Clapham Junction draws in a lot of Londoners and tourists looking for a fun, energetic place to spend time with friends and family, eat good food and even take in a concert or two. Although there are lots of shops, pubs, cafés and galleries to check out, there are three things that every visitor to Clapham Junction should try to take in, even though it might take more than one visit to do it all.
1. Clapham Common
The central feature of Clapham Junction, Clapham Common is a 220 acre urban park, complete with ponds, playgrounds, parkland and multiple outdoor sporting facilities. It can be accessed from Battersea Rise and the South Circular Road and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South London. Originally designated as a park in 1878, the Common features three ponds, two of which were built during Victorian times. Today, these ponds are carefully managed and stocked with bream, roach and carp, so if you enjoy angling, this is the perfect place to while away a quiet Sunday afternoon. The Common’s most famous feature is its charming bandstand, situated right at the park’s center. The bandstand is still the site of music festivals and other community events that are held at the Common, typically over the summer months. If you’re of a more athletic bent, you’ll love this park too. Clapham Common has a pretty good selection of sporting facilities, so you’re sure to find something to do to while away the time. There are cricket, rugby and football pitches, a skateboard park, a running track and even a bowling green. There’s even a kid’s playground and several cafes, so it’s the perfect place to take the kids for a bit of playtime and a bite to eat.
2. Battersea Park
Battersea Park, situated to the north of Clapham Common, is also an urban park, but it’s just a little bit smaller than its neighbor to the south. It’s a short walk to Battersea Park from Clapham Junction, about twenty minutes or so, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you have the time. Once you get there, you can take a walk on one of the many paths that loop around the perimeter of the park, some of which lead to the nature preserve areas. These areas are not open to visitors, but the trails loop past the edges of the preserve, so if you’re lucky you could catch sight of the odd marsh bird. Battersea Park also has a bandstand of its own, but the park’s main feature is the Pump House Gallery, which is a local institution and a must-see if you’re in the area. The gallery features contemporary arts and is housed in a grade listed Victorian tower which is fascinating in itself and deserves a look. Like other parks, Battersea Park also has a wide array of sporting facilities, including the requisite cricket and football pitches and the running track, but Battersea also has tennis courts and even a boating lake. If you have kids, make sure to stop at the Children’s Zoo where you can pet and feed the animals. You should also take some time to visit the London Peace Pagoda as well. Built in 1985, the pagoda is a two-tiered Buddhist stupa, adorned with Buddhist images and statues. It is an impressive structure and is one of two such pagodas that were erected in London around the same time, with the other one being in Milton Keynes.
3. Northcote Road Market
Rightly called the heart of Clapham Junction, the Northcote Road Market is, as its name suggests, situated along Northcote Road which runs between Battersea and Clapham. It’s a historic market where produce from the surrounding farms was once brought to be sold. Today, the market is a collection of cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops, selling an eclectic mix of wares. Take a leisurely walk down Northcote Road Market and you’ll find stalls and shops selling everything from handmade organic soaps and cured meats to clothing and jewelry. If you’re feeling a bit peckish, grab a bite to eat from one of the many food stalls or storefront cafés lining the road. As interesting as the main market is, there is one key feature of the Northcote Road Market that you really should try to visit and that’s the Northcote Road Antiques Market. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, it’s still an interesting place to browse, with dealers specializing in all things retro, vintage and collectible. You might even catch a local parade coming through – the Northcote Road is often used as a site for community events.
Whether you have a day to spend or just hours, there really is a lot to do around the Clapham Junction area, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something interesting to do with your time. And given all that the area has to offer, it’s no surprise that Clapham Junction is fast becoming one of the most popular tourist spots in London.