But part of the point of the challenge is a reminder that you needn’t necessarily travel far to explore. We’ve also headed down the road (in UK terms) to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes.
And last weekend, we discovered another patch of previously unexplored London even closer to home – Gunnersbury Park.
I’m lucky enough to live in a very green suburb of West London, with two parks and the open space of our local common within a 20-minute walk.
So perhaps that explains why, in the decade I’ve lived in the area, I haven’t managed the half hour stroll to Gunnersbury Park. But even our first visit has made me certain I want to go back… not least because there’s just so much of it to explore, with 75 hectares of a Grade 2 listed landscape.
A couple of lottery grants mean there’s some big plans underway as well, to restore both the park and the buildings, currently in the top 12 ‘at risk’ properties in England, according to English Heritage.
There’s plenty to be done to return it to its original splendour, but even the peeling paint and underused structures are impressive to wander around on a sunny day.
A quick bit of research showed its history is far more fascinating than I’d realised too. Its name alone is intriguing, apparently deriving from Gunylda, the niece of King Canute, who lived in the area until begin banished from the country in 1044.
The first notable mansion was built during Cromwell’s time, by the son-in-law of Inigo Jones, and the land later passed to George II’s daughter Amelia in 1760 before finding itself in the hands of the Rothschilds the following century.
Some political wranglings later, it became public land co-owned by Ealing and Hounslow councils, featuring in Ealing Studios’ classic The Lavender Hill Mob and hosting the London Mela since 2003.
Still home to the free local history museum for the two boroughs (closed last weekend in some unfortunately timing on my part) in Gunnersbury Park House, the grounds also include an Orangery, Princess Amelia’s Bath House, Gothic Ruins plus the peaceful formal Italian Garden.
More prosaically, there’s also a playground, pitch & putt golf, a small cafe with a huge queue for ice creams and a lake overlooked by an 18th century temple, where ducks ignore the endless succession of visitors throwing them bread.
Even wandering around for an hour meant we’d barely scratched the surface before a tired and hungry toddler meant it was time to head home.
But it’s the perfect reminder that you can discover some unexpected gems by looking just a tiny bit further afield.