- Greenwich Park and its famous Giant Steps are under threat from Instagramers
- Visitors are trampling rare grassland to get shots in front of Royal Observatory
- That is part of the reason that the steps, cut in the 1600s, can now hardly be seen
Greenwich Park and its famous Giant Steps are under threat from the Instagram generation (file photo)
Intrepid selfie-taking visitors are trampling rare grassland, clambering over railings to get the perfect shot of themselves in front of the Royal Observatory (file photo)
It is a World Heritage Site, offering the most spectacular panoramic views of London.
But Greenwich Park and its famous Giant Steps are under threat from the Instagram generation.
Intrepid selfie-taking visitors are trampling rare grassland, clambering over railings to get the perfect shot of themselves in front of the Royal Observatory.
That is part of the reason the steps, cut into the landscape in the 1600s and once 40 feet wide, can now hardly be seen.
Around five million a year visit the park where the old city of London meets the new, with the Queen’s House, a former royal residence, and the Old Royal Naval College standing against a backdrop of skyscrapers including the Shard.
The Royal Parks, which manages the attraction, says people climbing past the viewing platform close to the statue of General James Wolfe have created ‘gulleys’ which channel water down the hill and speed up natural erosion of the steps.
The rush for selfies is also destroying rare acid grassland, which is a valuable habitat for butterflies like the meadow brown and small copper, as well as bees.
The Royal Parks charity has now been given a grant of more than £4.5million by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Community Fund to restore the Giant Steps and protect the park.
It will also help to replant Greenwich Park’s magnificent tree avenues to the original Baroque designs created by King Charles II, plant scrub for nesting birds and restore large areas of the park to meadow land.
Jane Pelly, head of landscape for the Royal Parks, said: ‘Greenwich Park offers probably the best view in London.
‘But in some cases people can have an obsession with taking the perfect picture, so they don’t look where they are standing, trample grassland and go over barriers to get the best view from the very edge.’