Sometimes, you just need to escape all the concrete in our great Metropolis and head into nature for a bit of a reboot. Strolling through Hyde Park just doesn’t quite do it. Luckily for us, there are quite a few places quite close to London where you can “get back to nature” hiking trip.
Within an hour from London, there is quite a choice of day hikes. Some you can even get to via The Tube. Hiking is a great mini adventure, gets you out in the fresh air and you get to discover new villages too. Here are 5 selected day hikes that take you to some scenic spots not too far from Central London.
If you want more than these 5, this Time Out Guide is highly recommended by some seasoned hiking friends. A long list of day walks are included in the book, all of which is clearly explained so you don’t need maps. They even have a handy guide for pubs to stop at nearby.
1. Richmond Park
A short train ride from Central London, you find the vast Richmond Park. It is mainly a vast open plain, quite wild, mainly flat but some parts have undulating hills.
Besides being a nature reserve, Richmond Park is also home to the Isabella Plantation and Pembroke Lodge. In one corner is the deer park where herds of Red and Fallow deer roam. Don’t get too near the bucks during certain seasons as they can be quite aggressive. Also, beware of ticks in the grass and Lyme disease.
There are regular paved trails here which is perfect for an easy walk but there are more challenging routes too.
You can join up with the Nordic Walking group that meet here regularly.
If you like a treat at the end of your hike, you should head to the Victoria Pub at the East Sheen end of the Park. They do some terrific British food.
2. Lea Valley Waltham Abbey
There is a charted 18km walk from Waltham Abbey to Limehouse Basin in East London. It will take you most of a day but it will be a day well spent exploring historic parts of Greater London.
Starting at Waltham Abbey, you discover how the monks diverted the path of the river, you will see the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the recent Olympic regeneration.
The walk is along the towpaths built for horses to haul barges along the canal. If you don’t want to walk the full distance, the railway run along this route so you can jump on a train instead.
When you finish this walk, you can download a certificate from the TFL website.
4. Hampstead Heath
Hampstead might not be the obvious choice for a day hike but the Heath is quite wild in parts and if you take in Highgate, it can get hilly and a bit more challenging.
There is a 6km circular hiking route that starts at Parliament Hill which then meanders along the lower parts of the Heath. The route takes you past the Hampstead and Highgate ponds straight into the heart of the Heath. On the way out, the route goes through Whitestone Pond.
If you add the Highgate extension, you get to visit the famed Highgate cemetery too.
The walk starts from Hampstead Tube Station and you can get full details here.
This is the hilly area that was used as part of the Olympic Bike route. It has some very challenging inclines and could make for a good workout. One thing about this hiking route is the scenic view from the high points along the way.
There are some steep climbs and quite difficult in parts, so make sure that your group is suitably fit to take this on. There is a circular route to follow around Leith Hill and Holmbury Hill, with a choice of 11km to 15km walks. This hike takes you through some delightful ancient woodlands with lots of local wildlife. It will take you a whole day plus travelling time.
To get here, take a train to Box Hill and then it’s a short walk to the start of the walk. Alternatively, if you’re using public transport, catch a 21 bus from Dorking or Guildford to Holmbury St Mary (every 2 hours, not Sun) or walk from Dorking, Holmwood or Gomshall stations.
You can get details of those routes here which gives you all the details of the route, a couple of suggestions for pubs along the way and even a stop at a National Trust property for tea.
5. Walking through the Vineyards in Surrey
Another fun walk in Surrey is along the Mole Gap Trail.
The walk takes you through Meadows and Woodlands. Along the way, you will pass through Ranmore Common (stop to take pictures of the vista), Norbury Park and Denbies, UK’s largest vineyard. If you time it right, you can stop for a tasting too.
To get there, just catch the train to Leatherhead Station and follow the signs for Mole Gap. Watch out for the silver arrows which will take you out of town.
More details on this hiking trail can be found on the Visit Dorking website.
Hiking in my new Hi-Tec Waterproof Hiking Boots
I took these new Hi-Tec Helvellyn hiking boots out for a test drive. It was a sunny and dry day so I did not have to test the waterproofing of the boots. I walked for a quite a distance and the design with the high ankle protection provided a lot of stability whilst walking around uneven paths.
The boots have a leather upper, a cushioned insole, a padded tongue and collar that provides comfort if you have to wear the boots for a long period of time. The sole is a Vibram rubber outsole with quite a good grip on surfaces.
These European made Women’s Hiking boots are very lightweight, very comfortable and water resistant. You can use it in all seasons too in many different types of terrain. For the types of casual walks that I do, it is just the job. Every pair bought generates a donation to the National Trust.
You can get 20% off boots and clothing using this discount code: BLOG20 on the Hi-Tec website.