Break free from the chaos with these 10 gorgeous country walks in London

Posted by
Charlotte Duck

Just because you live in London doesn't mean you can't get close to nature. From canal towpaths and deer parks to palace gardens and cemeteries, there are loads of hidden gems of greenery in the city right on your doorstep - it's just a case of knowing where to look. 

We've cherry-picked a few of our favourite walks, ambles and gentle jaunts, and they cater for everyone, whether you're a serious trekker or just fancy a wander.

What are you waiting for?

  • Hampstead Heath Circular Walk

    Distance: 4 miles

    This ramble begins on Hampstead High Street, where you pass the Wells and Campden Baths and Wash Houses, red brick public buildings built in 1888 to help North London's workers stay clean.

    You head back further in time as you reach Burgh House, a museum and arts centre, dating back to 1703. Then it's onto the Heath proper. Almost straight away you'll come across its famous ponds but, if you prefer not to bathe, start the slow ascent up Parliament Hill. The panorama at the top – across central London – is well worth the effort.

    On the way down, take in Kenwood House and its art collection, which includes works by Turner, Gainsborough and Rembrandt, and look out for Barbara Hepworth's Monolith-Empyrean on Kenwood's lawn.

    The home stretch includes Hampstead's peaceful woods and picturesque views at Viaduct Bridge, as well as Hampstead Grove, one of the most gentile streets in London.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

  • Hackney Marshes Walk

    Distance: 4.8 miles

    Wick Woodland marks the start of this gentle walk, which leads you via a series of tall, black poplars, to the Lea Navigation Canal.

    You follow the towpath, passing an adventure playground and a new plot of woodland known as Jubilee Wood. After crossing the red Friends Bridge, you'll find yourself in the midst of Hackney Main Marsh and its famous football pitches.

    The final leg takes you around a tree-lined path on East Marsh and pass Spitalfields Fruit and Vegetable Market.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: Rex Features

  • The Thames Path from Putney Bridge to Barnes

    Distance: 4 miles

    This stretch along the River Thames forms the majority of the route taken during the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

    When it's not inundated with excited students, this is the perfect place for a peaceful amble. Along the mainly-flat path, you'll go through Fulham Palace Gardens, with its 19th century walled garden, and briefly skirt away from the river to circumvent the perimeter of Fulham Football Club. Then it's back to the riverside where you can spy Harrods' exceedingly grand depository across the way and the boat houses of St Paul's School.

    Finish off with a pint in Barnes' most famous pub, The Sun Inn, which overlooks the village pond.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

  • Richmond to Ham House Walk

    Distance: 4.5 miles

    This walk begins with an iconic view from the top of Richmond Hill down towards the Thames, the only view in the country protected by an act of Parliament.

    Look out for deer as you head into Richmond Park and King Henry's Mound, where on a clear day you can see St Paul's Cathedral, 10 miles away.

    After leaving the park, you'll find yourself in the gorgeous village of Ham with its beautiful Georgian mansions and polo club. It's just a short jaunt from here to Ham House, a National Trust property with a second-hand bookshop and excellent cream teas.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

  • The Princess Diana Memorial Walk

    Distance: 7 miles

    As well as taking visitors through four of the city’s royal parks, this commemorative walk features buildings and locations associated with Princess Diana during her lifetime.

    It's amazing to think that there is almost continuous greenery this close to the centre of London but starting at St James's Park, it's a quick hop across the Mall to Green Park, then under the Wellington Arch to Hyde Park and onto Kensington Gardens.

    Look out for the three palaces and two mansions along the way, as well as The Albert Memorial, The Round Pond and Green Park's Broad Walk, which comes into its own in the summer.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

  • Chiswick House Gardens

    Distance: 1 mile

    This is less a walk, more a meander through 65 acres of restored 18th century gardens.

    Don't think there isn't still plenty to see; these gardens were the inspiration behind Capability Brown's work at Blenheim and are a unique combination of stunning vistas, Italian follies, secret pathways and lots of colourful flowers.

    Choose your own route but be sure to visit The Cascade, a waterfall that descends through a series of rock steps and three archways, and the Raised Terrace, which offers visitors views of Kew Gardens across the river.

    Detailed directions: 

    Photo Credit: Rex Features

  • Crystal Palace to Nunhead Cemetery Green Chain Walk

    Distance: 5.4.miles

    Those who don't like a climb will be pleased to learn that this walk starts from the high point of Crystal Palace before beginning a descent.

    After heading past the giant dinosaur sculptures of Crystal Palace Park and through the leafy avenues of Sydenham Wells Park, you'll come to the Horniman Museum and Gardens. If you're not in a hurry, it's worth stopping off at its little aquarium but otherwise continue on to the pretty gravestones of Camberwell Old Cemetery.

    It's then on through Brenchley Gardens and into the peace and quiet of New Camberwell Cemetery before the final leg takes you to the third and final cemetery on this route at Nunhead.

    Detailed directions 

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

  • The Lime Trail, Wanstead Flats

    Distance: 1.5 miles

    With its short distance and well-maintained path, it's easy to see why the Lime Trail, which meanders through Bush Wood Flats, has become a hotspot for families on warm weekends.

    The walk only takes 30 minutes to complete but highlights include the 300-year-old sweet chestnut trees that line part of the route and the chance to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which has made this wood its home.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: Rex Features

  • North Greenwich to Blackheath Walk

    Distance: 8.5 miles

    This eclectic walk starts with the Millennium Dome and Antony Gormley's Quantum Cloud artwork at North Greenwich Pier, before it follows the river pass Greenwich Yacht Club (apparently there is such a place) and continues on to the Thames Barrier.

    Next it's on through Hanging Wood, where 18th century highwaymen once lay in wait, and on to Charlton Park and Charlton House, where you can also visit the Amnesty International Peace Garden. The walk continues onto the grassy expanse of Woolwich Common, via the smaller Hornfair Park.

    The next highlight is Morden College, a 17th century alms house with extensive landscaped gardens that takes you to the corner of Blackheath and its village pond.

    Detailed directions 

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos

  • The Jubilee Greenway (Little Venice to Camden Lock stretch)

    Distance: 2.3 miles

    This pleasant jaunt, which is entirely along canal towpaths, forms the second leg of the Jubilee Greenway, a 37-mile route around the north of London.

    You follow the Grand Union Canal as it turns into the Regent’s Canal, and finish at Camden Lock, but there's more to see than just narrow boats and aqueduct bridges. You can stop off for a few overs at Lord's Cricket Ground or visit the animals in ZSL London Zoo en route.

    A large section of this walk is also along the north side of Regent's Park with its neat landscaping and pristine lawns. Camden marks the end of the ramble but leave time to wander around its market and find a bargain.

    Detailed directions

    Photo Credit: iStockPhotos


Share this article


Charlotte Duck

Charlotte Duck is a freelance editor and writer. She's written about everything from David Beckham's pants to luxury prams, and interviewed Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Lee from Blue. She's a rubbish cook but very good at tidying. 

Related Posts