Walks and Hikes Within an Hour of London
Written By: SportsShoes
Escape the stifling tubes and crowded commons with a visit to the wild outdoors. Whether you have a spare afternoon or whole weekend to fill, here are five popular walks in and around London where you can embrace your inner rambler, taking in the fields, rivers, woodland and meadows that make Britain so great.
1. Lee Valley, London (Afternoon)
Lee Valley has enjoyed a renovation thanks to the 2012 London Olympics and a walk around the area is the perfect way to soak up its makeover. Stretching 26 miles across three counties, London, Essex and Hertfordshire, there are plenty of routes to try that cover varying distances. See the Lee Valley website for a full breakdown of walking routes. A popular, shorter walking route loop starts and finishes at Waltham Abbey; take time to explore the Saxon and Norman abbey first, it has a beautiful nave and has the burial place of King Harold in its grounds. The route takes you via the Royal Gunpowder Mills and covers the area’s meadows and marshes – excellent places for wildlife spotting in the early morning or late summer evenings.
2. Hassocks to Lewes, South Downs, East Sussex (One Day)
Direct trains from London Bridge and Victoria take you to Hassocks in East Sussex. Trains back to London from Lewes are frequent meaning you can do this walk without a car. The walk itself takes about five and half hours, so for a fun day out allow a couple of extra hours each side for travel (and a stop for lunch!). The route is great for people new-ish to walking (it still takes nearly six hours so some level of stamina is required) but the views are very rewarding bearing in mind it’s fairly (although not completely!) flat. This walk is one stretch of the South Down’s Way and takes in historical sites including Lewes Castle, Ditchling Beacon and Clayton Mills as well as the beautiful scenery of the River Ouse, Butcher’s Wood and medieval dew ponds. Find the route map and more details on the Walking Club website here.
3. Hurst Green to Oxted, Surrey (Half a Day)
Trains from London Bridge and Victoria travel to Oxted and Hurst Green frequently, so add an hour of travelling time each side of the walk, and allow roughly three hours to complete the 4.7 mile route. The walk is fairly gentle, taking in the hills of north Kent and Surrey. The main attraction of the walk is the gorgeous woodland along Greensand Way, which is carpeted with bluebells in the spring and is a burst of orange, yellow and russet in the autumn. The route takes in landmarks including Wolf Wolds and Pastens Cottage and conveniently takes walkers close to the Carpenters Arms for a well-deserved pub lunch, as well as having the Robertson’s tearoom by Oxted station for some end-of walk refreshment. Find the route map on the Outdoors Route Builder website here.
4. Holybourne Walk, Alton, Hampshire (Half a Day)
Travel back in time (not literally) to the Regency era with a day to Alton. Trains from Waterloo travel direct to Alston station in less than 90 minutes. Famous for being the home place of Jane Austen, Alton’s scenery evokes petticoats and misunderstood marriage proposals with a backdrop of meadows, woodland and quaint parish churches. The Holybourne Walk is only 3.5 miles long, ideal for beginners, and takes roughly two hours if you stop to enjoy the sights. The route is speckled with charming kissing gates, wooden bridges and hedgerows, and some gentle undulating hills. Find the directions and other circular routes around Alton on the Hampshire Council website.
5. Henley-on-Thames to Marlow, Oxfordshire (One Day)
London Paddington to Henley by train is roughly one hour, with the return journey from Marlow taking roughly an hour and a half. Starting in Henley, this walk makes up a section of the Thames Path and starts by following the regatta course along the straight length of river to Temple Island. The waterway views from Hambleden Lock are enchanting, complete with a white weather-boarded water turbine mill. The approach to Marlow is signalled by the picturesque Bisham Church before you reach Higginson’s Park where you can finish the walk relaxing by the duck pond and enjoying a picnic and ice cream! Allow three to four hours for the 8.7 mile walk but take the whole day as stopping to look at the scenery will inevitably happen! See the full route and others in Henley on the National Trail website.