The Best London Walks | Getting Out Of The House
Last Updated: 16th March 2020 | Header image: Simon Wilkes
Sometimes finding a way to get out of the house is a walk in the park.
Other times it’s a walk along Regent’s Canal – past the narrow boats, between Little Venice and Camden Lock; or further afield, from Richmond, home of the deer, to Ham House, home of the… ham. Surely. Given that (little known fact) the capital is actually pretty massive. And has (actually little known fact) more green space than any other city of its size on earth.
So, if you’re looking to get out of the house for a little solitary stroll – that, according to government advice is more than 2 feet away from anyone else – you just need to know where to look.
Which, for starters, is below.
Created in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s a 60km circular path around London (1km for every year of her reign). Officially it starts by Buckingham Palace, ending in St James’s. However, considering the whole circular thing, you can really start and end anywhere. We like it because it dot-to-dots some of London’s most iconic sites, as well as all of the major venues from both the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We also like it because it’s marked out by 542 ivy green pavement plaques – both chic and reassuring.
Of course, at 60km in length, it’s definitely not one for a casual afternoon stroll, although it would make for a pretty good challenge (appropriate shoes and snacks in tow). Otherwise, it’s broken up into ten different routes, the highlights of which are Section 1 (Buckingham Palace to Little Venice); Section 2 (Little Venice To Camden Lock); and Section 8 (Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge).
Length: 60km, in full
Approximate time to walk: 9 hours for the whole thing, but smaller segments are as long as you choose to make them.
Sights along the way: So many. Too many. Check em’ all out here.
Got a map to hand? Sure do.
There are three walking trails in and around Hampstead Heath, two slightly shorter ones at around 1.5 miles each, and then the Hampstead Heath Circuit at 6 miles. The Circuit starts and ends at Parliament Hill, passing on its way the Highgate ponds, Kenwood House, Hampstead Pergola, Keats’ House (sorta) and the Hampstead ponds. To get to Keats’ House you need to veer off course around about The Pryors (just before point number nine on the map). Here you can join East Heath Road which will take you the rest of the way.
Approximate time to walk: 25 – 95 minutes
Sights along the way: Highgate ponds, Kenwood House, Hampstead Pergola, Keats’ House, Hampstead ponds.
Got a map to hand? Here you go.
Stretching over a mighty 6,000 acres, Epping Forest is the biggest expanse of open space in London. With that, there are plenty of walking routes to choose from, one of which is The Oak Trail. Starting and ending at Theydon Bois station, it’s a circular hike that takes you journeying past various ancient oak trees, Ambresbury Banks (the remains of an Iron Age hill fort), and a deer sanctuary towards the end.
At the station (however you get there) you’re going to want to turn right, following the road down until you come across a little opening between a wooden gate and small creek. Go through the opening and then head towards the M5, which you want to cross (along with a couple of other local streets, past a cricket ground) until you reach Epping Forest itself. The rest is pretty straight forward, assuming you follow the map below. If you get lost, keep your eye out for the wooden posts with green arrows, there aren’t many of them, but the odd one will help guide you on your way.
Approximate time to walk: 3-4 hours
Sights along the way: deer sanctuary
Got a map to hand? Here you go.
Sydenham Hill to Dulwich Village
Sydenham Hill station to Dulwich Village also makes for a lovely little trot – dipping in and out of Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood, Horniman Gardens, and Dulwich Park along the way. Come out to the west of the park and you’ll find yourself near Dulwich Picture Gallery (which is a beautiful building in and of itself) before heading north to the village.
Approximate time to walk: 65 minutes
Sights along the way: Dulwich Picture Gallery, Horniman Gardens, the London skyline
Got a map to hand? We don’t, but these guys have some pretty detailed instructions.
The Queen’s Walk
Next on the list of best London walks is this weave from Westminster to St. Paul’s. From Westminster itself, cross over Westminster Bridge and then mosey down the Southbank, past County Hall – once for council, now for carp (the London Aquarium’s in there); the London Eye; Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre; BFI, The National Theatre; OXO Tower; Tate Modern; Shakespeare’s Globe; and then it’s back over the Millennium Bridge, finishing at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
If you wanted to continue you could then head back on yourself, just on the other side of the river. Do this and you’ll pass the National Submarine War Memorial; Somerset House; Heaven (London’s biggest LGBTQ+ nightclub); Whitehall Gardens; and then you’re home. Well, nearly home.
Length: 3km (one way)
Approximate time to walk: 30+ minutes
Sights along the way: Westminster Bridge, County Hall, the London Aquarium, the London Eye, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, BFI, the National Theatre, OXO Tower, Shakespeare’s Globe, Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s, and a lot more.
Got a map to hand? We’re borrowing Walk London’s. Check it out here.
Angel to Hackney Wick
For something a touch more urban, follow Regent’s Canal to Victoria Park, ending in Hackney Wick. You’ll want to start at Angel, then you simply follow the curves of the canal, past De Beauvoir and Haggerston. If you fancy, you can detour via Cambridge Heath Road, following it down to Hackney City Farm, and then on to Columbia Road. Then walk back up where you’ve come, get back onto the canal, and follow it past Cambridge Heath to Victoria Park (any entrance will do).
Here, you can have a gander at the Chinese Pagoda, past the bandstand, past the skatepark, and past People’s Park Tavern, before popping out the other side (around Cadogan Close). Head along Wallis Lane, then Queens Yard, which’ll bring you to Crate Brewery, and a stroll along the canal.
Approximate time to walk: 70 minutes
Sights along the way: Columbia Road, Victoria Park, Hackney Wick graffiti
Got a map to hand? No, but it’s easy peasy with a little map on your phone.
Blackheath to Greenwich
Any walk that ends on Greenwich’s Observatory Hill deserves a mention in our books, and, as it happens, that’s exactly what this one does. If you fancy a short walk you can start at Blackheath, before taking to the heath in the direction of Greenwich Park. Here you’re going to want to head towards the statue of General James Wolfe (up on the hill near the observatory) where you’ll be greeted with the most spectacular of views – a collection of majestic, white Palladian buildings backed by the gritty cityscape. Personally we’d stop here for a picnic, but that’s neither here nor there…
Approximate time to walk: 25 minutes
Sights along the way: Cutty Sark, The Royal Observatory, The Queen’s House, the Old Royal Naval College
Got a map to hand? No map necessary. You got this.
Looking for more walks? Check out our London strolls: Walk The Thames…