As any outdoor-loving Londoner knows, it can be hard to escape into the outdoors from the city, particularly when you’re reliant on public transport.
So when I found a website with loads of day hikes, all within easy reach of a London train station, I knew I had to share the joy.
Out of the LOOP is an amalgamation of hikes all located within an hour of central London, and with a mixture of themes to suit all tastes. Even better, they provide a breakdown of the transport options and required tickets, instructions and maps, and recommended lunch options for those that are too unorganised to make packed lunches the night before (me).
Eager to take one of their routes out for a test-run (or should that be walk?) we chose the Knole, Ightham Mote and Plaxtol route. With a deer park, stunning historic houses and beautiful countryside in the sunshine, what more could you want out of a hike?
The trail starts in Sevenoaks, a sweet postcard-perfect town located southeast of London. After a circle around the town’s cricket green, the trail takes you through an antiquated-looking door and into Knole Park, where deer and hikers alike roam.
Knole House itself, set in the midst of the park with its various turrets and chimneys poking at the sky, looks as though it could be a contender for Hogwarts.
The trail traverses through multiple National Trust estates, but there was one that caught my eye – a reminder of one of my guilty pleasures from years ago….
….along with others from my childhood – although, who didn’t love building forts as a kid?
Kent is known as ‘England’s Garden’ and as a result it is not uncommon to find farmland, vineyards, and even oast houses here. For history buffs, this trail is packed with several examples of these buildings:
Along with grander historic houses that hold an altogether different history:
Ightham Mote is one of the few still-existing medieval manor houses still enclosed in its own moat and gardens. After having a nosy look around the place, there’s also a cafe for lunch – perfect.
The trail continues through Fairlawne Estate, a 17th century mansion now owned by a Saudi prince.
Although judging from the attitude of these guys, you would wonder who runs the place:
The small village of Paxtol offers an idyllic spot to rest with a packed lunch, and just a little further ahead on the trail lies more historic houses and a vineyard!
Once you hit Basted Mill Pond (pronounce that however you wish…) you’re on the home stretch, but keep your eyes peeled for any surprises along the way….
Overall, this route offered a good selection of easy-to-moderate terrain and simple, accurate directions. If you like the looks of this route then you can find it here, otherwise check out more of Out of the LOOP’s routes and share your discoveries!