Tag Archives: London walks

Five London Day Hikes for Winter

Richmond Park London day hikes

Limited daylight and wintry weather doesn’t mean your hiking plans have to go into hibernation. With a little forward planning and an early(ish) start, the following hikes can easily be completed from London in a day.

Seven Sisters a London day hike

For the Coastal Hikers – Birling Gap, the Seven Sisters and Exceat London Day Hike

Salty sea air and cold winds are the perfect remedy to sweep away the cobwebs after too much time indoors. While this route might require hikers to leave earlier in the morning (depending on where you live in London) to make the most of daylight hours, this walk is one of the prettiest stretches of the English coast in any weather. While the Seven Sisters attracts droves of visitors in the summer, it is quieter in the winter, giving you more space and quiet to appreciate its rugged beauty.

If you like to be beside the seaside for a hike, check the Beachy Head website, or check out my own route review for this route.

Deer in Richmond Park.

For the Lazy Sunday Hikers – Ham House from Richmond Walk London Day Hike

For those that like their walks with detours to cosy pubs and roast dinners, this route is ideal. This circular walk begins and ends handily at Richmond station, and if you’re lucky you might spot one of Richmond Park’s famous inhabitants. King Henry’s Mound still offers beautiful panoramic views of London, and there’s always the option to warm up with coffee and cake at Ham House, or The Dysart for those with deeper wallets. One of my favourite spots along this trail however is closer towards Richmond’s centre, along the Thames. Pubs line the riverfront, and in winter there’s a good chance you can stretch out and have a portion to yourself on a Sunday.  

For more information and to download the trail guide, check The National Trust website.

Slaugham Place historic remains.

For the History Buff Hikers – Balcombe Circular Walk London Day Hike

Located approximately 40 minutes away on the train from London Bridge, this walk takes London hikers through some of the prettiest sections of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The forests and walkways of Nymans gardens easily lull hikers into multiple detours around its stunning landscapes. The ruins of Slaugham Place, a 16th-century Elizabethan manor house, are also a beautiful place to stop for a breather. At the end of the walk in Balcombe is the quaint and hiker-friendly Half Moon Inn pub, to toast a successful walk.

To try this hike yourself, check out the Saturday Walker’s Club route directions.

Box Hill view London day hikes

For the ‘Tree Huggers’ – Mole Gap Trail Day Hike

While the Mole Gap Trail is famous in the summer for the fact that it includes a pitstop at the largest vineyard in England, hiking this in winter showcases the sheer variety of ancient trees located along this trail. Starting at Leatherhead station, the route meanders along the river before gradually climbing through forests, where old yew and box woodlands dwell. Towards the end of the trail hikers are treated to views from Box Hill after a lung-busting climb.

Box Hill London day hikes

If the thought of exploring hills and forests has you ‘leaf’ing the comfort of your sofa, check the route instructions from the folks at Explore Surrey or check out more things to see and do around Box Hill via my guide.

London winter day hikes ightham mote

For Historic House Hikers – Sevenoaks London Day Hike

For some strange reason, Sevenoaks is not featured too often in London guides. Despite being only a short distance from London and featuring Kent’s only deer park (think Richmond Park, but quieter), two expansive historic National Trust houses, not to mention an adorable high street with multiple lunch stops, it never attracts the same level of attention.

This is all the more benefit for hikers that venture on this route, as you can roam the deer park in search of its four-legged locals, admire the unusual architecture of Knole House and Ightham Mote, or count the number of oast houses (those houses with white caps on the pointy roofs that only seem to exist in Kent) you spot along the trail.

Knole park deer london day hikes sevenoaks

One of the benefits of hiking around Sevenoaks is the sheer number of footpaths in the area. Check some of my recommendations for extending hikes around this area, or follow through to the handy Saturday Walkers Club for route directions.

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National Walking Month and London Walks: Kingston to Ham House

 

May Day not only marks the beginning of spring festivals, but the beginning of National Walking Month in the UK. With celebrated British writers such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, Virginia Woolf and Wordsworth celebrating the joys of walking in their works, if you’re a fan of walking, you’re in good company.

To celebrate the beginning of one of AmorExplore’s favourite month-long holidays, London residents are in for a treat as we are launching the beginning of our London Walks features for the blog. And who better to celebrate the beginning of the feature than with Britain’s own conservator of the countryside, The National Trust. The first of the London Walks series is a scenic, easy walk around Ham House from Kingston railway station. Approximately only 30 minutes from London Waterloo, the walk caters to all ability levels and with regular restaurants and pubs, historic monuments, wildlife spotting and scenic areas, is a definite people pleaser.

After a short walk from the station, the beginning of the trail leads along a much more scenic route along the Thames locks, with small boats moored along the backyard docks of picturesque houses.

 

teddingtonlock

 

At some point, Eel Pie Island will pass by on the left. Renowned as one of London’s best jazz and blues venues in the 1960s, performers such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Acker Bilk are only a few of the famous faces that graced the island during that time. After a brief stint as a hippie commune in the 70s, and a botched invasion by TV presenter Danny Wallace in 2005, the island is now home to a colourful and eclectic set of shanty homes, studios and the Twickenham Rowing Club. Follow the footbridge over for a quick diversion on the trail.

 

twickenhamrowboats

 

 

balancingact

 

Being a National Trust walk, the trail will eventually meet with Ham House and Gardens, a regal 17th century Stuart manor home situated on the bank overlooking the Thames in a very dramatic fashion. Known as one of Britain’s most haunted houses, Ham House contains a plethora of artwork, furniture and textiles that are well worth a look, plus some meticulously kept gardens that all visitors should take advantage of with a sunny summer stroll. There is also a cafe serving tea and other light refreshments, making this a good stop on the walk if you fancy a lunch-time break from walking to replenish your energy.

 

Hamhouse

 

After diverting traffic by the Dysart Arms Pub, simply cross the street and enter through the kissing gate at Petersham Meadows. Car fumes and traffic noise dies away along this tranquil, open path. Head towards the hills on the left until you reach King Henry’s Mound at the summit. With narrow, manicured walkways and a detailed, panoramic map of London’s skyline, King Henry’s Mound is an excellent spot to take a break (and catch your breath) after the steep incline to point out famous landmarks.

For animal lovers, the best parts of the trail is next. While many theories fly around (apologies for the pun) about the origins of the Kingston Parakeets, no one truly knows their origins in Britain. The general gist from all the hypotheses though, is that parakeets escaped, didn’t die in the wild, mated like rabbits (or parakeets, apologies again) and have grown in size, with some estimates at 50,000. Today groups of these vivid green critters can be seen perched on trees lining the roads to Richmond Park, or scavenging the grass for meals.

 

Richmondparakeets

 

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Possibly Richmond Park’s most famous inhabitants, approximately 630 Red and Fallow deer call these woods home. Congregating in big groups, it is easy to see the female and their young in the spring. The stags on the other hand, prefer to shy away from the limelight, and normally camouflage themselves within the woods.

 

richmondfemaledeer

 

deerstare

 

Sometimes though, they get a little envious and want a piece of the attention….

 

Richmonddeer

 

 

stagrichmond

 

Continue to follow the trail as it takes you to the manicured lawns and play areas of Richmond Park, and back to Kingston station. Or take this opportunity to go off the beaten trail and explore more of Richmond Park. For full trail instructions, please see the National Trust walk website here.

 

Richmondparkpath

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