You might assume that the city of London, complete with its 12 line tube service and 700 bus routes, isn’t a city that people tend to walk around. You’d be mistaken though, as the English capital’s immense size and status as a “forest” city has led to the development of countless walking routes, and even nature hikes within the city limits. Guests of hotel packages London needn’t travel far to enjoy open green spaces and nature reserves, just a short tube journey away.
As spring sets in and the weather becomes a little milder, guests of hotels in the City of London are spoilt for choice for urban walking trails and escapes into nature. This blog will explore those walking routes that lay contrast between London’s bustling cityscape and the tranquil wilderness that surrounds it, giving you the chance to uncover the lesser-known areas of the English capital.
Thames Path - Greenwich To The Thames Barrier
Running about 2 miles, the Greenwich Peninsula to the Thames Barrier walk offers beautiful views over the Docklands and the Canary Wharf financial district. Whilst much of the area is being redeveloped, the last leg of the Thames Path boasts amazing views and historic echoes of the once thriving docklands. Starting at the iconic O2 Arena, the walk takes you past pockets of park and nature reserve, alongside dockland art installations.
Thames Path - Hampton Court To Albert Bridge
Tracking back west to an earlier stretch of the Thames Path, the 23 mile stretch of Thames between Hampton Court and Albert Bridge promises plenty of attractions, including Kew Gardens and of course the Tudor architecture of Hampton Court Palace. The entirety of the Thames Path is 185 miles long, so this plus the Greenwich stretch represents the last stretch of it. Other attractions along this 23 mile stretch include the serene Syon Park and the grassy fields of Marble Hill House.
Guests of the Montcalm Royal London House can reach the Greater West London borough of Richmond via the District and North London Overground lines. Richmond Park itself is the largest of the city’s royal parks at about 2360 acres, and boasts plenty of routes for walking once you’re there. Make sure not to miss the hidden botanic gardens - the Isabella Plantation - and the herds of roaming deer that have been roaming the grounds since the 17th century, when this was a royal hunting ground for Charles I. As a modern day nature reserve, Richmond Park promises a Thameside respite from the busy city.
Hyde Park And Kensington Gardens
Keeping to the theme of royal parks, this circular walk combines two, though they were both the same park before the 18th century. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens combined come to 625 acres of land, and both have their own unique characters. Hyde Park, home to summer music festivals, winter Christmas markets and a boating lake, is a popular hang out for locals and often acts as the meeting point for city-wide protests and demonstrations. Kensington Gardens on the other hand, has a more formal, quieter landscape than its neighbouring royal park. Make sure to pop into the Serpentine Gallery that borders both parks, a contemporary art gallery that’s free to visit.
Regent’s Canal - Paddington To Camden
Regent’s Canal has a long history and was once used as a transport route for goods in and out of London and all the way up to the Midlands. Nowadays though, it is home to a colourful collection of houseboats, canalside cafes and even a puppet theatre barge! The stretch between Paddington’s Little Venice and North London’s Camden is especially scenic, bordered by tree lined Georgian townhouses. End your hour long walk in Camden where you can enjoy markets and street food stalls. Alternatively, continue down Regent’s Canal and follow it to Kings Cross, Angel and Hackney. The entire length of the canal is about 8 and a half miles, so if you do continue your walk, expect it to take a good afternoon of your time.
Easy to reach from hotels near Old Street London, Hackney Marshes is the ending leg of the Lea Valley, and acts as a green belt between central and East London. Bordered by Stratford and Walthamstow on one side and by Tottenham and the borough of Hackney on the other, Hackney Marshes is a system of canals and woodlands that congregate at the mouth of the River Lea. The vast fields of Hackney Marshes slowly turn into woodland enclaves and even into a nature reserve in the form of the Walthamstow Wetlands. The latter’s former Victorian reservoirs have been transformed into a sanctuary for migrating and local birds.
Hampstead Heath Circular Walk
Consisting of almost 800 acres of woodland, Hampstead Heath is an ancient woodland that has been preserved in London for centuries. Situated in North London, the surrounding area’s rustic cafes and pubs feel more like the Cotswolds than they do a London suburb. The Heath itself is home to 30 ponds, several of which are open for freshwater swimming, whilst the views from Parliament Hill are some of the best in London.
Great Oak Trail
Heading to the east London borderlands of Theydon Bois, this Central Line-connected woodland sums up why London is known as a “forest” city. Stretching 339 square kilometres in total, the Great Oak Trail is a good 6.6 miles long, and passes lakes, ponds and marshland past huge, ancient oaks that date back hundreds of years. The historic significance of Epping Forest lies in its ties with the Romans and Boudica of the native Iceni tribe, who, legend has it, skirmished with each other in the first century.
South Bank To London Bridge
No more than a mile and a half in total, the stretch between the south Bank and London Bridge is teeming with attractions and landmarks. With a backdrop of the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and a myriad of cultural institutions such as the National Theatre and the British Film Institute, the South Bank is not only a scenic walk racked with sightseeing opportunities but an entertainment district in and of itself. Head towards London Bridge and you’ll pass the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and stop for a bite to eat at the bustling Borough Food Market.