6 walks you can do from London
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Think living in London means you can't go on beautiful walks and explore the outdoors? Think again! All of these walks are local to the city or just a short journey away.
When we think of exploring the outdoors, we might think of it being exclusively in the countryside and far far away from big cities. In reality, going for long weekends away from cities isn't always possible. I've put together a list of walks that are really easy to do from the city, and show that the outdoors is all around us if we know where to look. I've started with London as it's the city I've lived in most recently, but I may expand it over time depending on where I end up next! I've included suggested start and end points, and the relevant maps you'll need to plan your exact routes.
Circumnavigate the whole of London on the Capital Ring Walk
The Capital Ring Walk is a 75-mile circular walk through the marshes, reservoirs, wide open spaces and woodland that embrace the UK's capital. It's helpfully been divided into 15 sections, so you can do it at your own pace over a few weekends. There is LOADS to see, from the ancient oak woodland of Biggin Wood to the breeding bird community of Walthamstow Marshes. Pass through the royal parkland of Richmond Park enjoyed by kings and queens of years gone by before visiting Olympic Park - much more the domain of sporting royalty during the 2012 Olympics. London is an enormous, bustling and vibrant city, but the Capital Ring Walk showcases some of its hidden gems and proves that fresh air, impressive wildlife and quiet can still be found.
Approx. distance: 75 miles total, but there are 15 sections of varying length
Map covering this area: There doesn't seem to be an OS map that covers the whole area that this walk entails whole walk, but there is loads of detailed information about all of the different sections on the Transport for London website here.
Stroll through the rolling downland of the southeast
The South Downs National Park is the UK’s youngest national park, and boasts rolling hills, sleepy hamlets and the 100-mile ridgeline of the South Downs Way. It's well worth doing the whole South Downs Way at some point, but you can easily explore parts of the area on a day trip from London. The towns of Arundel and Amberley — sounding just out of a fairytale and BOTH with castles — make ideal starting points, with direct trains from London Victoria station. There are loads of options of walks from here, so you can take in different landscapes depending on what tickles your fancy on the day. Walk through the woodland of Houghton Forest, the great variety of habitats in Arundel Park or stroll along the banks of the River Arun.
Approx. distance: varies depending on chosen route
Start at: Arundel train station
Finish at: Amberley train station
Map covering this area: OS Explorer OL10 (Arundel and Pulborough)
Loop around the town of Tring and see an extinct quagga
Tring is a small town lying north of London in the chalky Chiltern Hills, just about half an hour on the train from London Euston. From Tring station the Grand Union Canal can be followed to Little Tring, while you keep an eye out for the many bird species that call this stretch of the canal home. At Little Tring, you can then take the road back into the town of Tring itself. Make sure to drop in to the charming marvel that is the Natural History Museum at Tring, filled with every species you can imagine including my favourite, an extinct quagga (a zebra-like animal). After you've had a good old wander around the Museum, you can head over the rolling paths and woodland of Tring Park, before picking up The Ridgeway National Trail and following it back to Tring train station.
Approx. distance: 7 miles
Start at: Tring train station
Finish at: Tring train station
Map covering this area: OS Explorer 181 (Chiltern Hills North)
Hike along the Seven Sisters cliffs on the south coast
If you are longing for that fresh sea breeze, look no further than the Seven Sisters - a series of white chalk cliffs that look over the English Channel, which also form part of the South Downs Way. Starting at the town of Seaford, take the coastal trail over the undulating cliffs and admire the vast vistas out to sea. Pass through Birling Gap and see the lighthouse at Beachy Head, before hiking down through weatherbeaten bracken into the town of Eastbourne where you can grab some chips.
Approx. distance: 13 miles
Start at: Seaford (you can get a train to Brighton from London Victoria, and a bus to Seaford)
Finish at: Eastbourne seafront (take the bus back to Brighton, and then get a train back to London Victoria)
Map covering this area: OS Explorer OL25 (Eastbourne and Beachy Head)
Mole Gap Trail
It was the name of this trail that initially caught my eye, but it turns out the walk is just as lovely! This takes you on a stroll through the picturesque Mole Valley in the Surrey Hills. Join the River Mole in Leatherhead and follow it through Norbury Park, taking in woodland and views that stretch over to Box Hill. Don't be fooled into thinking you've got lost and strolled into the south of France (ok, that might be pushing it slightly) when you walk through the vineyards of Denbies Wine Estate, before finishing your walk at Dorking station.
Approx. distance: 6.5 miles
Start at: Leatherhead train station (direct trains from London Waterloo)
Finish at: Dorking train station (direct trains to London Waterloo)
Map covering this area: OS Explorer 146 (Dorking, Box Hill and Reigate)
The River Wandle is a tributary of the River Thames and flows for 9 miles through south London. The river has two sources, and so there are two starting points for the walk - Carshalton Ponds or Wandle Park. Just 50 years ago the Wandle was officially declared a sewer, but thanks to the local river trust and volunteers the Wandle has been returned to its former glory as a rich chalkstream habitat for wild trout and many other species (read more here!). Follow the river from one of its sources to where it meets the Thames at Wandsworth, admiring the flourishing nature among the buildings and roads of this busy city.
Approx. distance: 12.5 miles
Start at: Carshalton Ponds or Wandle Park
Finish at: Wandsworth station
Map covering this area: OS Explorer 161 (London South). The Wandle Valley Park website also has a map for the trail which you can download here.
Make your own!
I've put together a guide to planning a walk from your front door, meaning you can explore new routes by just stepping out of your home.