LONDON HIKING: THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON FOR A HIKE

london-hiking

As much as you may love London, the need to strap on your hiking shoes and go for a short jaunt will arise at some time or the other. So if you are looking to do some London hiking or a gorgeous country walk and have no idea where to head to, then don’t miss out on these delightful day rambles, located a stone throw away from the British Capital.

Don’t forget to pack a picnic in your travel backpack, as there are plenty of great lunch stops along the way.

HAMPTON COURT-STAINES

Start: Hampton Court Palace
Finish: Staines Railway station
Distance: 12 mi / 19 km
Time: 5 hours
Transport: London Waterloo to Hampton station(40 minutes) Return Staines to London Waterloo (30 minutes)
Toughness: 3/10

The famous Hampton Court Palace is the starting point of this gorgeous walk along the River Thames. Being a part of the historic Thames Path, the first section takes through the last of the suburbs of London and into the towns of Surrey, passing through several locks and weirs before ending at Staines after a quaint ferry crossing. 

You can easily book this or any other walk with a reputed firm such as Mickledore in order to make the most of your trip. This is especially useful for those embarking on walking holidays for the first time or solo travellers.

ABINGDON-OXFORD

Start: Abingdon
Finish: Oxford
Distance: 1o mi / 16 km
Hike Time: 4 hours
Transport: Paddington station to Didcot Parkway (1h 30m). Catch the X2 bus to Abingdon. Return train Oxford to Paddington (1h).
Toughness: 3/10

This is another section of the lovely Thames Path that must be given a try. After pottering around a bit in the picturesque town of Abingdon admiring the 675 AD Townhall and Abbey, wind your way casually alongside the Thames. The walk goes past several locks and cozy pubs before entering Oxford from the south. The entrance to this beautiful town is enhanced by the lofty spires which rise from beyond the river as you walk in.

SOUTHEASE CIRCULAR

Start: Southease station
Finish: Southease station
Distance: 5 mi / 8 km
Hike Time: 3 hours
Transport: London Victoria/London Bridge station to Southease station(1h 20m). One change at Brighton.
Toughness: 3/10

This circular loop walk from Southease station is an easy one that can be done even on short days. Apart from the number of pretty villages tucked in the East Sussex countryside, the most famous one is Rodmell, known for the Monk’s House, former home of Virginia Woolf. A majority of the hike is alongside the River Ouse, with its views of cliffs and chalk downs before it joins the South Downs Way and back to Southease again.

HANBOROUGH-CHARLBURY

Start: Hanborough Station
Finish: Charlbury Station
Distance: 13 mi / 20 km
Hike Time: 6 hours.
Transport: Onward Paddington to Hanborough (1h 10m). Return Charlbury to Paddington (1h 20m)
Toughness: 6/10

Start the walk from River Evenlode over the fertile countryside and the 2100 acres of the Great Park. Take a dip in the river and rest in Stonesfield Ford’s meadow before heading on the old Roman road to Cirencester. This area now forms a part of the Oxfordshire Way. You pass through the delightful village of Stonesfield, Finstock, before finishing your hike six hours later at Charlbury.

HAMPSTEAD HEATH CIRCUIT

Start: Hampstead underground station
Finish: Hampstead underground station
Distance: 6.5 mi / 10 km
Hike Time: 3 hours
Transport: London Paddington to Hampstead Heath (43 minutes) two changes. Return services to London every thirty minutes.
Toughness: 4/10

Few people are aware that one of  North London’s natural havens is sitting right there at their doorstep. The Hampstead Heath Circuit is a perfect place to head for if you are in the mood for culture. The walk begins and ends at the station and journeys through heath and the Highgate Cemetery before passing by a viewpoint on top of Parliament Hill. The walk features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is accessible around the year and has several routes through ancient woodlands and paved paths.

SEAFORD TO EASTBOURNE

Start: Seaford
Finish: Eastbourne
Distance: 18 mi / 29 km
Hike Time: 10 hours
Transport: London Victoria to Seaford, via Brighton (1h 30m). Return Eastbourne to London Victoria direct(1h 30m)
Toughness: 7/10

This is a challenging trail as it constantly goes up and down till you reach the seaside town of Eastbourne. Apart from views of the chalky white cliffs overlooking the English Channel, the path passes by Chuckmore Haven before taking a photo stop at the Belle Tout lighthouse at Beachy Head. There is an excellent pub here with indoor and outdoor seating. From Beachy Head, you can continue in the direction of Eastbourne.

HENLEY CIRCULAR

Start: Henley
Finish: Henley
Distance: 9 mi / 14 km
Hike Time: 4 hours
Transport: Paddington to Henley-on-Thames, changing at Twyford. (1h)
Toughness: 3/10

From Henley, follow River Thames’ towpath, past Temple Island, and the 250m footbridge over Hambleden Mill weir. The walk is easy and ideal for lovers of tea and the river. There are plenty of tea rooms en route where you can take a brief stop before returning to Henley along the Oxfordshire Way.

HEVER TO LEIGH

Start: Hever Castle
Finish: Church of St Mary, Leigh.
Distance: 8 mi / 13 km
Hike Time: 3h 40m
Transport: London Bridge to Hever(41 m). Return from Leigh westbound train to London Bridge or eastbound to Charing Cross.
Toughness: 2/10

A delightful and fascinating walk through the Gardens of England. It covers two castles, lovely villages set among undulating hills, a stately home and the National Trust village of Chiddingstone. The walk ends in Leigh( pronounced Lie) at the large cricket ground. ( please note the Medway Valley is prone to flooding, and the walk may not be possible in such conditions).

MOLE GAP TRAIL

Start: Leatherhead Station
Finish: Dorking Station
Duration: 6 mi / 9 km
Hike Time: 3 hours
Transport: Dorking Station
Toughness: 2/10

A beautiful station-to-station walks through the varied countryside along the banks of the Mole River. The route goes through extensive woodlands providing great views of the Mole Gap, through Debbie’s Vineyard to Dorking Station. The trail offers a chance to visit two historic market towns and a river that has carved its route through North Downs’ chalk.

EPPING FOREST WILLOW TRAIL (2.5 MILES)

Start: Chingford Station
Finish: Chingford Plain
Distance: 2.5 mi / 4 km
Hike Time: one hour
Transport: take the central line from Liverpool Street to Theydon Bois or Epping(30 minutes)
Toughness: 3/10

Out of all the Epping Forest walks, the Willow Trail is easily the best-waymarked path and is a great day hike from London. This is an easy trail with just one steep incline at Connaught Water. This trail’s main feature is the epic birdlife, a 350-year-old Oaktree and grazing cattle, which has been the norm for over a thousand years. The most popular spot here is Connaught Water with its ducks, geese and swans. Explore the ten-acre lake, then head towards High Beech before taking the loop back to Chingford.


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