Every now and then we all get that itch to get out of the city and into the countryside but it’s rare that we have enough time to travel too far afield and make a weekend of it. However, where there’s a will there’s a way and in our latest round-up you’ll find a host of picturesque country hikes and treks that are easy to get there and back from without having to book an overnight stay. Choose the one that best suits your cravings and get ready to feel that all-important disconnect from the city, even if just for a day.
Henley via Stonor
Most famous for its annual Regatta and loved for its quintessentially British sensibility, it may come as a surprise that Henley is also in the midst of one of the most beautiful and varied hikes within London’s reach. Sitting on the southern edge of the Chiltern Hills, it provides an idyllic spot for a post-walk cream tea or a well-deserved glass of wine. There are three variations on this particular trek and they range from a seven-hour, 13.6 mile option (which we suggest you save for the milder months) to a more manageable four-hour, 8.8 mile alternative. Each option takes you over the valley leading up to Stonor and features picturesque and historic views in equal part.
London trains to Henley-On-Thames leave from Paddington and take around 90 minutes.
The Seven Sisters, Seaford to Eastbourne
If you want to feel like you’ve really ‘gotten out’ of London for the day, then it’s the Seven Sisters hike from Seaford to Eastbourne that we recommend for its momentary detachment from city life. The white cliffs are, of course, a beautiful sight to behold but this trek offers so much more that that; lighthouses, beach towns and rolling hills all add to the charm of the coastline… and there’s not a tube station in sight. Bliss. The full route covers 13.8 miles and takes around seven hours to complete. Finish up on Eastbourne’s promenade and pier for an authentic fish and chip dinner.
London trains to Seaford leave from Victoria and take around 90 minutes.
It can be easy to overlook something that’s pretty much on your doorstep so for that reason, we’re reminding you of the beauty that is Hampstead Heath. North London’s natural haven and the perfect place to head to if you’re looking for a walk among the autumn leaves followed by a hearty English roast dinner, The Hampstead Circular, as it’s so called, starts and finishes at Hampstead underground station and it journeys through the heath as well as passing by Highgate Cemetery and stopping at a viewpoint at the top of Parliament Hill. If you’re in the mood for a little added culture, you can take a detour to the oldest pub in London, the Spaniards Inn, to enjoy both the area’s history and a welcome drink.
Take the Northern Line to Hampstead.
Epping Forest Oak Trail
The beauty of the Epping Forest Oak Trail for Londoners is that it’s on the tube map – just at the end of the Central Line to be exact. It’s far enough away from the centre of the city that it feels completely separate but it’s close enough that a day trip is not only accessible time wise, but it can be covered by your Oyster card as well – bonus. Ideal for those looking to spot a little wildlife, there’s a deer sanctuary along the route and the forest is home to hares, skylarks, and other such creatures you’ll only spot in woodland areas. It’s a shorter trek than certain other walks in our line-up (just 6.6 miles) which might add to its appeal; it starts and finishes at Theydon Bois tube station.
Take the Central Line to Theydon Bois.
Egham To Runneymead
A manageable circular walk through woodland terrain, the Egham to Runneymead trek is not only beautiful but it’s also steeped in historical significance. It passes Langham Pond – a designated site of special scientific interest due to the endangered species that it houses – as well as wetlands and brightly coloured meadows. Taking around two hours to complete, the 3.7 mile route is also situated close to Windsor Castle and its surrounding town which is well worth a visit post walk, not least for its coffee shops and picturesque cobbled streets. A great choice for those less dedicated to a lengthy trek but still seeking some nature and a little shopping fix all at once.
London trains to Egham from Waterloo take around 40-50 minutes.
Kingston to Ham House
If Hampstead’s that little bit too north but you don’t fancy journeying too far outside of central London then perhaps Kingston holds more appeal as a start and finish point? The Kingston to Ham House route leads you along one of the more scenic sections of the River Thames, through Richmond Park and past the beautiful Ham House and Garden which coincidentally, is also home to The Orangery café – a great spot for lunch mid-ramble. The entire trip (without the lunch break) will take around 3.5 hours as it covers eight miles of varied and beautiful London landscape.
London trains to Kingston from Waterloo take around 3o minutes.