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“I’ve been walking about London for the last 30 years, and I find something fresh in it everyday.” – Walter Besant
Whether getting reacquainted with the city or heading to pastures new, we’ve sought out 10 of the best walks – from urban strolls to riverside meandering – in and around London.
1. Hampstead Heath Circular
Beginning on Hampstead High Street, ramble down past the Wells and Campden Baths, bypass Heath proper and start your slow ascent up Parliament Hill. At the summit, enjoy panoramic views across central London. On your descent, walkers can take in Kenwood House, Hampstead’s peaceful woods and picturesque views at Viaduct Bridge.
2. Victoria Park
The first planned park in Britain, Victoria Park was built in London’s East End in the 1840s. Spanning over 200 acres of parkland, this short and pleasant walk or cycle is enhanced by tree-lined walkways and weekend sporting activities. Follow your stroll with a late breakfast at the Pavilion Cafe, overlooking the boating lake. Big walkers can continue all the way out to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
3. Hackney Marshes
For a gentle walk, traipse the Hackney Marshes and discover hidden playgrounds, finding the perfect spot for kite-flying along the way. Beginning at Wickland Woodland, the path leads you to the Lea Navigation Canal before continuing on to the Hackney Main Marsh. The final stretch takes in East Marsh and passes Spitalfields Fruit and Vegetable Market.
4. The Thames Path
This stretch along the River Thames traces the majority of the route taken during the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race. Aside from race week, this route is ideal a peaceful amble. A linear London walk (a mainly flat path) follows the River Thames upstream between Putney Bridge and Barnes Bridge. You’ll go through Fulham Palace Gardens and pass the slipways for St Paul’s School Rowing Club before you reach your end point of Barnes Bridge.
5. Richmond to Ham House
Featuring iconic views, this circular route leads you from the urban bustle of Richmond town centre to a rural riverside walk along the Thames Path. Beginning at the top of Richmond Hill and moving down towards the Thames, head into Richmond Park and King Henry’s Mound before leaving the park. Meander through the gorgeous village of Ham – think beautiful Georgian mansions and polo club –before reaching your final stop, Ham House. A National Trust property, Ham House boasts a beautiful second-hand bookshop and excellent cream teas.
6. Hampton Court Palace
There are numerous walks that start or end at the palace. After visiting the Tudor beauty and its gardens, extend your day with a lengthy walk. Stretch your legs with a tranquil meander past palaces, meadows and riverside views as you stroll along the river from Hampton Court Palace to Teddington Lock. Continue on to Battersea Park – or as far as your legs will carry you.
7. The Princess Diana Memorial Walk
This commemorative walk features buildings and locations associated with Princess Diana during her lifetime. A seven-mile-long walk, charted by 90 plaques, the walk highlights the density of green areas in Central London. Along the way, pass through four of the eight Royal Parks including St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
8. North Greenwich to Blackheath
At a little under an hour, this is a lovely walk in any season. Begin at the Millennium Dome and Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud artwork at North Greenwich Pier before following the river past Greenwich Yacht Club and continuing on through Hanging Wood, right up to Woolwich Common. There are plenty of stops along the way for ice cream in the summer months.
9. The Jubilee Greenway
Saunter along one of the most soothing and attractive sections of the Jubilee Greenway, packed with interest such as narrow boats and aqueduct bridges along canal towpaths. The 37-mile route around the north of London, takes in Regent’s Canal, Little Venice and finishes up at Camden Lock Market where you can nab a bargain and relive your teenage years.
10. Hyde Park
One of London’s eight Royal Parks, leafy Hyde Park stretches across 350 acres. Enjoy a stop-start stroll through the park, pausing at the Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, observing artworks at the Serpentine Galleries or grabbing coffee at the waterside café. There’s also a glorious avenue of sweet-chestnut trees running between the sandy track of Rotten Row and the Serpentine in Hyde Park. In the summer, sun-loungers dot every green area and Londoners head for the banks of the Serpentine and Lido to cool off.
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