Hiking Near London: Top Trails and Tips

Hiking is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the beauty of nature. For those living in London, there are plenty of opportunities to go on a scenic walk or hike without having to travel too far. In this article, we will explore some of the best hikes and walks near London, providing practical tips and suggestions for those looking to embark on an adventure.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, there’s something for everyone on this list. From stunning vistas to quaint villages, the countryside surrounding London is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore!

Key Takeaways

  • This article provides a guide to the best hikes and walks near London.
  • There are plenty of opportunities for hikers of all levels, from beginners to experienced hikers.
  • The article includes practical tips and suggestions for those looking to embark on an adventure.

15 Perfect Routes for Hiking Near London

Seaford to Eastbourne

This route is perfect for those who enjoy dramatic views while hiking. The hike offers views of the Seven Sisters, which are distinctive chalk cliffs. The route passes through Beachy Head and Birling Gap, where hikers can enjoy a picnic while admiring the panoramic views. The hike is challenging, with no flat sections, but the stunning views make it worth the effort.

  • Distance: 13.6 miles
  • How to Get There: Trains run from London Victoria & London Bridge to Brighton, where you need to change for the train to Seaford – takes around 1 hour 30 minutes. Trains run from Eastbourne to London Victoria and take 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 7 hours
  • Map and Directions

Hampton Court to Staines

This route starts at Hampton Court, one of London’s historic palaces, and follows the Thames Path. Hikers will pass locks, boat clubs, small Surrey towns, reservoirs, and fields. There is even a quaint ferry crossing to shuttle hikers from one part of the walk to the next. This section of the Thames Path takes hikers into the countryside.

  • Distance: 12 miles
  • How to Get There: Trains run from London Waterloo to Hampton twice an hour and take 40 minutes. Trains from Staines run frequently and take between 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 5 hours
  • Map and Directions

The Oak Trail, Epping Forest

The Oak Trail in Epping Forest is a 6.39-mile hike that leads hikers through the forest, complete with a deer sanctuary and a great pub called The Old Bull for a pub lunch at the end. The trail is nicely varied, meandering between wide-open spaces and oak trees. The trail is accessible via the underground to Theydon Bois.

  • Distance: 6.39 miles
  • How to Get There: Underground to Theydon Bois (Central Line)
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2.5 hours
  • Map and Directions

North Downs Way

The North Downs Way is one of the most famous and oldest known hiking routes in the country. The trail runs all the way from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent and also joins part of what was once the route that pilgrims would take to get to Canterbury Cathedral, known as the Pilgrim’s Way. The trail passes through some areas of outstanding natural beauty and also passes through some places that are easily accessible from London.

  • Distance: 153 miles
  • How to get there: Pick a starting point and take trains from St. Pancras or Waterloo depending on where you start. You can find all the jump-off points in the maps and directions link below.
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 12 days (if you do it all)
  • Maps and Directions

Ashridge Estate

The Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire offers some of the best routes to stretch your legs on. The estate has a thousand acres of meadows and woodlands, and the meadows are full of bluebells in the spring. The estate also has winding paths and a nice cafe for a bit of refreshment after the hike.

  • How to Get There: Take the train from Euston to Tiring and then walk about half an hour from Tiring to Ashridge Estate Visitor centre where your walks begin.
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 2h45 mins
  • A map of the estate can be found here.

Leith Hill

Leith Hill is one of Surrey’s most popular and most beautiful hikes. The hike can be reached from London with ease, making it an ideal spot for a day hike. The hike can be arduous at times and involves a good stretch of uphill climbing, but the view from the top is worth the effort. The hike offers untouched nature and the chance to see the 18th-century Leith Hill Tower.

  • Distance: 9½ miles
  • How to Get There: Take the train from Vauxhall Station to Holmwood Station where the trail begins.
  • Approximate Time to Complete: 4 hours
  • Map and Directions

The Chess Valley Walk

The Chess Valley Walk is a 10-mile hike through the Chilterns that takes hikers through beautiful natural scenes, picturesque villages, and follows the River Chess. The Chess River is a chalk stream, meaning it’s exceptionally clear and a lovely sight as it pops in and out of view along the hike. The hike is accessible via the underground, and the route is waymarked, making it hard to get lost.

  • Distance: 10

Country Walks Near London: Practical Tips

For those planning to embark on a hike near London, there are a few practical tips to keep in mind. Starting early is crucial, especially during the winter months when daylight hours are limited. It is recommended to begin the hike by 9 or 10 am to avoid hiking in the dark.

Another important tip is to bring a waterproof jacket, even on sunny days. Unexpected rain showers can occur, and it’s always better to be prepared. Wearing proper hiking boots is also essential, especially during the muddy season. Footpaths can vary in quality and become very muddy when wet, so it’s best to wear appropriate footwear to avoid soggy feet.

Brushing up on the countryside code is also important. This includes closing gates behind you and avoiding littering. It may seem obvious, but it’s essential to respect the environment and wildlife.

Bringing a refillable water bottle and filling it up at every opportunity is crucial. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dry mouth and no prospect of refreshment for hours to come is never pleasant. It is also advisable to have an OS Map of the area before setting off, although not necessary. This way, if you stray from the prescribed route, it’s easier to negotiate your way back to it or to the nearest town without difficulty.

By following these practical tips, hikers can better enjoy their country walks near London while staying safe and comfortable.

Looking for More Hiking Around London Ideas?

For those who have already explored the hikes mentioned in this article, Time Out’s Country Walks Near London Volume I and Volume 2 offer a plethora of additional options for adventurous hikers. These well-loved guides provide valuable information for planning a new and exciting walk. With so many options available, hikers can easily find a new trail to explore by simply hopping on a train and heading out for a day of adventure.