Need to get out of the house after all of the Christmas festivities? Get some fresh air on one of these scenic walks in London. It’s the perfect chance to also check out London’s zoos and famous historical sites. From Hampstead Heath to the Royal Parks, picks out some of the best places for walks in London
Words: Cassie Smith
1 Regents Canal, 9 miles
You’ll see a lot on this walk from Little Venice in Maida Vale to Limehouse Basin by the river Thames. The walk passes many of London’s most notable sites, including Regent’s Park and Camden. On route, stop for a minute to stroll through some of Camden’s many stalls and pick up unusual knick knacks.
2 Tamasin Trail Wildlife, 7 miles
Richmond Park is known as one of the UK’s most important wildlife conservation centres. Keep an eye out for the frolicking deer that call Richmond Park home. The wildlife filled meadows are the perfect picturesque places to test out that new camera you received from Father Christmas.
3 Friends of Richmond Park Walking Tours, 2 hours
The walk on Boxing Day kicks off at Roehampton Gate car park at 10am. On the tour you’ll learn about history-rich Park and enjoy a panoramic view of the Thames Valley. If you look closely enough the dome of St. Paul’s can be spotted.
4 Christmas at Kew, 1 hour
Get an insight into Kew’s history, plants, science and Christmas highlights with the daily Introduction to Kew Gardens Tour. Every day of the year except 24 and 25 December at 11am and 1.30pm. Tours last one hour and are free with entry to the Gardens. Tours start and finish at the Guides Desk, Victoria Plaza.
5 South Flower Walk, 3 miles
See the best of the Kensington Gardens on the South Flower Walk. The walk passes Albert Memorial before continuing on to Kensington Palace, home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Once you arrive at the Palace you can sit back and relax in the Orangery café or take a stroll around the royal gardens.
6 Wandsworth Common, 4.5 miles
Before beginning the walk around the Wandsworth Common pop into the Hope Pub on Bellevue Road for a beer to go. Be sure to stop there again once you’re finished the route, which takes you around two lakes, woodlands and grasslands. The Hope Pub has also some of the best burgers in Wandsworth. Photo credit: Herry Lawford
7 Thames Path, 7 miles
The walk begins at Barnes Bridge in Chiswick and travels along the Thames to Embankment. Along the way you’ll pass through London’s most well known neighbourhoods, like Chelsea, and see some of the most famous sites, like the Houses of Parliament, plus you’ll see lesser-known attractions and sites.
8 Wimbledon Heritage Park Trail, 3 miles
Wimbledon Common gives you a break from craziness you probably experienced all Christmas long in the city. It’s a peaceful haven with acres of open space and fresh air, plus plenty of muddy puddles for jumping in and excellent climbing trees. End the walk at the Café Pavilion for a light lunch and coffee.
9 Palace Playground, 2 miles
The Bushy Park tour which takes you on a trail known as The Palace Playground comes with a complete podcast that you can download so you can fully indulge yourself in the history of the park. On the ten stops of your walk you’ll see a number of monuments including Hampton Court Palace, as well as open fields.
10 The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, 7 miles
No other walk will guide you through so many beautiful palaces and breathtaking parks. On the Diana Memorial walk you’ll pass through St James’s, Green and Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The walk is guided by plaques of the Princess’s heraldic rose set in the ground to honour the Princess of Wales’s memory along the way.
11 Chiswick House and Gardens, 1 mile
Explore the gorgeous grounds of the Chiswick House. Unfortunately, the house is closed until the springtime, but check out the Conservatory, open every day until 4pm. The 19th century conservatory has been restored to house some of the same flowers that bloomed in it over two hundred years ago.
12 Battersea Park Walk, 1 mile
On this walk you’ll pass some of Battersea Park’s best known attractions. Making your way along the river, you’ll see the towering Peace Pagoda. When the kids begin to get restless stop by the Battersea Zoo. It’s the home of a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and more are held. There’s even an interactive play area.
13 Putney Heath Stroll, 4 miles
Follow the pavement as it curves right at West Hill and then turn left under the roadway at Tibbet’s Corner roundabout to find this lovely south west London walk. Putney Heath, located in the Wimbledon Commons, is full of open space. The bike paths are the perfect place to ride that brand new bike, plus on the walk you’ll see the 19th century windmill that has been restored to near perfect condition. Stop by the museum to learn more about its fascinating history. (Photo: Mathew Knott)
14 Blackheath-Greenwich Trail, 1 mile
This walk pays off in the end with spectacular views of London from Greenwich Park. Starting at Blackheath station you’ll move into Blackheath Park, with enough open space to run around and play games. After making your way through Blackheath, you’ll move on to Greenwich Park. Be sure to stop by the tall gates into Greenwich Park to admire General Wolfe’s statue, looking out over the river Thames. When you come to the end of your walk in Greenwich Park take in the view of Canary Wharf’s tall towers and upstream, London’s West End.
15 Clapham Common, 2 miles
Clapham is a busy scene, especially on Boxing Day, which makes it a fun place for a family walk. Located right by Clapham’s high street, exchange wrongly sized presents and then make your way over to common area. You can even pick up lunch at one of the many supermarkets or cafés on the high street to enjoy a chilly picnic at Clapham Common. The Windmill pub is also one of the few businesses actually on the common. If you need a drink after your walk, that’s the place to stop. (Photo: Tom Loudon)
16 Bishops Park, 1.5 miles
Can’t make it to the Mediterranean this Christmas break? It may not be the same, but Bishops Park has what it calls an urban beach. The cold may prevent you from swimming, but you can still enjoy the sand and look forward to summer fun. This walk will not only take you past the Bishops Park urban beach, but also along the river Thames. The recently restored park boasts many play areas, including playgrounds, a skate bowl and basketball courts.
17 Parliament Hill and Tumulus, 1.5 miles
Hampstead Heath is full of wonderful mysteries. This walk begins and ends at the Parliament Hill café and takes you around the Parliament Hill fields. There are so many sites to see, like the Tumulus. The Tumulus is a mysterious patch of pine trees where many believe it could be an ancient burial ground. The walk also takes you past the Saxon ditch from 986 AD. It is believed to be the oldest human feature throughout the heath. The final, and most exciting, part of the walk will take you to Parliament Hill. Parliament Hill, the highest point in London, has breathtaking views of the city. From here, you’ll be able to see Westminster, Big Ben and more.
18 Hampstead Heath Circuit, 6 miles
For a more rigorous walk with just as much excitement at Hampstead Heath, complete the Heath Circuit. This walk has a more country feel to, leading visitors past the Millfield Farm along Poet’s Lane, where Keats and Coleridge used to gain inspiration for some their most well known poems. Along the way you’ll also pass by the Kenwood house full of a unique collection of paintings. The end of the walk may be uphill, but it will be worth it to reach the top of Parliament Hill for breathtaking views of London.