There’s nothing quite like strapping on your hiking boots and going for a gorgeous country walk is there? Want to go hiking near London and not sure where to start? Don’t miss this guide to the best hikes and walks near London.
Much as I love London, there’s something so enjoyable about heading out of town bounded for the great outdoors.
Call it a hangover from the many childhood days I spent with my family catching slow, puttering trains to Box Hill and the like, a picnic we could barely carry in tow, aiming to escape the concrete jungle and enjoy our little slice of rural life.
Today I still spend many a weekend gulping lungfuls of fresh air as I tramp my way across south east England’s extensive network of footpaths.
Why not? IMHO There are few things better.
Luckily for all of us, London is blessed with a number of spectacular hikes and country walks in close proximity. Simply hop in your car and you can shape your day’s adventure.
Need a few ideas? Here are ten of my favourite spots to go hiking near London.
PS, you should also check out my guide to the best walks in London too.
10 Perfect Routes for Hiking Near London
Seaford to Eastbourne
This is one of the most spectacular day hikes near London, with views of (and plenty of hiking on) the distinctive chalk cliffs that form the Seven Sisters.
Where many of the other walks in this list are all about gentle pleasures, this one is all about the dramatic views.
There’s no gentle suggestion of beauty – set off on the walk and boom – you’re looking at one of the most iconic panoramas in the UK.
You’ll pass the infamous Beachy Head, wend your way down to Birling Gap (where I’d very much recommend sitting down for a picnic with the best views of the Seven Sisters spread out before you).
There aren’t really any flat sections – but who needs flat sections and an easy ride when you have gorgeous panoramas instead? It’s no surprise that with so many ups and downs, your legs are in for one hell of a workout too.
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
Read Next: Amazing Day Trips from London
Hampton Court to Staines
Hampton Court may be one of London’s famous historic palaces, but it’s also the starting point for this gorgeous Thameside walk.
The walk is a part of the Thames Path, which runs the full length of the River Thames from its source to the Thames Barrier (I’d highly recommend taking a week and a half to walk the full path if you have the time, it’s beautiful).
This is the first section of the path from London that really takes you into the countryside – you wend your way past locks, boat clubs, small Surrey towns and reservoirs and through quiet fields – there’s even a quaint ferry crossing to shuttle you from one part of the walk to the next.
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
The Oak Trail, Epping Forest
Starting from Theydon Bois, The Oak Trail leads you through parts of Epping Forest – complete with a deer sanctuary and a great pub (The Old Bull) for a pub lunch at the end.
There’s something so civilised about being able to catch the tube to take a walk.
Although it’s only 12 miles from the centre of London – the nearest you’ll get to hiking in London – there are times on The Oak Trail when you feel much further away.
The walk is nicely varied – meandering between wide open spaces and through the oak trees that give the trail its name – the perfect way to explore one of the most expansive forests near London.
Distance: 6.39 miles
How to Get There: Underground to Theydon Bois (Central Line)
Approximate Time to Complete: 2.5 hours
Ah, Box Hill. I have many fond memories of going on long hikes here as a child (it still amazes me the paths my mother could tackle with a pushchair in tow) and I still think it offers some of the best walks near London today.
Box Hill and the nearby Headley Heath are managed by the National Trust, both offering the chance to see a different side to rural Surrey.
What’s more 40 of the 58 species of butterfly found in the UK can be found in the area.
There are a lot of hikes in and around Box Hill (check out the National Trust’s guide here) but my favourite is the Box Hill Circular from the Saturday Walkers Club.
Be warned. The walk is only 9.2 miles long but there are few very strenuous bits here – just remind yourself that the views you’ll get from the top are totally worth the huffing and puffing as you slog your way up the steepest stretches. They totally are.
Distance: 9.2 Miles
How to Get There: Trains run from London Victoria and London Waterloo to Boxhill & Westhumble Station. Journey times vary between 1 hour 20 – 1 hour 40 minutes.
Approximate Time to Complete: 4 hours
Abingdon to Oxford
OK, so I’m cheating slightly as this is also another section of the Thames Path but believe me when I say that you should give it a try.
There were many afternoons while I was at university where my friend Patrick and I used to skive off of studying, hop on the bus from Oxford and tackle this walk to clear our heads – and I still find myself popping up from London to do it once a year or so.
The picturesque ancient market town of Abingdon is often overshadowed by Oxford, but it’s a nice place to spend some time pottering around before you set off to walk this section of the Thames.
The walk itself is surprisingly quiet, wending its way alongside the river and past a series of locks and charming pubs before entering into Oxford from the south.
Oxford is a beautiful place at the best of times, but the sight of the city of dreaming spires rising from beyond the river as you finish your walk ends the experience on the very best note.
Distance: 10 miles
How to Get There: Catch the train from London Paddington to Didcot Parkway and then the X2 bus to Abingdon. Total journey time is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Direct trains run frequently from Oxford to Paddington and take around 1 hour.
Approximate Time to Complete: 4 hours
Berwick to Exceat Bridge
The Vanguard Way is one of the south-east’s many hidden treasures – an underrated walk that leads from Croydon (literally from my doorstep) to Newhaven. Though the whole walk takes quite a few days, this section from Berwick to Exceat Bridge is one of my favourites.
Cute Berwick is a nice place to start the walk but it’s Alfriston, a small and rather twee ye olde village that you pass through later on the walk that is bound to steal your heart.
After Alfriston and a pretty chunter along the Cuckmere River things get tough, with a steep climb up to Friston Forest (see if you can sneak a peek out to the sea from the vantage point) before you descend down to Exceat Bridge.
If you’re feeling energetic, you can extend this walk to Cuckmere Haven for a glimpse of the stunning Seven Sisters (recommended).
Distance: 6.5 miles
How to Get There: Trains run from London Victoria to Berwick (with a change in Polegate) and take around 1 hour 40 minutes. From Exceat Bridge you can catch the bus to Brighton, Eastbourne or Seaford for a return train to London.
Approximate Time to Complete: 4 hours
Belchamp Brook Walk
Head to a quiet part of Essex to the pretty Stour Valley for a walk along Belchamp Brook and then back through landscapes much-loved and immortalised by the English paintersThomas Gainsborough and John Constable.
Much of the walk is through tranquil common land – starting and finishing in the historical town of Sudbury.
Distance: 9 miles
How to Get There: Take the train from London Liverpool Street to Marks Tey and change for the Sudbury train. Takes approximately 1 hour 45 minutes.
Approximate Time to Complete: 5 hours
There are so many pretty villages tucked away in East Sussex but this walk takes you to one of my favourites – Rodmell – distinguished not only for its looks but also for Monk’s House, former home of Virginia Woolf.
You start and finish at Southease Station.
The walk along the River Ouse comes with views of chalk downs and cliffs of the South Downs National Park before you towards Rodmell and then climb up to join the South Downs Way before popping back down to Southease again. It’s only 5 miles so is an easy one to do on shorter days.
Distance: 5 miles
How to Get There: Train to Southease Station from London Victoria and London Bridge (change at Brighton). Journey time is approximately 1 hour 20 minutes.
Approximate Time to Complete: 3 hours
Fans of Jane Austen (me!) will love this walk – a delightful hike through the part of Hampshire that Austen called her home for the last eight years of her life.
You can’t help but channel your inner Lizzy from Pride & Prejudice as you tramp along muddy footpaths and through quiet towns.
You can even visit Chawton, Austen’s old home (but beware of timings as it does tend to close quite early).
Distance: 12.7 miles
How to Get There: Catch the direct train from London Waterloo to Alton. Trains take roughly 1 hour 20 minutes.
Approximate Time to Complete: 6 hours
Bodiam Castle Walk
There are so many castles dotted around London that it seems silly not to combine a visit to one with a long walk.
Bodiam Castle is one of Sussex’s most striking castles – it’s not difficult to imagine people living in the imposing moat-lined fortress, which has been remarkably well preserved.
This is an easy walk – although it can get very muddy. The biggest attraction is the castle itself – other than that, the walk is just a nice chance to stretch your legs and escape the crowds.
Distance: 5 miles
How to Get There: Train from London Bridge to Robertsbridge (5 miles) or Battle (10 miles). Both take around 1 hour 15 minutes but you need to catch a taxi from the station to the castle. There’s no taxi rank at Robertsbridge so you need to book ahead.
Approximate Time to Complete: 2 hours
Read Next: Castles in and Near to London You Need to Explore
Country Walks Near London: Practical Tips
If you are planning on tackling one of these hikes near London, here are a couple of practical tips to help you plan your trip.
- Start early. Though none of these walks are particularly long, it pays to start as early as you can (generally by 9 / 10am). This is particularly important during the short days of winter unless you want to find yourself hiking in the dark!
- Bring a waterproof jacket with you. I’ve learnt the hard way that even the sunniest day can hold a surprise rain shower or two.
- Wear proper hiking boots, particularly during the muddy season. The quality of footpaths can vary hugely and they can get very muddy when it’s wet – save yourself the soggy feet and wear proper footwear.
- Brush up on your countryside code. Close gates behind you, don’t litter etc etc. It seems so obvious doesn’t it.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up at every opportunity you can. Nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a tongue that’s drier than sandpaper and no prospect of refreshment for hours to come.
- It is advisable (though not necessary) to have the OS Map of the area before you set off. That way if you do stray from the prescribed route, you can negotiate your way back to it (or to the nearest town) without difficulty.
Looking for More Hiking Around London Ideas?
Time Out’s Country Walks Near London Volume I and Volume 2 are invaluable for planning a nice walk or two – mine are well-thumbed and so well-used but always lure me in with the potential for more adventures.
So, there we are… the best hikes near London. Now all that’s left for you to do is hop on a train and go do them!
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- The Thames Path, 184 miles.
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- The Coast to Coast Walk, 182 miles.
- The Cumbria Way, 70 miles.
- South West Coast Path, 630 miles.
- Offa's Dyke, 177 miles.
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- Hadrian's Wall Path, 84 miles.
- Wanstead Flats.
- Wimbledon Common.
- Putney Heath.
- Lauriston Road (Wimbledon)
- Pole Hill.
- Bournwell Hill (Hadley Wood)
- Highwood Hill.
The word "hiking" is used in the UK, but less often than walking; the word rambling (akin to roam) is also used, and the main organisation that supports walking is called The Ramblers.
THE SALKANTAY & INCA TRAILS TO MACHU PICCHU
The Inca Trail has been one of the most famous and most popular hiking routes in the world for many years. It leads to the mysterious and ancient site of Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel ruin.
Meet the trailblazing thru-hiker who walked 8,000 miles in a year. With 28,000 miles to her name, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Heather Anderson has made history on America's most iconic trails.
1. Mount Kilimanjaro – 5,895m.
But in general, it's a lot further than simply going around the block — or even the entire neighborhood. "For me, 12 to 22 miles in one set is considered a long-distance walk," says Hike Across America founder TShane Johnson. For others, it's even longer. "I've walked 100-plus miles over three days many times.
Many trails are marked on maps. Typically, a long-distance route will be at least 50 km (30 mi) long, but many run for several hundred miles, or longer.
The Appalachian Trail (United States)
Stretching for 2,200 miles between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine, the trail passes through more than a dozen states along its length. Along the way, it wanders through some of the most scenic locations that the Eastern U.S. has to offer.
- Conic Hill, Loch Lomond (350m) ...
- Mam Tor and the 'Great Ridge' (517m) ...
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- Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales (723m) ...
- Snowdon, Wales (1,085m)
Ben Nevis, Lochaber
Nicknamed “The Ben”, this is the highest – and one of the toughest – mountain challenges you can undertake in the UK, with an altitude of 1345 metres above sea level.
The highest point in Central London is Hampstead Heath (139 m), while the highest point in Greater London is Westerham Heights (250 m), part of Betsom's Hill (251m).
“hiking.” In North America, we tend to use “walk” in the same way we'd use “stroll” – a relatively easy excursion, usually along paved roads. We reserve the term “hike” for a more challenging trek through rugged terrain.
At a stretch, a tramp more specifically refers to a multi-day hike rather than a day hike. The word 'tramping' seems to be tied to the idea that kiwi's have a specific and exclusively rugged style of on-foot exploring.
There are easier ways to hike in Scotland. The Challenge is simply an extreme version of what is Scotland's national pastime: “hillwalking.” The country's Outdoor Access Code allows people to walk and pitch tents on both public and private land.
The more you weigh, the more calories your body is likely to burn on a hike. For example, a 160-pound person will burn somewhere between 430 and 440 calories per hour of hiking, while a 200-pound person will burn closer to 550 calories per hour of hiking.
Whereas the definition of hiking includes the word “walk”, something typically seen as jovial, easy and pleasant, trekking is defined as a “journey”, which is typically something that is more challenging, requires more effort and that tends to take more than one day.
Going up and down hills gets the heart pumping, creating a great cardio workout. Like most cardio exercises, hiking helps reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even some cancers. Hiking is a weight-bearing exercise, which builds muscle mass and helps prevent osteoporosis.
In fact, Phoenix has the most hiking routes overall, including the South Mountain Park and Preserve and the Echo Canyon Trailhead, both boasting jaw-dropping views of the city. Fourth place goes to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Oakland, California, rounds out the top five.
Accidents and Deaths
Only two deaths have been recorded online from falls on this hike, and (surprisingly?) only one involved a fall from the actual bridge. Both incidents occurred in 2014. This case was a 53 year-old woman in April of that year – she fell over 70 feet.
The Great Trail, formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail, runs for a rather daunting 14,912 miles (or 24,000km) and is currently the longest hiking trail in the world. There are also some stunning options elsewhere, travelling through Italy, Japan and even along the coast of England.
The world's longest designated hiking trail is the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs for 4,260 km (2,650 miles) along the West Coast of the USA between the Mexican and Canadian borders.
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Switzerland historically is one of the greatest hiking countries in Europe, and has been a favourite of the British for many many years. Jungfrau takes the spot as one of our best places to hike in Europe, not just because it's in Switzerland, but because it epitomises Alpine freedom and natural mountain beauty.
Nan Reisinger is the oldest female to hike the Appalachian Trail! The Appalachian Trail is 2,182 miles long and Nan joined us on the show to talk about her journey from Georgia to Maine! Nan started the trail on March 30 and finished on October 4.
28, Belgian ultrarunner Karel Sabbe summited Baxter Peak to claim the overall Fastest Known Time, or FKT, on the Appalachian Trail. He ticked off all 2,190 miles of the AT in 41 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes, eclipsing by more than four days the previous northbound FKT set last year.
Emma Gatewood had a tough life, so one day, at age 67, she decided to go for a nice long walk... and she became the first woman to through-hike the Appalachian Trail solo! She wore a pair of Keds sneakers and carried almost nothing with her, relying on her foraging skills and on the help of residents near the trail.
Scafell Pike is England's highest mountain (978m) and can be found in the stunning Lake District National Park. The hike to the summit is long, but well worth the effort – as you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding areas. For more information on Scafell Pike click here.
The most popular route, or tourist route as it's often known, is the Devil's Ladder (12km return). It's the most direct and shortest route and is a pretty strenuous walk that will take you between four and six hours. The track is fairly easy to see and follow.
|Rating||Distance OR||Elevation Gain and Loss (cumulative is double)|
|Moderate||5 to 8 miles||More than 1,500 feet|
|Hard||8 to 12 miles||More than 3,000 feet|
|Very Hard||12 to 15 miles||More than 4,500 feet|
|Extremely Hard||More than 15 miles||More than 6,000 feet|
The best way to experience the Seven Sisters Cliffs is by walking the coastal trail from Seaford to Eastbourne. The 22.5 km (14 miles) Seven Sisters walk is easy technically, though moderate due to the distance and the rolling ascents and descents over the Cliffs.
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The Trail is 153 miles (246 km) long. You should aim to take twelve days to complete the Trail. This allows a comfortable 13 miles a day. The trail has steep ascents and descents in places, and more energetic climbs up Box and the Colley Hills in Surrey and those in the Mid Kent Downs.
It's easy to get from London to Epping Forest. You can take the Central line of the London Underground to Theydon Bois tube station, which is in Zone 6. Depending where you leave the city, the trip can take less than 30 minutes. Once at Theydon Bois, it's a quick walk to the start of the Oak Trail in Epping Forest.
Experience this 11.7-km out-and-back trail near Eastbourne, East Sussex. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 3 h 8 min to complete. This trail is great for hiking, mountain biking, and running.
Hiking boots are not necessary, although a pair of sturdy trail runners are preferable to everyday sneakers. You will face two steep climbs out of Seaford and Cuckmere Haven (but both are over quickly) and one steep descent into Eastbourne. Other than that it's all rolling hills spooning you in!
Friston Forest is criss-crossed with trails that cater for off-road enthusiasts, while the undulating coastline of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters offers walks to suit every ability. The sea is great for swimming in summer, and the beach at Birling Gap offers a sandy introduction to the refreshingly cool water.
While the average 5-mile country walk probably takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes, you may find that this varies. Fast walkers, for instance, typically walk at a pace of around 12 minutes per mile. So, if you walk faster than the average person, a 5-mile walk might take you around one hour.
It broadly follows the line of the Greenwich Meridian. The route is three miles as the crow flies however most of the walk is along winding waterways, so it takes around three hours to complete the entire route.
How long does it take to complete the Trail? Most people take 8 or 9 days to walk the whole 100 miles (160km) at 12 – 15 miles (25km) a day. It's worth considering if you are walking that the villages where accommodation is are at the foot of the hill so you'll have to walk down in the evening and up in the morning.
The North Downs Way National Trail parallels the old Pilgrims' Way between Farnham and Canterbury. Much of the traditional route of the Pilgrims' Way is now part of the modern road network and the Ramblers have previously advised walkers wishing to follow it to use St.
The North Downs Way is really the child of the much older Pilgrims' Way, which runs along the base of the Downs from Winchester to the shrine of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. That route dates back to the 12th century and begins in Winchester and ends in Canterbury.
Original Tea Hut - Café in High Beech, Epping Forest - Epping Forest.
The trail takes about three hours, through fields, villages, and woods near the town of Epping. It passes through an ancient (pre-Roman) earthwork and goes around the edge of a deer sanctuary.
Epping Forest in north-east London covers three London boroughs as well as part of the neighbouring county of Essex. Easily within reach from the Central Line, the forest is one of the most accessible natural woodlands in London with activities for the whole family!