London is one of the world’s great global cities, yet there’s a wealth of wonderful countryside on the doorstep. Here is our pick of the best walks near London which you can do by train or car.
For a city with a population of 9 million people London is blessed with easy access to wonderful green spaces. Its edges contain grand Royal Parks, medieval hunting grounds and age-old forests.
While a little further afield – easily accessible by car or train – the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty of Southeast England provide a playground for a great escape from the city. To the west of London, the Chilterns and Thames Valley has charming riverside strolls, country pubs and grand market towns. To the south, the South Downs National Park sweeps over rolling hills before ending at towering white cliffs that plunge into the sea.
But it’s not all charming green country vistas, there are also interesting city walks and riverside ambles collecting quaint villages and picturesque towns.
This is our curated guide of the best walks near London, developed after living in the area for over 30 years. There’s a range of walks from flat and easy half-day strolls to more arduous long day hikes. Each can be accessed by car or train in under 90 minutes from central London.
We have included timings, distances, and maps with instructions for each of the walks.
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IN THIS GUIDE // WALKS NEAR LONDON
01 – IVINGHOE BEACON
To the north and west of London, the Chiltern Hills rise above low-lying plains. Peaking at only 260 metres they may not be that high but, wrapped in wooded valleys, fine views have attracted the landed gentry and walkers for centuries.
This lovely walk near London explores the far northern end of the Chilterns. It begins by climbing up the 233-metre-high Ivinghoe Beacon, the site of an early Iron Age Fort and an ancient signal point.
It continues through the forests of the Ashridge Estate which in spring are rich with wild garlic and bluebells before descending to the cute village of Aldbury. The trail then climbs again to join a section of the Ridgeway National Trail as it undulates over grassy hillocks.
There are a few steady ups and downs but nothing too challenging and there are plenty of places with good views to take a break. Aldbury, in the middle of the walk, has two fine pubs, public toilets, a National Trust café, and a shop. During summer, there’s also an ice cream van.
Ivinghoe Beacon Walk
IVINGHOE BEACON WALK BY CAR
Start – Pitstone Hill Car Park | Distance – 12.5-kilometre circuit (7.75 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 45 minutes | Elevation – 250 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Pitstone Hill Car Park is about a 1 hour, 20-minute drive from central London.
IVINGHOE BEACON WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Tring Station | Distance – 14.5-kilometre circuit (9 miles) | Time – 4 hours, 15 minutes | Elevation – 280 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Tring Station is a 50-minute train journey from London Euston Station.
02 – SEVEN SISTERS
This is one of the longest and most arduous of our favourite walks near London, but it is also the best. No other walk has such dramatic vistas delivering some of the finest scenery in the entire country. All this for less than a 90-minute train journey from central London.
The walk begins in Seaford and for the next 10 miles it rises and falls over towering white cliffs wedged between rolling rural farmland on one side and the English Channel on the other. With a blanket of green grass on top, the glow of the sea below, and the luminance of the cliffs blazing in front, the views are spellbinding.
There are plenty of iconic highlights along the way including Cuckmere Cottages, the Seven Sisters Cliffs and Beachy Head Lighthouse.
Most hikers attempt the 13.5-mile route from Seaford to Eastbourne, but in our opinion, it is much better (and shorter) to end at East Dean, an attractive old-world hamlet. Covering 11 miles with plenty of ups and downs it takes most of the day, but what a glorious day it is. All the details are on our Seven Sisters guide.
03 – HENLEY & HAMBLEDEN
Henley has held the Royal Regatta since 1839. Perched on the edge of the Thames River and under the flanks of the Chiltern Hills, it makes a great base for hiking. There are plenty of options, but this 9-mile walk is our favourite due to the sheer diversity.
Along the way the path heads through deep forest and along sweeping rivers; past rowers and boathouses; and through historic estates and cute cricket pitches.
Admire the grand architecture of Henley with its cafes and riverside pubs; and Hambleden with a picture-postcard church making it one of the most attractive hamlets in England.
Locals and hikers are all served by the excellent Stag and Huntsman pub which is perfectly positioned for a pint and a meal, but it’s a popular place so make sure you book ahead at weekends.
Henley & Hambleden Walk
HENLEY & HAMBLEDEN WALK BY CAR
Start – Mill End Car Park Hambleden | Distance – 14.5-kilometre circuit (9 miles) | Time – 4 hours, 15 minutes | Elevation – 180 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Mill End Car Park is a 1-hour, 25-minute drive from central London
HENLEY & HAMBLEDEN WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Henley Train Station | Distance – 15.5-kilometre circuit (9.6 miles) | Time – 4 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 180 metres (-/+) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Henley Station is a 1 hour, 15-minute train journey from London Paddington Station with a change at Twyford.
04 – ARUNDEL CASTLE WALK
The centrepiece to this excellent walk is the imposing Arundel Castle. Construction began in 1067 and it still retains many original features standing peerless over the South Downs National Park.
This walk is about 8 miles and begins by visiting the imposing cathedral and grand buildings of Arundel before heading into the landscaped gardens of the castle estate where old, gnarled trees and woolly sheep dot the grassy hills.
There’s a steady amount of up and down but the rewards are fine views of the River Arun winding its way back and forth across the valley floor.
The trail drops to the river and follows its right bank under a canopy of leaves to the quaint village of South Stoke with its 11th-century church and graveyard that is overflowing with daffodils in early spring. Now it’s just a matter of following the river back into Arundel. Don’t miss the Black Rabbit pub with tables set amongst the reedy banks of the Arun.
Combine this walk with visiting the castle or simply exploring Arundel and it makes for a great day out from London.
Arundel Castle Walk
ARUNDEL CASTLE WALK BY CAR
Start – Arundel Castle Long Stay Car Park | Distance – 11.75-kilometre circuit (7.25 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 200 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Arundel is a 2-hour drive from Central London
ARUNDEL CASTLE WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Arundel Train Station | Distance – 13.7-kilometre circuit (8.5 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 50 minutes | Elevation – 200 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Arundel Station is a 1 hour 30-minute train journey from London Victoria
05 – BOX HILL
Box Hill is a steeply-sided wooded area in the Surrey Hills just outside the M25. Despite the very well-maintained paths, walking here takes more effort than you might think with plenty of ups and downs to give the legs a good workout.
The National Trust owns the area and there are plenty of maps and a whole host of different walks to try from short and cheerful strolls to longer half-day hikes.
This 8 to 9-mile hike explores the entire area and is great for anyone who enjoys forest walks. On a sunny day, dappled light casts shadows on the path as views materialise in gaps between the trees. Keep an eye out for the Norman church in Mickleham.
This route climbs up and down Box Hill four or five times resulting in almost 500 metres of ascent and descent. After the rain, the paths can be extremely muddy and tricky to navigate. But come on a sunny warm day and stop at the pub in Mickleham or the National Trust café at the summit and all efforts will be well rewarded.
Box Hill Walk
BOX HILL HIKE BY CAR
Start – Box Hill Car Park Tadworth | Distance – 12.8-kilometre circuit (8 miles) | Time – 4 hours | Elevation – 400 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium to Challenging | Getting there – Box Hill Car Park is a 1 hour 15-minute drive from Central London
BOX HILL HIKE BY TRAIN
Start – Box Hill & Westhumble Train Station | Distance – 14.5-kilometre circuit (9 miles) | Time – 4 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 500 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium to Challenging | Getting there – Box Hill & Westhumble Train Station is a 50-minute train journey from London Waterloo
06 – ALONG THE CAM
Is there a more beautiful county town than Cambridge? Exquisite late-Gothic architecture with medieval stained-glass windows tower over immaculate streets. Cobbled lanes test the dexterity of students balancing a pile of books in one hand and an oat milk latte in the other.
The River Cam, lined with beautiful college greens invites punters to take to its gently flowing waters.
This walk combines the glorious views of Cambridge with a gentle stroll along flower-strewn meadows and the grassy banks of the river to the village of Grantchester. Half in town, half in the countryside the walk is a great mix of getting away from it all while also exploring one of the most beautiful university cities in the world.
There are plenty of great spots for refreshments too.
Grantchester has the Blue Ball Inn for a pint or the Orchard Tea Garden for something more sedate. The coffee at Hot Numbers in Cambridge is hard to beat.
The walk is almost entirely flat and at only about 3 hours, it’s also quite easy. Being less than 1 hour from London by train it can be comfortably incorporated into a weekend or on a day trip to Cambridge.
Along the Cam Walk
ALONG THE CAM WALK BY CAR
Start – Newnham Meadows Car Park Cambridge | Distance – 10.5-kilometre circuit (6.5 miles) | Time – 3 hours | Elevation – Negligible | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Cambridge is a 1 hour 30-minute drive from Central London
ALONG THE CAM WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Cambridge Train Station | Distance – 12.5-kilometre circuit (7.75 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – Negligible | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Cambridge Station is a 50-minute train journey from London Kings Cross
07 – RICHMOND PARK
The largest of London’s Royal Parks, Richmond Park was created by Charles I for hunting deer. Today, despite being consumed by the city, it still retains a wild, rugged feel.
Tucked within the sweeping grasslands are wild deer and stag, colourful plantations of flowers, hidden ponds, as well as architecturally interesting buildings like Pembroke Lodge and White Lodge.
From Henry’s Mound, Windsor Castle can be seen glimmering under the planes of Heathrow to the west. While to the east, the skyscrapers of the city loom above the trees.
But there’s more to these 8 miles of walking than just the park. Taking advantage of its proximity to the Thames, the path heads along the banks of the river, visiting Richmond town at one end and Ham House – a giant 17th-century pile peering over the water – at the other.
There are plenty of food vans and cafes in the park for refreshments and even more options in Richmond itself. Picnic spots are endless, however, if you fancy a bit of a treat don’t look past the cafe at Petersham Nurseries.
Richmond Park Walk
RICHMOND PARK WALK BY CAR
Start – Petersham Car Park in Richmond Park | Distance – 12.5-kilometre circuit (7.75 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 110 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Petersham Car Park is a 40-minute drive from central London
RICHMOND PARK WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Richmond Train & Tube Station | Distance – 13.75-kilometre circuit (8.5 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 50 minutes | Elevation 110 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Richmond Station is 20 minutes from London Waterloo Station on the overground train or 40 minutes from central London on the District Line
08 – COOMBE HILL
The Chiltern escarpment is a great place to hike, and this is another excellent walk near London that makes use of this rugged feature.
The walk winds its way up and down the escarpment passing the grand viewpoint of Coombe Hill (260 metres), the 15th-century church of Ellesborough, an ancient barrow and the iconic lone tree of Beacon Hill.
Just over halfway around it passes the striking gate and imposing facade of Chequers, a residence of the Prime Minister.
It’s a wonderfully diverse three-hour walk, spending about a third of the time in thick woodland, a third on ridge-top trails and another third in grassy fields.
If you arrive by car, try to be early at weekends as parking can get busy. If you come by train you need to add another 45 minutes to the walk to connect to Wendover Station.
There are no refreshments or toilets on this walk.
Coombe Hill Walk
COOMBE HILL WALK BY CAR
Start – Coombe Hill Car Park | Distance – 9.25-kilometre circuit (5.75 miles) | Time – 2 hours, 50 minutes | Elevation – 280 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy to Medium | Getting there – Coombe Hill Car Park is about 1 hour, 20 minutes’ drive from central London
COOMBE HILL WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Wendover Station | Distance – 12-kilometre circuit (7.5 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 40 minutes | Elevation – 370 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Medium | Getting there – Wendover Station is a 50-minute train journey from London Marylebone Station
09 – LEWES & FIRLE BEACON
This is a wonderful long walk along some of the finest ridges in the South Downs National Park. The walk begins in Lewes with its medieval streets, hilltop castle and tiny twittens (Sussex word for alleyway). It then heads up onto the chalk hills before dropping down to the charming village of Glynde.
Tracking along the valley floor it soon gets to West Firle where the Ram Inn (situated about halfway along the walk) comes at just the right time for a mid-hike bite. On a cold day its wooden interiors and toasty fire warm the cockles, whereas on a sunny day, its beer garden offers grand views up to the hills. There’s a range of tasty treats on the menu and plenty of ales to choose from.
Re-energised, there’s another climb back onto the ridge to reach Firle Beacon where views stretch in all directions. For the next hour and a half the path sticks to the summit of a grassy ridge and on a clear day the sea shimmers on the horizon. The route now drops to the town of Southease where trains run hourly back to Lewes (check times in advance).
The walk is 11 miles long and involves getting the train back from Southease to Lewes. Allow a good 6 to 7 hours including a break for lunch. It’s a great (but long) day out in the English countryside.
Lewes & Firle Beacon
LEWES & FIRLE BEACON WALK BY TRAIN & CAR
Start – Lewes | End – Southease Station to get the train back to Lewes | Distance – 17.75-kilometres (11 miles) | Time – 5 hours 15 minutes | Elevation – 450 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Challenging | Getting there – Lewes Train station is a 1-hour train journey from London Victoria or a 2-hour drive from Central London
10 – EPPING FOREST
Just inside the M25 in northeast London, Epping Forest is almost 6,000 acres of ancient woodland. Cutting a narrow green corridor in the urban landscape, it makes for an excellent family excursion and a peaceful getaway from the city.
Most of the walking is under a gentle swaying canopy of leaves, but periodically the vegetation parts to reveal small patches of heath or ponds that provide a home to a variety of wildlife. There are not many grand views but it’s gentle, easy, and lovely.
There are loads of routes to choose from. Many recommend the Oak Trail which is a mix of forest and the suburban area around Theydon Bois, but we have chosen the 7-mile walk which starts and ends at Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge near Chingford.
Stop halfway at the Kings Oak Pub for a pint and you’ll be in for a great half-day excursion near London.
Epping Forrest Walk
EPPING FOREST WALK BY CAR
Start – Barn Hoppitt, Mount Pleasant or Earls Path Car Park | Distance – 10.75-kilometre circuit (6.7 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 10 minutes | Elevation – 150 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – All car parks are about a 1-hour drive from central London
EPPING FOREST WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Chingford Train Station | Distance – 11.75-kilometre circuit (7.3 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 30 minutes | Elevation – 160 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Chingford Train Station is a 30-minute train journey from London Liverpool Street Station
11 – MARLOW CIRCULAR
In London, the Thames is an uninviting tumult of brown-muddy water. But as you head upstream, the surging tidal waters abate to be replaced by a gentle sweeping reed-fringed river. The section just upstream from Marlow is particularly lovely.
Leaving the smart market town with its attractive Georgian buildings, the trail proceeds along the riverbank with views across to the grand houses that line this sought-after section of river.
Keep an eye out for Bisham Abbey, where the England hockey, football and rugby teams often train.
The path then diverts inland, around a golf course with modern wooden sculptures, and up through forest into the Chiltern Hills, before descending back into Marlow. The entire walk takes just over three hours, is relatively flat (except for a short climb up into the hills) and has a stimulating mix of town, river, and woodland.
Ideally, come on a warm summer’s day and take a detour to Hurley Lock. Situated by the attractive village of the same name, it’s one of the best swimming spots on the Thames. Bring your swimming gear and picnic supplies to turn the walk into a great day out.
Marlow Circular Walk
MARLOW CIRCULAR WALK BY CAR
Start – Pound Lane in Marlow | Distance – 10.25-kilometre circuit (6.4 miles) | Time – 3 hours | Elevation – 90 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Pound Lane is a 1-hour drive from central London
MARLOW CIRCULAR WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Marlow Train Station | Distance – 11.5-kilometre circuit (7.2 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 20 minutes | Elevation – 100 metres (+/-) | Difficulty – Easy | Getting there – Marlow Station is just over a 1-hour train journey from London Paddington Station changing at Maidenhead
12 – ICONS OF LONDON BY THE THAMES WALK
This walk is so near London it’s smack in the middle of it, but it would be a mistake not to mention it. While we often hear the call of the green spaces and country views that surround the capital, this walk along the Thames River captures some of the city’s great sights in an easy and engaging day out.
Crisscrossing back and forth over the water, this 8-mile walk explores Battersea gardens and the Battersea Power Station, admires Tate Britain, bows before Westminster Abbey and skirts the Houses of Parliament before sauntering along the South Bank.
From here St Paul’s, the Shard and the City of London dominate the skyline beside the river.
After the icons of London, stop in at Borough Market to try some tasty morsels before the final leg of the walk passes the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
End at St Catherine’s Dock and either try a coffee at White Mulberries, a historic pint at Dickens Inn or a tasty tipple of wine at Trader’s Wine Bar, all perched on an attractive quay.
It’s one of the best ways to see so many of London’s main sights in one day.
London Thames Walk
LONDON THAMES WALK BY TRAIN
Start – Battersea Train & Tube Station | End – Tower Hill Tube Station | Distance – 12.75-kilometres (8 miles) | Time – 3 hours, 45 minutes | Elevation – Negligible | Difficulty – Easy
As London-based travel bloggers, we’re often exploring exotic destinations far from home, but there’s a wealth of great experiences to be had within the UK. Here are some of our favourite guides to our home country. For more see our Britain page.
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