You may not have thought of London as a place for hiking, but it has several waymarked walking routes. There is something to suit everyone – whether it is a leisurely ramble, a long distance walk, or a route for cyclists as well as walkers. I asked four travel bloggers to come up with their recommendations for the best walks in London: between them there is a massive choice of green space, history and cultural attractions.
The Jubilee Greenway
Caroline Keysor of CK Travels writes about the Jubilee Greenway
The Jubilee Greenway is a huge walking and cycling route in London that was completed in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games. The circular inner London route is 60km long (37 miles) with each kilometre representing one year of the Queen’s 60 year reign, and it celebrates all the best bits of London. The 60km is divided into 10 separate sections with the shortest at 3.5 km, and the longest at around 10 km.
The route takes you past all of the capital’s major Olympic Games venues, plus many visitor attractions, historic places, royal parks and open spaces and canal waterways. The route makes use of existing walking and cycling routes and joins them up together to create a super route. Although you can start and finish the walk anywhere, it officially begins at Buckingham Palace and then heads up through parks such as Hyde Park, Green Park and Kensington Gardens, before following the Regents Canal through Camden. Next you will connect to East London through Victoria Park, before reaching Docklands and Greenwich, then back to the start via the Thames Path.
The Jubilee Greenway is waymarked by 542 distinctive glass pavement slabs. You could choose a section of the route to walk, or follow the whole trail over a few days.
The Diana Princess Of Wales Memorial Walk
This is a recommendation from Sophie Clapton of We Dream of Travel.
The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk takes you through four of London’s most beautiful royal parks: St James’ Park, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. This 11 km (7 mile) trail was dedicated to Princess Diana in 2000, to celebrate her love of the outdoors. There are 90 ornate plaques of a rose emblem set into the ground along the walk to mark the way. The plaques also have inscriptions of nearby landmarks for the information of visitors.
The walk creates a figure of eight loop and can be started at any point along it. However, perhaps the best starting point is Hyde Park Corner. From here you can head through Green Park to Queen Victoria Memorial. Take in the splendour of Buckingham Palace before continuing through to St James’ Park, keeping your eyes peeled for the six resident pelicans. You can even see them being fed daily between 2:30-3pm next to Duck Island Cottage. After looping around the park, make your way back along The Mall, one of the most famous streets in London, through Green Park back to Hyde Park corner.
Now for the longer loop… Head through the Rose Garden in Hyde Park and along the south of the Serpentine towards the Albert Memorial. The walk continues along Broad Walk to the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. From Kensington Gardens, continue to the Italian Gardens, then follow the path around the northern bank of the Serpentine. Finally, continue past the Old Police House and Four Winds Fountain back to Hyde Park Corner. If visiting between April and October, you can relax your legs and take a boat out on the Serpentine. Or pack a picnic and take a break in one of the parks.
The Tamsin Trail
Darek of Darekandgosia.com tells us about the Tamsin Trail in Richmond Park.
London has many amazing walking trails, and one of the best is called the Tamsin Trail – a circular walk around Richmond Park. The park itself is located near Richmond, just at the end of District line, making it a perfect spot for a day trip from central London. You can also drive, and park in one of the car parks inside the park.
The walk is just over 11 km (7 miles) long, and it usually takes around 3-4 hours to complete. The time will mainly depend on your speed and how often you stop to admire the wildlife – with deer and parakeets being the main attractions!
There are a few cafés around the trail, but they can be busy during summer weekends. It is recommended to take your own lunch so you can have a picnic during your walk. The Tamsin Trail is very easy and it is perfect as a day trip for the whole family.
The Line Sculpture Trail
This is another one from Caroline Keysor of CK Travels.
The Line Sculpture Trail is London’s first dedicated public art walk and the name actually derives from the fact that it follows the Greenwich Meridian line. The 8km (5 mile) route runs along the waterways and docks in east London between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford and the 02 in Greenwich, and it includes taking the Emirates Air Line cable car between Royal Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula.
There are several outdoor modern and contemporary art sculptures to be discovered along the way, from distinguished artists including Damien Hirst, Antony Gormley and Martin Creed. Some of the artworks are temporary and change over every year but others, such as Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit Accor (unveiled as part of the 2012 Olympics) and Carsten Höller’s The Slide, are permanent.
The route can be started at either Stratford or Greenwich, and the best stations to reach the trail are North Greenwich London underground or Pudding Mill Lane DLR. The walk is three hours long so can easily be completed in half a day, but visitors should note that the route isn’t that well signposted so you may need to rely on google maps to help navigate the trail or download a map from the official website.
Camden to Little Venice walk
Rose Munday of Where Goes Rose? recommends the Camden to Little Venice walk.
A peaceful London walk that will make you feel as if you’ve escaped the city is the Camden to Little Venice towpath walk along the canal. This walk takes just under an hour from start to finish and is perfect for sunny days in London. The route travels past the back of London Zoo where you can glimpse animals without the crowds, then journeys through areas of impressive houses (that almost resemble mansions) and much more modest canal boats that whole communities call home. Many of these colourful barges have their own miniature gardens and sun decks.
As you get closer to Paddington, you’ll experience the lovely vibe of Little Venice, as well as some quirky canal boat cafés where you can stop for a rest break. Many of them, like Darcie & May Green, serve hipster brunch on the boat, while Waterside Café serves tea and cake.
The Camden to Little Venice Walk can also be reversed. In this case, start at Warwick Avenue tube station and finish in Camden where you can reward yourself with street food at KERB market or stop for a G&T at one of the many river bars in Camden. Whichever way round you enjoy the walk, it’s a great public route that allows you to see a different side to London and escape the tourist trail.
The Thames Path
The final recommendation is a route I have walked myself – the Thames Path. This is a mega route through London (and beyond), taking in both the north and south banks of the River Thames. The walk is well waymarked and easy to follow, taking in an enormous variety of history, riverside landscape and architecture old and new. You will find famous landmarks, sculptures and hidden nature reserves, and you will never be short of places to eat and drink along the way.
Do you have any favourite walks in London not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments below.