I may be obsessed with time spent in the great outdoors but the reality is that I spend most of my days living and working in a city, so Victorinox challenged me to share my favourite urban sanctuaries. These are perfect places to find five minutes of peace in London and Bristol.
URBAN SANCTUARIES In London
Christchurch Greyfriars by St Pauls: There’s something mesmerising about the pretty old stone ruins of this church, surrounded as they are by the steel and chrome of the City of London. A place of worship has stood here since the 13th century, and today you’ll find a rose garden lined with benches, the perfect place to escape from the bustle of London’s heart.
Hampstead Ladies’ Ponds: Shake off the London smog with a dip in the cool waters of the heath’s much-loved ladies pond, a lilypad-fringed oasis hidden from view by tall trees. Only women are allowed into this female haven, and in the summer it’s full of swimmers and sunbathers escaping from the heat of the city.
Little Venice: My favourite place to walk in London, the canalside paths of Little Venice are peaceful, shady and green and I love to look at all the different mini gardens created by the owners of the brightly-painted canal boats moored here.
URBAN SANCTUARIES In Bristol
Underfall Yard: Walk the 5k loop around Bristol Harbour and you’ll come to this wonderful corner where there are boatbuilders at work, the air smells of fresh wood shavings and varnish and you can sit under strings of lights by the cafe of the same name and watch ships sail past into Bristol.
Swineford, River Avon: My favourite place for a wild swim when I’m in Bristol. Cycle (50 min along the Bristol-Bath cycle path) or drive (20 min) to Swineford, walk through the fields and you’ll come to a little pontoon you can jump off into the river for a swim or just float gently downstream. Heaven.
Ashton Court: When I need a bit of fresh air I love to go for a run around the forest trails of this sprawling country estate and deer park. It may be just two miles from the centre of the city but its acres of woodland are full of snaking mountain bike routes that will make you feel miles away from the crowds.
Urban adventures with Victorinox
I’ve been carting my kit around in my gorgeous Victorinox Deluxe Duffel, £120, which will take my laptop and work essentials during the day and my swim kit for evening escapes out of the city. The Victorinox I.N.O.X V watch, £439, is perfect for earing everywhere from work meetings to walks to wild swims, too – it’s as smart as it is tough, and is waterproof to 200m. I always have my handy, classic Swiss Army Knife, from £17, in my pocket for foraging and gardening jobs, and if I’m packing a bag for a weekend city break I swear by my Spectra 2.0 cabin bag, £380, which is durable, lockable and has pockets for all your paperwork as well as a big main compartment for your adventure kit – don’t forget to pack hiking boots, sunscreen and your swimsuit!