10 country walks less than an hour from central London

Yearning to escape the capital? Grab your hiking boots and go searching for bracing sea air, secret bluebell woods and trails steeped in history on one of these 10 country walks near London, are easily accessible from the capital. From chilled-out Sunday rambles with kids to epic all-day hikes, there’s a walk to suit everyone, all reached in less than an hour on public transport from London.

Ten country walks near London


BEST FOR ENERGETIC FAMILIES:
Saunderton via West Wycombe Circular
Distance: 6 miles
This is a fantastic walk for the curious. The starting point at Saunderton is just 50 minutes away from London by train and ambles over the hills of the Chilterns without ever being too difficult for littler legs. The trail runs through The National Trust’s Flagmore Wood and passes West Wycombe’s deeply creepy caves, and the route is dotted with countryside cafes and pubs for well-earned pitstops.

BEST FOR PUB LOVERS: Pluckley Circular, Kent
Distance: 7.3 miles
This charming circular walk is easily accessed from London, and despite its modest length is dotted with some fantastic alehouses and inns – perfect if your idea of a weekend ramble includes a pint or three. The route itself is fairytale-like, wandering through apple orchards and past ancient oaks.

BEST FOR EASY WALKING: Guildford to Chilworth
Distance: 3 miles
If you’re new to walking but want to escape the hustle and bustle of London all the same, this relaxed walk through the Surrey countryside will up your quota of fresh air without knackering your legs too much. The route winds through lush meadows and dappled woods for three miles each way, with lovely views over heathland from St Martha’s Knoll on the North Downs. 

BEST FOR LITERATURE FANS: Alton Circular, Hampshire
Distance: 12.7 miles
Hey Jane Austen fan! You’ll love this long, rambling walk through the woods and pastures of Hampshire, Austen’s one-time stomping grounds. Pass the author’s old home, Chawton House, which is now a lovely little miseum. Plentiful pubs and cafes along the route mean you can make this walk into a long summer’s day out. 

10 country walks near London

BEST FOR CHILTERN STROLLS: Henley via Stonor Circular, Oxfordshire
Distance: 13.8 miles
Walk along the edge of the Chiltern Hills on this pretty circular trail, stopping off to explore the glorious gardens of Stonor Park manor house and finishing a long day’s hike in Henley, easily accessed from Paddington, for a cream tea. 

BEST FOR SEA AIR: Seaford to Eastbourne
Distance: 13.6 miles
Feeling desperate a proper bracing seaside walk that’ll put hairs on your chest? This long coastal walk is proper trek – expect to take seven hours to hike this beautiful slice of the Sussex coast, past the white chalk cliffs known as the Seven Sisters and two tall lighthouses, and ending up at the pretty pier of Eastbourne (where you can replenish all the calories you’ve burned with proper fish and chips). 

10 country walks near London

BEST FOR LEAF PEEPING IN AUTUMN: Hurst Green to Oxted
Distance: 12.1 miles
Hurst Green to Oxted runs through Kent and Surrey’s hills and wooded groves, which are wonderful when decked out in all their gorgeous autumnal hues. The start is only 40 minutes from Victoria station, too, so it’s a doddle to get to.

BEST FOR FLEXIBILITY: Lewes via West Firle Circular
Distance: 14.5 miles
Really stretch your legs on this long all-day walk through the Sussex countryside, which has also been split up into three shorter sections you could walk separately. From Lewes Castle hike a section of the South Downs Way with views towards the sea to reach West Firle, then cut through a peaceful valley back to the starting point. 

BEST FOR SPRING FLOWERS AND CHILDREN’S BOOK LOVERS: My Great Missenden walk for Countryfile
Distance: 4 miles
Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl once lived and worked in rambling Gipsy House, on the edge of the sleepy Chilterns village of Great Missenden, and when stumped for inspiration he would walk in nearby Angling Spring and Hobshill woods. The gentle four mile ramble I mapped out for BBC Countryfile Magazine through the bluebell woods he loved (and where he came up with the idea for Fantastic Mr Fox) is the perfect relaxed afternoon ramble. 

BEST FOR SUNDAY AFTERNOONS: The Park Circular Walk at Ankerwycke
Distance: 1 mile
Great bus connections make this short walk around Runnymede, the ancient site where the Magna Carta was signed, perfect for a quick escape on Sunday afternoon, as you won’t struggle to get home for tea. This chilled-out circuit is less than a mile long but it packs in meadows, cows, an ancient priory and the 2,500 year-old Ankerwyke yew tree, and is lovely for very small children or anyone who is differently abled, but you can always extend it by following the footpath that runs from here along the River Thames. 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Josie
    January 16, 2013 / 2:38 pm

    I did the Pluckley Circular last autumn and it was beautiful. Lots of wide open space and great for chasing sheep too. Not that I did. 😉

  2. dann
    October 25, 2014 / 9:36 am

    Love the list but be great if you gave some links and detail around where to start with walks 🙂

  3. sian
    Author
    October 26, 2014 / 7:01 pm

    I’ve been meaning to update this properly for ages! I’ll make it top of the to do list!

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