6 Perfect Winter Walks in London’s Countryside
Penny Foot from the Central London Outdoor Group suggests 6 walks perfect for the colder months.
The clocks have gone back and the shorter days are with us again but don’t think of hibernating during the winter months. In and around Greater London are plenty of country walks of around 5 to 6 miles that are within Zone 6 or only just outside.
On these walks you can stop at warm pubs for lunch and a beer or cafes for tea and cakes and sometimes both are possible. If the weather suddenly turns bad, there are usually “bail out” options such as catching a bus to the nearest station.
Here are a few of my favourite short winter walks:
1. Banstead Downs, Oaks Park and Woodmansterne (6 miles)
This is a pleasant Autumn walk along Banstead Downs with 2 golf courses, a prison, Oaks Park, Woodmansterne village and a return to Banstead by field paths. The walk starts and finishes in Banstead station which is in zone 6.
You can have lunch in the cafe in Oaks Park or The Woodman pub in Woodmansterne.
2. Six Commons Walks (circular walk from Esher) (6 miles)
This walk includes Littleworth Common, Arbrook Common, Oxshott Heath, Esher Common, Fairmile Common, West End Common as well as Sandown Park Race Course and the Scilly Isles. Starts and finishes at Esher (just outside the Oyster zones, so you need a cheap day return)
You can have lunch in the Prince of Wales pub in West End.
3) Surrey Valleys and the Ladder of Salvation (6 miles)
A hilly circular walk from Caterham with a stop to visit the Norman church of St Peter and St Paul at Chaldon before continuing across Happy Valley, Coulsdon Common and around Kenley Aerodrome. The church contains the oldest known wall paintings in Britain, dating from the 12th century, portraying the tree of knowledge, the seven deadly sins and how souls must avoid them when climbing the Ladder of Salvation to reach heaven.
The walk starts at Caterham and finishes at Whyteleafe on the same line (both in Oyster zone 6)
You can stop for lunch at The Fox.
4) Dollis Valley Greenwalk (5 miles)
A linear walk from Totteridge & Whetstone tube to Hampstead Heath, mostly following the Dollis through parks and woods, including a nice view of the Mill Hill viaduct. The walk is either paved or else firm underfoot. There is no convenient pub for lunch but there is a café at the end.
The walk officially finishes at the Hampstead Heath Extension but you can easily continue to Golders Green station where you can stop at Cafe Persia for cakes and coffees plus Persian snacks and sandwiches if you are hungrier by then.
5) Lost Railways in North London walk (4.5 miles)
A walk from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace (AllyPally!) with two lost railways, overgrown platforms, disused stations, and abandoned Tunnels plus Highgate Woods.
It follows a green corridor on the course of old railway lines that once ran from Finsbury Park through Stroud Green, Crouch End, Highgate, and Muswell Hill to AllyPally.
This is London’s longest Local Nature Reserve complete with bats, squirrels, wildflowers, butterflies, and even the occasional muntjac deer.
You can have a late lunch at AllyPally.
6) Bentley Priory and 2 commons walk (6.5 miles)
This walk takes in the wonderful birch woods of Harrow Weald and Stanmore Commons plus Bentley Priory, the 18th century mansion where the Battle of Britain was masterminded, and its deer park
You can have lunch at either The Case Is Altered or The Hare.
There is also the possibility of coffee and cakes at the end at one of the many coffee shops and cafes in Stanmore.
This winter the Central London Outdoor Group (CLOG) is doing a series of Lazy Tuesday walks including the above plus a several more.
CLOG is a friendly outdoor activity group (run for members by members) for people living in and around London, happy to welcome anyone who enjoys walking, cycling, exploring our countryside and other outdoor activities. Most of our current members are in their late 30s to 50s. We typically have four to eight events every week. Non-members can attend up to three events to try out the group before joining.
[Some images copyright CLOG/Penny Foot, used with permission]
Want to hike more in the next 12 months – despite living in London?
Want to hike more in the next 12 months in London and around Britain?
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11 opportunities to help improve London’s Green Spaces
From making habitats for hedgehogs, footpath checking, river clearing, walk leading, gardening, photography or even admin; here are 11 volunteering opportunities to help maintain and improve London’s green spaces.
1. The London Wildlife Trust
“Whether you’re a nature novice or an ecology expert, everyone’s welcome”
2. The Conservation Volunteers
“We undertake a range of activities in both urban and rural areas, from planting trees and wild flower meadows, to building stiles, clearing footpaths or creating new food growing projects.”
3. Mayor of London’s Team London
“Our Team London website offers over 50,000 opportunities from 2,000 charities. To make it easier for Londoners to fit volunteering into their lives, Team London has partnered with Do-it to launch London’s first Speed Volunteering Service. Speed Volunteering roles are different from some of the more traditional volunteering roles you may have seen. They make it easier for people to give a little bit of time while still making a positive impact.”
4. South West London Environment Network
“Volunteering in the environmental field is very rewarding and enriching. You can learn news skills or gain knowledge as well as enjoying yourself without the pressure of a work setting. SWLEN, and around 100 environmental groups we support, could not function without volunteers. Many of these groups are ‘friends of parks’ or ‘environmental conservation’ groups and volunteering with them means spending time outdoors in the wonderful setting of the parks, green spaces and river corridors of leafy south west London.”
5. Hands on London
“Our goal at Hands On London is to bring a variety of volunteering opportunities for local charities and community partners to as many busy Londoners as possible, in a flexible and manageable way.”
6. Royal Parks Volunteering Scheme
“As the charity for London’s eight amazing Royal Parks, we rely on volunteers to help us raise funds for and support an exciting range of projects, from wildlife conservation and landscape restoration, to education, art and community sport. Every hour you give means so much to the people and wildlife that benefit from our projects, now and in the future. Whether you want to help wildlife, learn more about the Parks, meet new people or gain work experience through an office-based role, we’re likely to have a suitable volunteer opportunity for you.”
7. National Trust Volunteering Scheme
“It’s the skills, time and passion of our volunteers that make our places special. Whether you’re looking to help in the great outdoors, connect with the public or get up close and personal with our houses, we have something exciting happening near you.”
8. Groundwork London
“Groundwork is a national charity that works with communities across the UK supporting them to create better places, live and work in a greener, more sustainable way and to improve their economic prospects. Whether you’re looking to gain work experience and broaden your horizons, fulfil your passion for environmental issues or simply want to give a few hours a week to a cause that benefits your community, Groundwork can help you to do something special.”
9.The Ramblers / Inner London Ramblers
“Volunteers have always been at the heart of the Ramblers. They run path maintenance teams, champion walkers’ rights, and help thousands of people enjoy getting out and walking to help improve their health and wellbeing. They also help walkers connect with their community and with the Great British countryside.”
10. RSPB London
“However you can help, whether it’s face painting, digging, media work or photography, a little time from you can make a world of difference.”
11. Thames Path National Trails Volunteer Scheme
“Volunteers perform a vital role in helping to maintain the Thames Path through an ongoing programme of maintenance and improvements. Tasks include vegetation clearance, installation and repair of signs, gates and bridges and some workshop tasks. Led by staff from the National Trails team, tasks take place most weekdays and occasional weekends. All tools and training are provided and the tasks are a good way to meet like-minded people. Alternatively, volunteers can become ‘monitors’ by adopting a 2-3 mile section of a Trail, walking it once a month and reporting back any problems.”
Welcome! Do you live in London and love walking? I help frustrated London-based hikers to get out on the hills by providing inspiration, ideas, practical advice and encouragement. Satisfy your hill walking cravings! Read more here
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