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3 London campsites in Zones 1 – 5

Blog titles - LONDON HIKER(2)

With help from Jade Attwood, we suggest three special places for a night under canvas.

Living in London, it really is hard to go back to basics. Surrounded by skyscrapers, living in busy streets, and with a non stop lifestyle, there is seldom a chance to really escape to nature (apart from the odd park of course).

For those who love camping, a long journey is usually necessary to find a spot to pitch up. With travel time included, camping trips out of the city usually mean taking some time off work to really enjoy your time.

But what if you didn’t have to go so far afield to have a picturesque night under canvas?

Here are three top class campsites, in zones 1-5 to get your fill of nature and really relax on your camping holiday.

1. Abbey Wood

Find out more:
Abbey Wood Campsite

Nestled in South East London, is the quaint Abbey Wood site. Within Zone 4, the site boasts a quick 35 trip by train from Abbey Wood station into central London.

For those that want to fully escape the hustle and bustle of central London, take in the sites around Greenwich. Full of quirky pubs and restaurants, Greenwich is a metropolis in itself, with a distinctly heritage feel.

A short walk from the site you’ll come across the National Maritime Museum, a option for those looking to explore some nautical history. Or take in the sun on a relaxing river cruise to Tower Bridge, Westminster, or even Kew, for a truly nature filled day out.

2. Lee Valley

Accessible from Ponders End (Zone 5) or Edmonton Green (Zone 4), lies Lee Valley Campsite in Edmonton. A highly modern site, with its own cinema and ice rink, it’s a haven that seldom needs to be left for the duration of your stay.

With everything on site you would need, this site is one which you can truly immerse yourself in, away from the throes of tourists in central London.

With beautiful cycle and walking riverside routes to sample, there will be plenty of opportunity to fully embrace the great outdoors, and entertainment in the evenings to make your stay even more enjoyable.

Perhaps you enjoy a spot of golf? The site even boasts its very own golf course, perfect for those who like to take their walks while enjoying their favourite sport.

3. Crystal Palace

Find out more:
Crystal Palace Campsite

Lastly, but by no means least, is the the Caravan Club’s Crystal Palace site (nearest station Crystal Palace, Zone 3). Perfect for those who want a country retreat but not feel completely isolated from the city, a quick trip on the number 3 bus will take you straight to Oxford Street, via Brixton and Trafalgar Square.

Situated right next the beautiful and expansive Crystal Palace park, once home to the palace itself, the pleasure gardens are perfect for a relaxed walk or an evening stroll. Crystal Palace is also home to many up and coming eateries, a whole new area to explore for enthusiastic foodies.

So there you have it, three options to escape the city and embark on your very own camping mini break.

Camping in your own tent is a great cost-cutting alternative to a expensive European city break, and takes nowhere near as much hassle. All that is left is to prepare everything you need, to make your trip as stress free as possible.

Aside from your tent and camping gear, it’s important to invest in some good quality tent insurance: for every camping eventuality.

All that is left is to grab your Oyster, hop on the tube, and escape the city (well almost!).


Jade Attwood is a travel and insurance content writer for The Camping and Caravanning Club, and adventurous Londoner. She who has written for a variety of travel blogs and websites.

Additional research and content added by Catherine Redfern of London Hiker.

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How a Richmond Ramble became something much more

Blog titles - LONDON HIKER(1)

Jean Straus explains how a simple ramble round her favourite London park grew into a annual fundraising event.

What began as an individual challenge for me as a fundraiser and hiker has turned into an annual event. Here’s my story.

Three years ago I was working at Action on Hearing Loss as a winner of the Vodafone World of Difference competition. Despite being retired for several years, I had jumped at the chance of some short-term paid work where I’d get to know the workings of a charity that looks after the interests of, among others, people like me, who lost my hearing (not completely) suddenly.

I was engaged to learn the ropes of a large charity, and during my few months there, I watched as colleagues signed up people to abseil down a tower, as someone swam the English channel, others ran the London Marathon and a few daring cyclists cycled up and down mountains in California.

As someone whose stamina boils down to typing 100 words per minute for a few minutes, I could only be asked to donate to rather than participate in such activities.

But I wanted to do something as well that would stretch but not destroy me.

I love walking. I love Richmond Park.

And over the years I’ve discovered it can be extremely satisfying simply to walk the perimeter of the park, which is 7.4 miles.

How about if I set myself the task of walking the perimeter twice?

The rest is history.

Friend Pauline joined me for the first lap; friends Christine and Anne came along for the second, and I managed to raise more than £1000.00.

HikeforHearingLossRichmondRambleJean Straus

Soon after, Action on Hearing Loss decided to approach the park to make this an official walk; I think the charity liked the idea, as have done families, and participants who were not used to being fit enough to take part in active charitable events.

Eighteen people came along to the second walk, including young children whose parents feared the walk would be too hard for them but were pleasantly surprised. Moreover, I think many contributions came in from people who could actually imagine that they could take part even if they were not free to do so on this occasion.

HikeforHEaringLossRichmondRambleH4H 2015

I was sure the possibility of a stop along the way to get an ice cream was a strong drawing point, along with the opportunity to view deer in the open, or to gaze out from the viewpoint over St Paul’s Cathedral, ten miles away, but actually feedback has been that people just enjoy the ramble and getting to meet new groups of people.

The third year brought in people who’d heard about it through twitter, the Action on Hearing Loss website, audiology clinics, even university billboards, and how rewarding it has been to see it grow from being one person’s walk to something shared in a community.

Last year the Mayor of Richmond agreed to come along, and we handed him a ribbon to cut after he made a short speech. Then off we went!

I’m looking forward to this year’s gallivant.

It would be great to be joined by new people and past participants. See you there, rain or shine!

HikeforHearingLossRichmondRambleH4H 2015 with Mayor

Jean Straus is a retired teacher of vulnerable pupils, who became involved with charity work when she lost much of her hearing in the last ten years. She now writes reviews for the Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID) Magazine, has served on a Steering Group to do with prioritising research questions to do with hearing loss, and she’s currently a CLAHRC fellow within the NHS, where she is looking to find ways to reduce the depression people often feel with losing their hearing. Jean regularly walks in her local park (Richmond) but has gone on treks on the southwest coast in Devon and Cornwall.

Ramble Round Richmond is Action on Hearing Loss’ annual sponsored walk around the Tamsin Trail of Richmond Park. Join Action on Hearing Loss for a 7.4 walk around the blissful park, soaking up the rare tranquillity that this area of London has to offer. This year the walk will be taking place during Deaf Awareness Week (2nd-8th May) and as one of the quietest places in London, where better to help Action on Hearing Loss celebrate and raise awareness for this hidden disability. The event is open to all and we would love to see as many families rambling together as possible. All walkers will be provided with a map and some information on the park. There will be rest points along the way and some light refreshments will be provided to all walkers. Click here for more information.

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Walking with the ancients

Walking with the ancients Burnham Beeches

To the west of London, in Buckinghamshire, lies an 540 acres of ancient woodland which is – intriguingly – managed and owned by the City of London, about 25 miles away.

It’s called Burnham Beeches, and was secured for the recreation of Londoners in 1880.

For over 130 years, Londoners and locals have been enjoying this beautiful, serene woodland teeming with natural wonders.

The area has been used for many films, including Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and the Princess Bride.

Here you’ll find gnarled, ancient trees…

…including the Druid’s Oak, reported to be “at least 800 years old”

“…the first thing you notice is the stillness. Crackling branches and crushed leaves underfoot are at times the only things that break that unreal silence, other times it is the whispering, the murmuring which builds in the deep dark places.”
– In The Chime Hours; Burnham Beeches The Whispering Woods

Its ancient connections have given the area a somewhat ‘mysterious’ reputation. Infamous conspiracy theorist David Icke claimed that Burnham Beeches was where his contact witnessed British Prime Minister Ted Heath shapeshift into a reptilian during a ritual in the early 1970s! [source]

The reserve is a haven for wildlife.

…Including a great variety of fungi:

…and of course, the pollard trees provide a home for many creatures, birds and insects:

Walking in Burnham Beeches

I can’t think that Burnham Beeches won’t suit everyone. It’s a brilliant place to come with dogs, kids, bikes, balls and extended families. Romantic couples can ooh and ahh at the water’s edge and snog behind the trees. Exhausted parents can tank up on caffeine and let their kids roam free. Ramblers can walk for hours in the 375 hectares and not get bored.”
– Muddy Stilettos: A beautiful walk in Burnham Beeches

Getting to Burnham Beeches

By public transport you can take a train from Marylebone to Beaconsfield OR from Paddington to Slough (both about 30 minutes). Then catch a bus to Farnham Common (this takes about 15 minutes from Beaconsfield, or 30 minutes from Slough).

By car, it’s about 50 minutes drive from central London, according to the AA journey planner.

Autumn is possibly the best time to visit, so I just about got in with time to spare. Lovely scrunchy beech leaves underfoot, with a scattering of nuts (and mud) beneath, form a matted carpet of brown. So long as you’ve not come in your best trainers, it’s a delight. The main access is from the east, a short walk from the long village of Farnham Common, where a large car park awaits more Bucks-style visitors.”
– Diamond Geezer, Beyond London 10 (South Bucks)

“We visited another new place today for a family walk – Burnham Beeches. What a great woods this is for families. There was so much to keep Little Miss A’s interest. I can’t believe we were out for 3 hours!”
– Mummy on a Budget: Family Walk at Burnham Beeches

If you’ve got an urge to hug a tree, this is the place to go:


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