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11 Amazing Hiking Trails And Hikes Near London 

 December 2, 2020

by Lucas

Living in London can feel a bit like a concrete jungle at time, but most people are unaware that open green plains and fresh country air is just a short train ride away.

Today we review some of the most popular (and most hidden!) day hikes near London – whether you’re just a beginner hiker or you hit the trails every weekend, we’ll definitely have something for you.

1. The Mole Gap Trail

Mole Gap, Dorking

Distance: ~10km
Estimated hiking time: 3 hours
Travel time to and from London: ~2 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Victoria) to Leatherhead station to start. The walk ends at Dorking, where you can ride back to London from Dorking station.
Map: Click here

This is one of those day hikes near London that is perfect for a weekend when the weather is good and you have a day free.

The hike takes you along the River Mole and the countryside around here is very peaceful and unassuming.

There are a ton of places to stop along the way – you’ll pass through Norbury Park, Thorncroft Manor and Vineyard, Swanworth, Chapel Lane and Chichester Road, the village of Westhumble and Denbies Wine Estate – making this the perfect walk for beginner hikers who may enjoy the odd snack and drink (yes, wine included!) along the way instead of a day of intense hiking through the wilderness.

If you’re just getting into hiking or looking for one of those short but fun day walks from London, The Mole Gap Trail is the perfect choice.

2. The Chess Valley Walk

best day hikes near london

Distance: ~17km
Estimated hiking time: 4 hours
Travel time to and from London: 45 minutes
How to start: Get to Rickmansworth station on the Metropolitan line to start! Chesham is on the same line for when you return home.
Map: Click here

This is one of the best options for hiking close to London – starting right on the Metropolitan line – but is just as pretty and scenic as many of the others on this list. The walk will take you through the beautiful Chiltern Hills, down the River Chess and through some classic English villages and landmarks.

The walk is clearly signposted so you can simply relax and follow the trail. Do keep your eye out though, as it’s easy to miss a turn after hours of walking.

Some things you’ll see along the route are Glen Chess at Loudwater, North Hill in Sarratt Bottom, Frogmore Meadow and the Chenies Manor in the village of Chenies. You’ll also pass through the village of Latimer, where you’ll see the Latimer Estate Hotel and some other beautiful cottages – perfect for the hiking photographer!

Once you finally reach Chesham, there’s a lot to wander through and sightsee there as well, so be sure to give yourself a bit of time at the end of the day for a bit of exploring before heading home.

3. Seven Sisters – Seaford to Eastbourne

DSC00466

Distance: 22km
Estimated hiking time: 4-5 hours
Travel time to and from London: ~3 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Victoria) to Seaford, then return from Eastbourne back to Victoria to get back.
Map: Click here

Around three hours from central London is the coastal walk from Seaford to Eastbourne, and in my opinion one of the best (and most popular) hikes near London.

One of the reasons is you follow the water pretty much the entire way. This means the hike is spent looking out over the water and simply following the English coastline along the English channel.

Along the way you should pass the Seven Sisters Country Park, Beachy Head and Eastbourne Pier – all perfect places to snap a few selfies, take a water break or even pick up lunch.

Depending on your walking speed, the hike should take you around 4-5 hours, including breaks. A good medium-difficulty hike, especially during the summer months.

4. Hastings Circular through Rock-A-Nore

The Cliffs of Rock a Nore

Distance: 9.5km
Estimated hiking time: 2.5 hours
Travel time to and from London: 3 hours
How to start: Get the train from Charring Cross to Hastings. It’s about 90 minutes each way, but worth it!
Map: Click here

This hike starts in Hastings Old Town in Sussex, and follows the coast at Rock-A-Nore before bringing you back to Hastings.

You’ll follow the Saxon Shore Way trail, which will follow the water to Hastings Country Park. Nature, wildlife, sandstone cliffs – what’s not to love!

From there you will continue to Covehurst Bay before venturing through some farmland, past High Wickham to Ecclesbourne Glen. Don’t forget to snap a photo at the waterfalls here!

Finally you will finish the circular back on the water’s edge to come back to Hastings.

It’s a beautiful short-ish, lots of ocean views, some medium difficulty clims – a hike that gives you a bit of everything.

5. Ockley to Leith Hill

Leith Hill Tower

Distance: 13km
Estimated hiking time: 3 hours
Travel time to and from London: ~2.5 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Victoria) to Ockley, the journey is around an hour.
Map: Click here

This walk outside London takes you from Ockley Station up to Leith Hill – the highest point in South England. You can simply start the walk by taking the public footpaths from Ockley Station and start heading west towards Ockley village.

As you pass through Leigh Hill Wood, you can follow Greensand Way all the way to the summit. There you can enjoy the views of London and the English Channel, plus Leith Tower which stands at the top. Climb the stairs to the top – it’s worth the view!

It’s a circular walk, so from the summit you will head down through the Wood and back around to Ockley. A short walk but easy to get to, and great for a day out in nature. If you’re looking for country walks near London – this is a pretty good pick.

6. Box Hill Circular Trail

Sunrise over Box hill, Surrey

Distance: 15km
Estimated hiking time: 4-5 hours
Travel time to and from London: 3 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Victoria or Waterloo) to Box Hill Park. You can also start the hike from Westhumble Station if you like.
Map: Click here

Quite a challenging hike, but a brilliant trail that won’t disappoint if you can handle it. It’s a very well-marked trail so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting lost – instead focus on keeping your legs loose and fresh so you make it back in good time!

You’ll open the hike by heading towards Lodge Hill, past the tower known as Broadwood’s Tower until the Whitehill carpark. Once you past Mickleham church you can stop for refreshments (and booze) at the Running Horses. The latter half of the hike will bring you to the open fields of Mickleham Gallops, past the Brockham Lime Works, over Dukes Meadow and finally back to Box Hill cafe.

The steep hills might get your legs whimpering a little, but the views at Box Hill are definitely worth it.

7. Hampton Court to Staines

Staines-upon-Thames, UK

Distance: 19km
Estimated hiking time: 3 hours
Travel time to and from London: ~1.5 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Waterloo) to Hampton.
Map: Click here

This hike is actually the starting point for the famous Thameside walk. This runs the full length of the River Thames all the way to its source at the Thames Barrier.

It’s one of the most popular options for hikes around London and will take you from Hampton Court Palace towards the small Surrey towns. You’ll pass by the Molesey Reservoirs and the Stain Hill Reservoirs, through the town of Sunbury, past the Anglers pub, Shepperton Lock, Chertsey, and finally onto Staines.

There’s also a little ferry crossing along the way which is a nice little photo moment.

8. Henley via Stonor – Chiltern Hills

Walking the Chiltern Hills by Pishill, Oxfordshire

Distance: ~22km
Estimated hiking time: 5 hours
Travel time from London: ~2 hours
How to start: Get the train from Paddington to Henly-on-Thames (change at Twyford).
Map: Click here

Henley is situated along the south of the Chiltern Hills – a beautiful mixed area of woodlands and valleys, with a spread of farmland as well – one of the best hikes near London if you want something challenging, but not too far away.

Most walkers like to stop for lunch at a charming called The Crown pub in the village of Pishill – so make sure you leave Paddington by around 9am if you want to make it there for meal time.

As for the walk itself, you’ll start up one side of the valley and then down the other. On the back half, you’ll pass through the village of Stonor, where you can stop for refreshments or head straight through.

There are also two shorter options for this walk – you can take the Stonor short cut and cut 3.1km off the hike, although you’ll miss the pub at Pishill. The second option is to take the country lanes from the Rainbow Inn in Middle Assendon, which will shorten the route to 14.4km. Perfect for winter!

9. Abingdon to Oxford

Abbey Meadows, Abingdon

Distance: 16km
Estimated hiking time: 4 hours
Travel time from London: ~2 hours
How to start: Get the train from Paddington to Didcot Parkway, then catch the X2 bus to get to Abingdon.
Map: Click here

This walk is also part of the Thames Path, linking the historical town of Abingdon with Oxford.

As the walk simply follows the river Thames it’s difficult to get lost, and at just under 16km it’s a healthy walk but not too crazy to pull off in a day – one of the better options for medium-distance London hikes

There’s also a little diversion that takes you to Iffley, which is great for a short break and a bite, and a few photo opps at the Iffley church.

You’ll also pass by lots of watering holes along the way before entering into Oxford, which is always worth taking a wander around too if you’ve never been before.

10. Berwick to Exceat Bridge

River Cuckmere at Exceat Bridge

Distance: ~10.5km
Estimated hiking time: 4 hours
Travel time from London: ~3 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Victoria) to Berwick. You’ll need to change in Polegate. From Exceat, catch a bus to Brighton or Eastbourne where you can train back to London.
Map: Click here

The Vanguard Way is over 100km long, but this little section of it is one to tackle if you don’t have the time (or guts) to take on the whole thing.

Starting in Berwick, which is a joy in itself (take a moment to admire the church if you have time), you’ll pass through many small English towns as you make your way along the Cuckmere River, up through Firston Forest, and then finally down to Exceat Bridge to finish.

It’s one of the more popular day hikes from London as it makes up the Vanguard Way, and is reasonably short too.

11. Southease Circular

Southease

Distance: ~8km
Estimated hiking time: 3 hours
Travel time from London: ~2 hours
How to start: Get the train from London (Victoria) to Southease. You will need to change at Brighton.
Map: Click here

This circular starts and finishes at Southease Station. You’ll head through a collection of small villages around East Sussex.

Starting with a crossing at the River Ouse, you’ll make your way to the little village of Rodmell. Next you’ll make your way to Monk’s House – the former home of Virginia Woolf. Visitor reception is inside the Woolf’s old garage, if you’re looking. Then it’s back to the trail until you come back to the River Ouse and into Southease.

If you’re looking a circular, this is a good one to add to your regular circuit for hiking near London – it’s very short and can be done in an afternoon.

Some tips before you head out!

Stay hydrated!

Even though there are usually places to refresh along the way, you should always assume there won’t be. Carry ample water with you and snacks as well.

Dress for the occasion

Good hiking gear is your best friend when heading out on a multi-hour hike. Hiking boots are gospel, but we also recommend wearing comfortable but quick drying socks to prevent blisters, and hiking leggings are our go-to for preventing chafing. The right gear will make your day so much more enjoyable!

If you’re shopping, we’ve reviewed the UK’s best hiking boots (men’s and women’s), best hiking socks, and our picks of the top hiking leggings as well.

Also pack something to stay warm – a good jacket or pair of thermals is always a good choice.

Take photos!

Almost every hike I’ve been on, I’ve regretted not taking more photos. People will be asking about the weekend and I’ll say, yep, let me show you….oh wait. I forgot to snap that. Remember, these are some of the best walks near London – take your time, take lots of photos, enjoy the sights. That’s why you’re there!

It’s about the journey

Hiking is a fantastic way to stay fit, so remember to enjoy yourself out there! Stop and take photos, do some sightseeing, be a tourist, eat some junk food. Walking for a whole day isn’t about the finish line, but all the fun you get to share along the way. See you on the trails!


Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

About the author 

Lucas

Lucas is the combat sports editor at The Fit Brit. He has been training in MMA for over 10 years, in several gyms in the UK and Thailand. He is currently based in Bangkok.


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