5 of the best day hikes in and around London to do over summer

From rolling hills to steep climbs and secluded woodlands to epic skyline views, dig out your walking boots and reap the benefits of five of London’s most scenic walks this summer.

The mental and physical benefits of hiking and walking have never been more important. Whether it’s to lift our mood, give us time to make some mental space or to keep our bodies feeling strong, spending time in nature can be powerful. But you don’t have to drop serious cash on lengthy train journeys or flights to find decent hiking routes. In fact, those of us lucky enough to live in the capital have everything we need right here among London’s staggering 1,572 square kilometres of green space. 

For a long time, I thought of hiking as something you could only do on remote trails, surrounded by miles and miles of nothing. But I soon found myself traipsing through roads lined with towering skyscrapers and cobblestone alleyways – ending up in forests, marshes and rolling hills with magnificent views of the capital.

There’s nothing better than watching the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke from a distant viewpoint while simultaneously feeling like the only person in the world.  

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I’ve stumbled across meandering river walks, got lost in sprawling lush green parks and been offered a break from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life inside urban woodlands – all within London. So, if you’re keen to escape the concrete jungle but don’t want to risk train strikes or exorbitant ticket prices, let me introduce you to five of my favourite London day hikes. They prove that city life can be just as good as the mountains for your mind, body and soul. 

South-west London: RICHMOND PARK

Richmond is famously home to loads of deer, which you’ll no doubt hike past on your walk.

Covering 2,500 acres of land, Richmond Park is home to more hiking trails than you can count on two hands, allowing you to experience something new each time you visit. For beginners, you can’t go wrong with the picturesque 30-minute wander from the Cambrian Road entrance to Pen Ponds in the centre of the park, which makes you feel like you’re miles away from the big city.

Views: The best views of south-west London can be found at Sawyer Hill. Meanwhile, the Tamsin Walk perimeter gives you quaint city vibes without the overwhelming madness of city life. Keep your eyes peeled for deer.

Difficulty: Relatively easy flat terrain. 2/5.

Accessibility: Approximately a 1-mile walk from Richmond station’s National Rail or District Line. From the train station, you can also catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham. 

Find out more about Richmond Park.


Down by Croydon, you’ll find the Happy Valley’s rolling hills and perfect vistas.

An impressive 5.3km loop near Croydon gives you all the countryside feels. As some of the last remaining chalk land habitats in Greater London, Farthing Downs and Happy Valley are considered sites of special scientific interest (SSSI), which is reason enough to dig out the hiking boots for this expansive and historic nature trail.

Views: Miles of rolling hills, ancient woodlands, corn fields and valleys dotted with beautiful wildflowers. A real treat for the eyes.

Difficulty: Don’t let the name Happy Valley fool you; some steep climbs and descents on challenging paths may have your heart pumping when it’s muddy and wet. 4/5.

Accessibility: Coulsdon South rail station is one mile from the starting point. 

Find out more about Farthing Downs and Happy Valley.

East London: Epping forest

You wouldn’t think that the end of the Central line could offer such serene surroundings.

Despite being a popular destination for London city walkers, Epping Forest still rewards its hikers with tranquility, peace and luscious views. It boasts some 8,000 acres of green space, nestled at the east end of the Central Line. With pathways galore, the most satisfying trail is the Epping Forest Circular loop, which takes you through dense woodland, heath, streams, bogs and ponds before dropping you back off at your starting point for an all-encompassing, rigorous day-hike. Check out the All Trails app for a variety of different routes, ranging from quick pub walks (the King’s Oak Hotel in High Beech is a great pit-stop) to all-day treks.

Views: Pockets of the trail elevate enough for a sensational distant view of the London skyline amid the serenity of chirping birds. A complete pinch-me moment.

Difficulty: Relatively flat, with a few climbs here and there. However, this loop can be made lengthier and more demanding with plenty of intertwining trails. 3/5.

Accessibility: You can enter the main bit of the forest from Epping, Theydon Bois or Chingford stations (all are about a 10-minute walk away).  

Find out more about Epping Forest.


Take a trip down the Hammersmith and City line for beautifully serene views of the Thames

Hiking in London doesn’t always mean looking far and wide for pockets of greenery. You can find that same solitude and inspiration by walking along the river Thames. Technically, the trail is 184 miles (294 km) from the Cotswolds all the way out to Greenwich, but of course, you can join the track anywhere you like and walk for as long as you want. I recommend the section beginning at Hammersmith Bridge and ending at Chiswick Bridge (which takes around 50 minutes). Enjoy the walk during sunrise and sunset for the optimal London experience.

Views: You’ve got the Thames to your left and the traditional architecture of London’s 18th century houses and pubs to your right.

Difficulty: A leisurely stroll that can be done without walking boots. Nothing too strenuous. 1/5.

Accessibility: Hammersmith station is a 10-minute walk from the starting point. Mortlake Railway Station is 8 minutes from the end point, while the nearest underground, Chiswick, is 20 minutes away. 

Find out more about the Thames Path.

And slightly further out of the capital: Tring Park

Tring Park may be slightly outside of London but it offers excellent distant views of the city

OK, so Tring Park is actually just outside of London but if you want excellent views of the city and the countryside, it’s worth the trip. This short circular walk is one of the best places to unplug from the chaos of everyday life and reconnect with nature. The location is famous for bird watching, so if that’s your thing, get out your walking boots and come prepared with your binoculars. As one of the most relaxed trails on this list, this is a whole-family-and-the-dog kind of walk, which is best finished off with a pub lunch.

Views: The trail is surrounded by enchanting woodland with superb city visibility in one direction and the Chiltern Hills in the other.

Difficulty: A shorter walk that is doable for everyone. No experience is needed. 1/5.

Accessibility: Tring railway station is located two miles from the park and is serviced with trains from London Euston and Milton Keynes Central. There are also two bus stops near the Tring park entrance.  

Find out more about Tring Park.

Images: Getty/Jabeen Waheed

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