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Hiking a ring of greenspaces around the capital — London LOOP

Troy Mariyanayagam

Hiking a ring of greenspaces around the capital — London LOOP

Hiking Collection by Kit P

14

Tours

64:24 h

153 mi

6,250 ft

When you think of London, you might imagine skyscrapers, bridges and Big Ben. An abundance of green spaces might not be your first thought but the capital is actually packed with them. In fact, London has around 3,000 parks. The London LOOP (London Outer Orbital Path) is a walking trail that makes the most of the city’s green perimeter.

At 150 miles long (240 km), the LOOP takes you to commons, heaths, woodlands, riverbanks and hilltops. It shows you aspects of London you may never have seen before and emphasises just how green and nature-filled the city and its outer reaches are.

The path begins in Erith and ends in Coldharbour, which lies opposite on the northern bank of the Thames. However, it is, of course, a loop, so you can begin anywhere along it and hike in either direction. There are also several official links into the city or to other named trails like the Capital Ring (which are not listed in this Collection). In addition, there are plenty of train stations on or close to the path, so you can join and leave it very easily. Bus routes are also excellent and numerous. As a result, it’s a fantastic adventure whether you’ve got a day or a month.

The route is a wonderful way to explore London’s lesser-known places and was devised by a group of representatives from each one of the city’s boroughs. You can walk it at any time of year, and it has different personalities in every season. From moated manors and Tudor buildings to city panoramas and salt marshes, it’s a comprehensive adventure through nature, history and the multi-faceted personality of this great capital.

Thanks to its proximity to the city’s outskirts, you’re never far from a supermarket, a pub or good accommodation. Waterproofs, comfortable hiking shoes and a bottle of water are the main things you need to walk this route. The terrain is mixed, from paved foot and cycle paths to field footpaths, but you’ll seldom find anything steep and never anything too challenging. In winter, however, some forest paths in particular may be very muddy.

To reach the start in Erith, you can simply catch the train to the town and walk to the Thames. At the end in Coldharbour, you can hike back to Rainham for the train or head to the station at Purfleet – they’re equidistant. Realistically though, you’ll likely be using trains or buses to come and go from the route, and those stations are mentioned in the Tour descriptions.

No matter how much or how little of the LOOP you walk, you’ll be treated to London’s beautiful, secluded green spaces where there’s always something new to discover. Enjoy!

For the Capital Ring Collection, head here: komoot.com/collection/896741

On The Map

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Full route — London LOOP

153 mi

6,250 ft

6,275 ft

Last updated: November 2, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Erith to Bexley — London LOOP

    Intermediate
    03:32
    8.58 mi
    2.4 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This first stage of the LOOP is delightful, flat and watery. With marshes and rivers, it’s a rather relaxing way to begin this stunning perimeter walk of London’s greenspaces. At only 8.6 miles long (14 km), it doesn’t present any challenges and is ideal for every ability.

    

    The LOOP begins at Erith station

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:17
    10.1 mi
    2.4 mph
    525 ft
    225 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is 10 miles (16 km) and begins flat before gently ascending for the rest. It encompasses meadows, woodlands, riverbanks and nature reserves, making it a rather blissful hike.

    

    Begin at Bexley train station and head south west across the fields to cross the River Cray and follow its southern

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:40
    10.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    725 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This 11-mi (17 km) stage is undulating which means you can enjoy some fantastic viewpoints and a constantly changing landscape. It begins on the outskirts of Orpington and meanders through the countryside to Selsdon.

    

    Begin in Farnborough, a small area on the south-western edge of Orpington. The trail

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:17
    9.79 mi
    2.3 mph
    675 ft
    775 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The hilliest stage of the adventure so far, this walk is 10 miles (16 km) long with a couple of steeper sections. Downs, woods and views make up this stage and it emphasises just how easy it is to move along London’s perimeter almost entirely by linking greenspaces.

    

    Begin on the edge of Selsdon and ascend

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    06:13
    14.8 mi
    2.4 mph
    500 ft
    750 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Downs, meadows and rivers sum up this gorgeous, 14-mile (22.5km) stage. It’s one of the longer walks in the Collection but the second half is flat, so it shouldn’t be too challenging. Around halfway, you pick up the Hogsmill River and more or less follow it all the way to Kingston on Thames, a wonderful

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:14
    10.4 mi
    2.5 mph
    125 ft
    100 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is pancake-flat and 10 miles (16 km) long, making it a great, relaxing hike. It has a magnificent beginning in Bushy Park and then leads you along the River Crane in the second half to finish on the edge of Heathrow Airport.

    

    Start in Kingston and walk west along the grand Kingston Bridge

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:06
    10.00 mi
    2.4 mph
    175 ft
    125 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    If the previous stage wasn’t watery enough for you, this one certainly will be. The hike is 10 miles (16 km) and utterly flat again, following first the River Crane and then the Grand Union Canal to Colne Valley Regional Park. There, you walk alongside the River Colne to end in Uxbridge.

    

    Begin in Hatton

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:35
    11.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    400 ft
    275 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is 11 miles long (18 km) and starts off delightfully flat as it meanders alongside the Grand Union Canal past the string of lakes in Colne Valley Regional Park. In the second half, it leaves the waterside and heads up into the low hills around Bishop’s Wood Country Park to finish on the outskirts

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:02
    11.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    675 ft
    600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This undulating stage is 12 miles (19 km) and leads you east away from Watford and across pretty commons to Borehamwood. Woodlands, viewpoints, fields and history are the main features of this walk.

    

    Begin on the outskirts of Northwood and head south east across the playing fields before walking south

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:17
    9.99 mi
    2.3 mph
    600 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This 10-mile (16 km) stage undulates through the patchwork of greenspaces between Borehamwood and Hadley. It takes in a section of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk, a wonderfully peaceful trail through wildlife habitats around Barnet.

    

    Begin by Borehamwood train station and follow Deaconshill Road south before

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:47
    11.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This 11-mile (17 km) stage is fantastically rural as it leads you over the top of London. Country parks, woodlands, fields and historical places make this stage a delight. Enfield Chase and Trent Country Park are particular highlights on this beautiful route.

    

    Begin in Hadley and follow the LOOP to Monken

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:40
    10.9 mi
    2.3 mph
    725 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Gentle hills, historic architecture and the grandeur of Epping Forest make this 11-mile (17 km) stage a lovely one. It’s another stage that emphasises no matter how built-up an area is, there’s always an abundance of greenspaces, so much so that you barely walk any streets at all.

    

    Begin at Enfield Lock

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    03:53
    9.16 mi
    2.4 mph
    400 ft
    500 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Linking together country parks and open greenspaces, this 11-mile (17 km) hike feels like it’s a far cry from the nearby capital. This stage is undulating with nothing challenging. It passes through small villages and ends just south of Harold Wood, a neighbourhood in Romford.

    

    Begin in Chigwell Row and

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:52
    14.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    250 ft
    350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage of the LOOP is almost entirely flat, making its 14-mile (23 km) length very manageable. Like many previous stages, it has a watery theme, and follows the Ingrebourne River more or less all the way to the Thames.

    

    Begin at Harold Wood train station and hike along the river to Hall Lane

    by Kit P

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    14
  • Distance
    153 mi
  • Duration
    64:24 h
  • Elevation
    6,250 ft

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