Living in London can become overwhelming over time; something from which we need to escape every now and then. And if you find yourself craving countryside, pining trees and venerating villages, this Collection is your ticket out for the weekend.
The hikes in Dedham Vale, Cambridge and Alton will afford you the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of giants, including Charles Darwin, Sir David Attenborough, Emma Thompson and Stephen Hawking. You will see the sights that inspired Jane Austen to write Pride and Prejudice, visit the tearoom that poet Rupert Brooke lodged in—drinking tea as he awaited visits from E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf by boat— and walk amid the landscapes that inspired John Constable to create his quintessentially British paintings.
The strolls around Saunderton, Ashridge and Runnymede will take you back in time hundreds of years to some truly groundbreaking periods in British history. You will step foot where the document that preceded all written law was signed, stumble across World War II installations and secret intelligence bases and find the opportunity for quiet contemplation in beautiful memorials.
If you are feeling adventurous, the ups-and-downs of the Box Hill hike will get your heart pumping. You will be rewarded with beautiful views of southern England and an overwhelming feeling of achievement as you arrive back in London.
All of these hikes have been designed to start and end at train stations that are easily accessible from London. Most will take less than an hour of travel to escape the daily grind and you will find relevant advice in the route descriptions.
For train times and prices, visit: thetrainline.com.
For information about Transport for London, visit: tfl.gov.uk
With its large selection of varied walks, long bike rides and breathtaking views, Box Hill in Surrey is a a perfect location for your London escape.
After arriving at Box Hill train station, an easy ride from London, the loop starts with a fun-fulled walk across a set of stepping stones across the River Mole. You will then begin a challenging but rewarding climb up to Donkey Green and visitors center, a perfect spot for a picnic.
Following a quick pit-stop to grab snacks, water and to use the facilities, you then head to the top of Box Hill for some incredible views across the lush Surrey Landscape.
Next you will dip down into Juniper Bottom, known charmingly as 'Happy Valley' with a long walk down a wide and relaxing bridlepath before your second climb of the hike. After some more rewarding views and a magical abandoned tower, you will swing back past the cafe and visitors center before a steep climb down some stairs and back the train station for your trip back to London.
There are multiple trains an hour leaving from both London Waterloo and London Victoria. A ticket will cost approximately £9.50 if you book in advance and the journey should take just under an hour.
The Ashridge estate is steeped in history; from Iron Age farms to the famous landscape gardener Capability Brown. This walk will take you on a loop from Tring Station, a well-connected train station with hourly trains from London.
On this route, you will be rewarded with magnificent views over the rolling chalk hills; chocolate-box villages nestled in the folds of this timeless English countryside
After a steady climb to the Ivinghoe Beacon, the views of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire will take your breath away. A perfect place for a spot to relax, you will feel the breeze blow away the stresses of the city.
From there, you stumble across the Bridgewater Monument, a towering granite column dedicated to 'the father of inland navigation'. On a clear day, you can over 30 miles across the surrounding countryside with views as far as Canary Wharf in central London.
To finish this delightful route, you can saunter through the picture-postcard village of Aldbury. Famous for its appearances in The Dirty Dozen and Bridget Jone's Diary, it has also featured in British gems such as Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse and The Avengers.
The train from London to Tring runs multiple times an hour from London Euston, takes around 35 minutes and should cost around £17 if you book in advance.
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Dedham Vale is famous for being John Constable's muse. The naturalistic landscape painter grew up around here and as you walk through the valley, you feel as though you are walking through each one of his paintings. It is easy to imagine him as a young lad walking these same paths and getting inspiration for his quintessentially British landscapes.
The walk will take you along the beautiful River Stour and straight past Willy's Cottage, which features in Constable's best-known painting 'The Hay Wain'. As you admire this beautiful Grade I-listed cottage in its picturesque setting, the sound of the river flowing gently by, let your mind drift back to 1821 when Constable finished the last strokes of his masterpiece.
From there, you head towards East Bergholt to see a fine example of a 700-year-old church; standing proud and beautiful today as the day it was built. To finish, you swing back to the river to rest your legs, have a cup of tea and watch the river flow, much as Constable would have done almost two centuries ago. To complete the loop, stroll back Manningtree for your train home.
The train from London takes just over an hour from Liverpool St. to Manningtree and will cost you just under £30 for the return. Make sure you book in advance.
This walk starts in Cambridge, a city famous for its stunning university resplendent with cyclists in capes. You will walk along a river overflowing with punts and rowboats vying for space before heading out of the city and into the Cambridgeshire countryside.
There are plenty of lush spots along Skater's Meadow to stop for a picnic as you dip your feet in the refreshing River Cam, watching the local students punt past on their way to Grantchester following in the footsteps of giants.
As you get into Grantchester, the halfway point of this walk, take some time to pop into The Orchard for an remarkably English afternoon tea and take in the literary atmosphere. The famous poet Rupert Brooke - once described as the "the handsomest young man in England” by Yeats - lodged here in his early twenties, commuting to Cambridge University by canoe.
Finally, you'll meander back along the river the way you came, experiencing the same sights from a new angle and in a new light. You'll finish up in Cambridge city center with plenty of time left to explore the beautiful colleges, independent cafes and luxurious restaurants the city has to offer.
The train from London departs from King's Cross, takes around an hour and should cost around £25 for a return if you book in advance.
Hampshire is a county known for its literary connections from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens. Inspired by the lush verdant landscape and postcard villages, it's easy to understand how they wrote with the beauty you find in their novels.
This walk is your opportunity to tread in their footsteps, see the sights that they saw and hopefully, find some inspiration yourself.
You'll start in the market town on Alton, a village so old that it was recorded in the Domesday Survey in 1086. You'll head out south and immediately be rewarded with incredible views across the rolling hills. After King John's Wood, the site of an old hillfort, you'll head into Selbourne.
Home of naturalist and ornithologist, Gilbert White, Selbourne is a picturesque Hampshire village. If you have time, take a moment to explore the ground of Gilbert White's house. It has been painstakingly restored using the techniques he pioneered to create a wonderful living memorial for the young naturalist. If you head inside you can also learn about the Oates brothers. Lawrence, the more famous of the two was on the legendary Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole with Scott where he sadly lost his life.
Coming out of Selbourne bring you to the most famous and photogenic part of the walk, the Zig-Zig path. While not exactly mountainous, it's a strenuous and steep climb up with the reward of a birdseye view back down onto Selbourne from the top.
From here you'll walk along the hilltops for a while, taking in the 360-degree views before heading back down and into the village of Chawton. Here you'll see Chawton House, owned by Edward Austen but visited many times by Jane Austen, author of Pride and Prejudice. The village of Chawton and the surrounding natural beauty inspired her writing greatly and it's pretty clear why!
Finally, you'll head back into Alton for your train back to London. This is a long walk, but with the train from London taking only an hour, you'll have plenty of time to do it in. You can expect a return ticket to cost around £30 if you book in advance.
This walk takes you through the beautiful chalk landscape of the Chiltern Hills. Designated as an area of natural beauty, this means you will be rewarded with seemingly endless views of rolling hills, lush valleys, and quaint villages. As you walk you'll constantly encounter jewels from history, from Victorian mausoleums to debaucherous caves used as a meeting place for a secretive pagan society.
You'll start out in Saunderton, a village first recorded in 1086 during the Domesday Survey before heading south into the hills. As you head up your first big hill, look back for a few over the Bradenham valley. This area is rife with military history and you should be able to see RAF Wycombe in the distance, the base of the famous Bomber Command during the Second World War. There are also military pillboxes and Cold War bunkers scattered around so keep your eyes peeled.
After passing Hughenden House, used as a secret intelligence base during the war, you'll then head down into High Wycombe, a cute market town with a market that has been running since the middle ages. As you climb back up out of High Wycombe, you'll come across one of the more esoteric destinations of the hike, the Hellfire Caves. These were excavated as a meeting place for a debaucherous and exclusive club in the 1700s and were used for mock pagan rituals, heavy drinking and more best left to your imagination.
After a bit more of a climb (we did mention the Chiltern 'Hills'), you'll come across an unusual and somber monument for the dead in Dashwood Mausoleum. Take some time to sit quietly here, if only for a rest.
Finally, you'll head back into Saunderton to complete the hike and await your train back to London. The journey should cost between £20 and £30 if you book in advance. There are two trains an hour leaving from London Marylebone and journey time is normally about forty minutes.
Famous for the sealing of the Magna Carta, this peaceful and introspective meadow is just 25 miles from West London, yet feels a lifetime away. As you wander along the paths, you'll see various memorials scattered throughout, each invoking a different feeling and memory.
You'll start with a climb up to the impressive Air Forces Memorial. Here you can read the thousands of names of airmen and woman who lost their lives during the way. As you come out of the cloister, you'll be rewarded with views out over Surrey and on a clear day, you can almost picture old warbirds flying around over the capital.
Next, as you descend back down, you'll enter a small part of America in England. The JFK memorial, a seven-ton slab of Portland stone inscribed with inspiring words from the American presidents sits in an acre of land given to America to commemorate John F. Kennedy.
After a small section up along the River Thames with a view over Magna Carta, possibly the actual signing of the Magna Carta, you'll head back into the meadow to the Magna Carta monument. This beautiful columned granite memorial serves to help us remember the Magna Carta, the document that precedes all written law and guarantees our freedom in the UK.
You'll then head back onto the Thames Path for a peaceful and bracing walk along London's famous waterway. Take the time to admire the regal and eye-wateringly expensive riverside houses before you head back to Egham station for your return to London.
There are multiple trains an hour running from London Waterloo with the journey taking less than forty minutes. If you book in advance, a train ticket should cost around £12 at the time of writing.