The Capital Ring is a circular hike around London that crosses the city’s leafiest suburbs and explores some of its most-prized parks, woodlands, marshlands, lakes, reservoirs, and wildlife-rich nature reserves.
Whilst London might be perceived as a vast urban landscape, this hike shows just how much green and semi-rural space is hidden amid the ancient streets; affording a wonderfully-fresh perspective on England’s capital city.
Starting and finishing at the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, the 78-mile (126 kilometer) loop encircles inner and central London, taking in the city's best scenery, many historic places, and some of London’s most enchanting viewpoints.
The walking is leisurely throughout. Whilst there are hills, they are gentle and the trail is generally flat, well-maintained, and well-signposted. Whilst there are significant sections on hard surfaces, there is a good proportion of walking on a more natural terrain.
Regarding signage, if you are in an open space, look out for a white disc on a wooden post featuring a Big Ben logo and directional arrow. On the streets, look out for large aluminum signs featuring the walking man symbol strapped to lamp posts and other street furniture.
The Capital Ring is split into 15 short sections by Transport for London (TFL). However, in this Collection, we combine three TFL sections in each stage; making for a five-stage clockwise loop of the trail.
Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation. Public transport links are excellent throughout and accommodation is abundant. There is nothing to stop you walking the route counterclockwise either.
King George V tube station is half-a-mile (one kilometer) from the start of the hike. From the station, you can access the full London Underground network, taking you to any train station or coach station you require with ease.
The first stage of the Capital Ring explores the South East London Green Chain; a linked system of open spaces between the River Thames and Crystal Palace.
You begin by crossing underneath the Thames via Woolwich Foot Tunnel and emerge on the south bank near the mighty Thames Barrier.
You follow the river for a short while and then climb …
This stage takes you into a landscape where herds of deer skip through ancient woodland and wildlife-rich grasslands thrive.
You begin by exploring Crystal Palace Park, a pleasant Victorian parkland that boasts one of the largest mazes in the country, a farm, boating lake, museum, and more.
The trail then continues along residential streets and through small parks before reaching …
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You begin this stage by exploring Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to 50,000 different species of plants.
With Victorian glasshouses, an Alpine rock garden, a Mediterranean Garden, an arboretum, and an old deer park, there is much to see in Kew Gardens and in this route follows a detour to show it. However, this does …
This stage takes you right across North London through an array of parks and nature reserves.
From Harrow on the Hill, you drop into school playing fields, cross Preston Park, and continue along residential streets until you reach Fryent Country Park.
A designated nature reserve, Fryent is home to lots of wildlife including 80 species of birds, 21 types of …
The final stage takes you back to a time when the Thames Valley was not a vast urban metropolis but a place of gentle grasslands, woodlands, and marshlands.
You start along Stoke Newington Church Street and soon enter Abney Park, one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London.
In the park, you find Abney Park Chapel, which opened in …