Country walks outside London
Dust down your boots and dig out your backpack - here are ten of the best country walks outside the capital
Hastings circular, East SussexBest for coastal viewsLength 9.5 km (5.9 miles).Duration Two hours 40 minutes.Start and finish Hastings Station.Getting there Two trains per hour (one on Sundays) run to Hastings from Charing Cross (journey time: one hour 31-42 minutes). For those driving, park centrally in Hastings.Walk notes This rewarding walk begins with a stroll through Hastings Old Town and along the seafront at Rock-A-Nore, with the striking, tall black net huts away to your right. Following this is a fine cliff-top coastal walk with some steep climbs along the way. You’re now inside the boundaries of the Hastings Country Park, with the East Hill funicular railway to your right. Keep an eye out for the Park’s clearly visible wooden posts – for this shorter walk you will diverge from the coastal path at the eighth post, where a signpost points ahead towards Fairlight Glen (lower), Warren Glen, Firehills and Fairlight Glen (upper). Go towards ‘Fairlight picnic site 1 mile, North’s Seat 1.25 miles’. Turn left. After passing through shaded woodland along shingle paths, on your left you will reach the house of Titus Oates, the notorious fraudster. In 1678 he claimed to have discovered a Popish plot to kill Charles II and replace him with his Catholic brother James; 80 people were rounded up and several executed before Oates admitted he’d made the whole thing up. A little further on you’ll come to the entrance to St Clements Caves, also on your left. Further on, at the top of the West Cliff railway is the West Cliff Café, which is well placed for a break. From here it’s not far to the ruined and atmospheric Hastings Castle (www.visithastings.com).OS Landranger Maps 189 and 199.OS Explorer Maps 124 and 125.
Hurst Green to Oxted, Surrey/KentBest autumn strollLength 8km (4.7 miles).Duration Three hours.Start Hurst Green Station.Finish Oxted Station.Getting there Two trains per hour (one on Sunday) run from London Victoria to Hurst Green (journey time: 39 minutes – 49 minutes on Sunday). Trains from Oxted also run to Victoria. Drivers should park at Hurst Green and get the train back there from Oxted, one stop down the line.Walk notes This is the short version of a satisfying and reasonably gentle walk along the hills of north Kent and Surrey, much of it passing through woodland along the Greensand Way. This walk is especially attractive in autumn, offering a beautiful show of russets, browns and yellows when the leaves turn; the bluebell woods are also spectacular in late April and early May. Wolf Woods and pretty cottages (one – Pastens Cottage – with an inscription to Sergey Kravchinsky Stepniak, the nineteenth-century Russian revolutionary, on the side of it) mark the route until you reach your stop for a well-deserved lunch, the Carpenters Arms (01883 722 209). Back on the road you pass through woods and along bridleways until you reach another welcome refreshment stop, conveniently next to the station, at Robertson’s tearoom (01883 712 777).OS Landranger Maps 187 and 188.OS Explorer Map 146.
Saunderton via West Wycombe circular, BuckinghamshireBest for fit familiesLength 16km (10 miles). Duration Five hours.Start and finish Saunderton Station.Getting there Trains run hourly between Marylebone and Saunderton (journey time: 42-51 minutes). For those driving, Saunderton Station car park is free.Walk notes This walk combines an easy stroll in the Chilterns through a mixture of woodland and sloping meadows. The route heads south east over the Chiltern Hills to Bradenham (where a diversion off the main route allows you to cut the walk short by some 6km/3.75 miles) and continues through Naphill Common and Flagmore Wood to Hughenden Manor (01494 755 565/www.nationaltrust.org.uk). The stretch from Hughenden heads west across Downley Common to West Wycombe Caves (01494 533 739/www.hellfirecaves.co.uk), take this opportunity for a tea stop at the café. After a brisk climb from the caves up to Dashwood Mausoleum, purportedly the site of the notorious Hellfire secret society meetings, it is then an easy, level stroll back into Saunderton. For lunch, the George & Dragon Hotel (01494 464 414) on West Wycombe High Street is 5km (3 miles) from the start.OS Landranger Map 165.OS Explorer Map 172.
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