London parks for winter walks
The grassy sprawl of Hampstead Heath makes the perfect setting for a rural walk on a chilly day. Do a loop of the wild green space before stomping up to the dizzying heights of Parliament Hill to gaze at the city skyline, or swing a kite around if the weather is breezy enough.
Find some peace in the middle of the city with a wintery stroll around Kensington Gardens. There are open green spaces and woodlands to wander through, as well as plenty of pretty spots to stop at on your walk, like the Albert Memorial, the Serpentine and the Palace itself.
This 20-acre green space is one of the capital's hidden gems. There are three ponds for wildlife-spotting, benches with views for remembering how beautiful London is and hills for sledging if it snows. It’s also right next door to atmospheric Highgate Cemetery, if you want to extend your winter wander.
Kew Gardens does the winter months well, with popular light trail Christmas at Kew. The 300 acres of parkland are well worth a visit in daylight hours and not just during the festivities. Warm up with a walk through the arboretum, past lakes and woodland. If you’re still feeling chilly, hang out with the tropical plants in the Palm House.
One of the largest green spaces in south-east London, Greenwich Park is home to grasslands, woodlands and all sorts of wildlife. The park is also where you can find the Royal Observatory and the Greenwich Meridian Line. It’s a sublime setting for a ramble. The views from the top of the hill across to Canary Wharf and beyond are spectacular, and well worth the trek.
Victoria Park is one of London’s favourite open spaces. Stretched over a huge 200 acres, this swathe of the outdoors is nestled entirely in Tower Hamlets. In the summer, it’s taken over by a number of festivals, from Field Day to Lovebox, but it’s an ace green space to stride around in during chilly days too. Just look at that snowy scene.
Blow away the cobwebs with a stroll around the marshlands of Walthamstow. They hold the crown for being Europe’s biggest urban wetlands, and are home to some rare flora and fauna that can be spotted as you walk around. Take a pair of binoculars, find yourself a bird hide and enjoy some peace and quiet after the annual family Christmas carnage.
Richmond Park is an enormous rural wild, occupying 2,500 acres. There are hundreds of red and fallow deer roaming free across its open spaces and dense, ancient woodland. You can stretch your legs on a number of short or lengthy routes, wander until you’re lost in nature or head for the park’s highest point, where you get unobstructed views of St Paul’s Cathedral, more than 12 miles in the distance.
Sat in 190 acres of parkland, Ally Pally looks out over north London from a height. Its altitude rewards casual walkers with spectacular views of the city skyline. To stretch out your winter walk, take the Parkland Walk route from Ally Pally to Highgate and down a delightful disused railway line to Finsbury Park.
Set off around Regent’s Park for a winter wander. There are pretty tree-lined walkways, ornamental lakes and formal gardens to admire, plus the canal and the chance you'll catch a glimpse of the inhabitants of London Zoo. Clamber up nearby Primrose Hill for lovely views.
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