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Little Venice, prettiest walks

London’s prettiest walks

Found yourself in a bit of a rut when it comes to your lockdown strolls? Grab your trainers, put on your coat and head out on one of these lovely walks in the capital

By Emma Vince and Rose Johnstone
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Of the many, shall we say, lifestyle changes that 2020 brought us, one that we're actually quite keen on is walking. It's likely that you've explored the capital on foot more than you have in years – and we bet that you know your own neighbourhood better than you ever did before.

Walking is a wonderful way to appreciate the variety and beauty of London – and if you're looking for some new routes to occupy your time, then we've got you sorted. Whether you're after a canal-side stroll, a historical jaunt or full nature immersion, you'll find it here in our round-up of seven pretty city walks which are sure to cheer you up.

It's the perfect way to make the most of the first signs of spring and to pass the time as we head into our last few months of pubs, shops, museums and restaurants being shut. Even better? By March 22 you'll be allowed to head out and about with five other friends and stop for a picnic at the end of it all. Luxury! 

RECOMMENDED: 101 best things to do in London

7 of London’s prettiest walks

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Simon Keats

1. The Line

Best for art lovers

Combine a mooch around East London with a healthy dose of culture and walk ‘The Line’ – a route that runs from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the Greenwich Peninsula. As London’s first contemporary art walk, you’ll spot all kinds of installations and sculptures along the way. Start your amble south of the river at North Greenwich where you'll see Alex Chinneck's upside down electricity pylon sculpture and Thomson and Craig's Here signpost. 

There's a break in the walk as it crosses the river, so if you're based closer towards Stratford, then there are some treats in store for you too: you'll pass Joanna Rajkowska's wonderous Hatchling sculpure before up towards Stratford.

2. Parkland Walk

Attractions Parks and gardens Finsbury Park

Best for getting back to nature

The Parkland Walk is officially London’s longest Local Nature Reserve, which makes it one of the best walks to spot wildlife – and we’re not just talking about stumpy-legged city pigeons. Depending on the time of year, you’ll share your walk with hedgehogs, foxes or dinky muntjac deer. The leafy 4km route follows a disused railway line that used to connect Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace and you can still spot echoes of the old line in the form of tunnels and disused platforms along the way. It’s the perfect place for a weekend outing whether you’re a dog walker, runner or cyclist. Start at Finsbury Park and follow the route all the way to Alexandra Palace.

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3. The Thames Path

Best for a day sightseeing

We're not suggesting that you do the entire Thames Path in one go (at 184 miles, that's impossible anyway). The whole path tracks the river from its source in the Cotswolds, but as it closes in on central London, the path offers pretty routes that cross through central London. Conveniently, the path is divided into more achievable sections. The Putney to Tower Bridge section is about 16.8km and, depending which of the two routes you choose, takes you through Battersea Park and then past all the big historical sights along the South Bank, including the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, theatres, galleries and restaurants. The north route takes you through Hurlingham Park, Chelsea and, finally, Westminster and Embankment to reach the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge finish. Two pretty awesome options.

4. Hampstead circular walk

Best for city views

This self-guided circular walk explores the highlights of Hampstead Heath, one of London’s wildest and most precious green spaces. Climb Parliament Hill for panoramic views of the city’s skyline, pass by the ponds (stop for a dip if you’re feeling brave) and admire the large white country mansion, Kenwood House. The walk takes you through some of the prettiest parts of Hampstead, too. Want to extend your walk? Visit Highgate Cemetery – atmospheric architecture surrounded by a peaceful wilderness that’s nowhere near as bleak as it sounds. Near Highgate Cemetery is a lesser-known green space called Waterlow Park. If it's snowing, a visit to this 20-acre park is a must, as locals love using it for sledging. There are also three ponds for wildlife-spotting and gorgeous skyline views from the benches. 

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Little Venice
Little Venice
© Will Rodrigues / Shutterstock.com

5. The Jubilee Greenway

Best for seeing everything

The Jubilee Greenway is a 60km route created in 2012 for (as its name suggests) the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to mark 60 years on the throne. The whopping loop offers 1 kilometre for each year of her reign. Well sign-posted with glass paving slabs throughout, the walk’s 10 sections cover much of the capital. The first section offers walkers a picturesque route between iconic Buckingham Palace and the winding waterways of Little Venice. You’ll walk up Constitution Hill, through Hyde Park, past Kensington Palace and Paddington before ending up among the picturesque canals and boats of Little Venice. Continue the walk to Camden where you might find some tasty takeaway food options, or mooch to Warwick Avenue to head back to the city.

6. Cox’s walk in Sydenham Hill Wood

Best for woodland wandering

If everything's feeling a bit much and you're craving a bit of nature immersion, then swap the tower blocks and busy streets for ancient oaks and leafy avenues. There’s no better place to get those forest feels than Sydenham Wood Hill, the London Wildlife’s Trust’s oldest nature reserve. One of the last remaining swathes of the Great North Wood, it’s home to 200 species of trees and plants and woodland fauna, such as bats, woodpeckers and tawny owls. Cross an ornamental footbridge over an old railway track and follow the oak-lined Cox’s Walk. The closest bus stop is Crescent Wood Road, or it’s a 25-minute walk from Sydenham Overground. It's also a short walk to the Horniman MuseumWhile you might not be able to visit its famed walrus at the moment, you can explore the museum's extensive and well-manicured gardens. End at the top of the hill for fabulous views of South East London.

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Flicker/dm-set
Flicker/dm-set
Flicker/dm-set

7. Diana Princess of Wales Memorial walk

Best for seeing parks and palaces

Ninety plaques in the ground mark this memorial walk, which covers four parks, three palaces, two mansions and lots of meaningful locations associated with the Princess. Check off four of eight royal parks as you wander through St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. If you’ve got restless little ones on your hands, stop at the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Kids love the pirate ship, teepees and sculptures, all inspired by the magical adventures of Peter Pan. The route runs in a sweeping figure of eight, so join the walk anywhere along the way and end up back where you began – Hyde Park Corner is roughly at the midpoint making it a good starting point to pick up either side of the loop.

On two wheels instead?

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