London is a very walkable city, despite its sprawling size. Those who spend all their time in taxis and on the Underground miss out on a wonderful opportunity to get to know the shape of the city and its streets. Once you know that you can easily walk between Leicester Square and Covent Garden in five minutes, instead of riding the Tube for a single stop – that’s the beginning of a new and intimate relationship with this beautiful city.
Exploring Covent Garden in London
The other thing that makes London a haven for those who love to stretch their legs is its abundance of green space. It has more parks and lawns than any other major city, and the result is that there are plenty of opportunities for stressed big-city residents as well as curious visitors to get out there and experience nature without having to leave the city. Even in winter, a walk through the park is a wonderful way to clear your head as you watch birds and squirrels play or enjoy the stark beauty of a winter landscape. Here are three of our favourite London walks to get you out and about.
1.The Thames Path:
This is actually a collection of public riverside paths that altogether stretch for 40 miles! You don’t have to walk the whole length, but because it’s so long it’s very easy to reach from just about anywhere in London – simply head towards the River Thames and once you reach the banks, start walking either east or west. A map is a smart thing to take with you, so you can stop at interesting places along the way or plan to end your walk at a historic riverside pub or famous landmark. One of the nicest parts of the Thames Path is in west London, from Hampton Court Palace to Albert Bridge. You’ll have beautiful historic buildings and pleasant river views, and the terrain is flat and easy to walk which makes it perfect for beginners.
Free to enter, this enormous park in west London is much wilder than the manicured inner-city parks. There are very few pavements inside it, so we recommend that you wear sturdy walking shoes and be prepared to encounter long grass and mud depending on the time of year. Locals love to walk their dogs here and give them space to run and roam. Climb to the highest hill and you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of St Paul’s Cathedral as you picnic on the soft grass. Keep an eye out for birds and wildlife, and in summer, seek out the swimming ponds – the perfect end to a tramp through the wilds on a humid summer day.
3.St James’s Park:
This inner-city park near the Grand Royale London Hyde Park is among London’s most picturesque, especially during spring and autumn. Get your camera out and immortalise the glowing colours of leaves and flowers to wow your friends back home – this is truly an Instagram-worthy place! The squirrels here are very used to people, and if you’re patient they will occasionally eat right out of your hand. This is also a great park for birdwatching, with pelicans, black swans and a huge range of duck species as well as woodland birds, raptors and even the occasional owl. It’s located next to Buckingham Palace, which is bordered on the other side by Green Park – previously owned by the Crown as a private park, but now open to the masses. You’re unlikely to get very far away from people in St James’s Park, given its position in the centre of London in a busy tourist district, but you can still enjoy the calming sights, sounds and smells of nature before you head back into the world of the city.