The festive season is a bit of a sluggish time for many, lots of eating, drinking, and sitting around watching Christmas TV. This year, with on and off lockdowns, the real value of fresh air, exercise and the outdoors has been made clear, so here are a few good long walks around England’s biggest city, to stretch your legs and get out and about for 2021.
1. London LOOP
The London LOOP, or London Orbital, is a circular Walk around London consisting of 24 sections summing a total of 150 miles. The route’s division into different sections, from it’s start at Erith station to it’s end at Purfleet, means you can walk as much or as little of it as you wish. The sections are for the most part flat or gently sloping, so it’s a great way to get to know the iconic city on foot. Walking through beautiful open spaces like Hainault Forest Country Park and Bushy Park will give you a healthy does of greenery, whilst historic buildings like Hall Place and Black Jack’s Lock & Mill add to the scenery. Stage 8 follows the Grand Union Canal, if you’re after a soothing waterside walk.
2. Thames Path
The London section of the Thames Path is divided into four sections on both the North and South Banks of the river, and spans 79.5 miles. The route stretches from the lost floodplains of Richmond, with its impressive houses and wealthy neighbourhood, to the Dickensian stretches of the eastern marshes. Scenery varies and so it depends on what type of walk you are looking for, the west of the route is the greener, lusher end, while the east offers more of the history of the working river. If you wish to connect more than one walk, there’s also a 10 mile extension from the Thames Barrier to Crayford Ness which takes you to join the London LOOP circuit.
3. Jubilee Walkway
A 15 mile route, Jubilee Walkway is the perfect way to explore London’s most iconic landmarks. Consisting of five circular sections, the walk includes famous London sights such as the Tate Modern, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and plenty of others. The ideal combination of sightseeing and exercise.
4. Lea Valley Walk
The Lea Valley Walk spans 15.6 miles and consists of six sections between Waltham Cross and East India Dock, following the route along the Lee Navigation towpath, from Waltham Abbey to the Thames at Limehouse Basin. The walk takes you along peaceful towpaths, crossing Cornmill Meadows and its dragonfly sanctuary, then past the King George V Reservoir and on to see the glass and steel of Canary Wharf. There are also several historic locks to see and the Tottenham Marshes, with over 100 acres of wetlands. A varied walk that’s great if you want a bit of everything.
5. Green Chain Walk
The Green Chain Walk in southeast London runs 50 miles and is divided into 11 sections between Thamesmead and Nunhead Cemetery. The walk allows you to explore over 300 fields, ancient woodlands, meadows, parks and cemeteries in the area and is not a linear walk so you can pick and choose your routes. There are also interesting sights along the way, such as the 18th-century Gothic folly Severndroog Castle and the Art Deco Eltham Palace. A useful route if you want to wander as you please, rather than follow a circular walk.