Beautiful Woodland Walks in London
Londoners typically love the hustle and bustle of the city, but we’re all human, and sooner or later, we need to escape and recharge.
Living in a capital city doesn’t immediately conjure up daydreams of idyllic woodland walks, but in fact, London has plenty to offer in that department.
Whether you’re already settled and looking for somewhere to escape to, or you’re on the hunt for places to live in London that offer up some woodland magic, here is a list of some beautiful London woodland walks.
Arguably the best-known forest near London, Epping Forest straddles the northeastern border of London and provides walkers with a magical expanse of forestry treats.
The famous forest encompasses 2,400 hectares of ancient forest woodland, featuring lakes, grasslands, and an abundance of wildlife. Epping Forest is the perfect spot for both a quick fresh air getaway, and an all-day ramble reset. A feast of beautiful wildflowers and their lovely scents, and a variety of secluded pathways makes for a wonderfully tranquil vibe.
Two ducks swimming in Epping Forest, United Kingdom.
The moment you set foot in Hampstead Heath Woods, it’s abundantly clear why it has inspired countless authors, including the likes of C.S. Lewis, and has long been considered one of the most popular outdoor spots in the capital.
Hampstead Heath Woods comprises beautiful meadows, ponds, and woodland teeming with wildlife, as well as a stunning view from Primrose Hill and of London’s skyline from Parliament Hill.
Wonderful woodland adventures await between Hampstead Lane and Kenwood House, with walkers left feeling that they have well and truly escaped the hustle and bustle of the city.
Blackbush & Twenty Acre Shaw Woods
Just a stone’s throw from the delightful village of Cudham in Bromley, the beautiful scenery of Blackbush and Twenty-Acre Shaw Woods provides an interesting mix of old and new woodland.
Particularly special in spring when the bluebells are in full bloom, this pair of woods are set close by to the home of Charles Darwin, Down House. He surely visited these woodland areas, so by taking a walk through Cudham and into these picturesque woods, you’re in good company.
Sydenham Hill Wood
Sydenham Hill Woods - the largest remaining pocket of the original Great North Wood that stretched from Deptford to South Norwood - is a 10-hectare woodland that can be found via tracks from Crystal Palace to Nunhead, or by strolling along the 18th century ‘Cox’s Walk.’
Cox’s Walk was created in 1742 by a publican called Francis Cox, and is considered by many to be the most pleasant forest walk of London. You can also spot a delightful old Victorian folly among the ancient trees.
Hainault Forest is a glorious ancient woodland that has to be seen to be believed, and is one of the last remaining pockets of the original ancient Forest of Essex. Now sprawling across 366 acres, Hainault Forest forms part of the Hainault Forest Country Park, spanning parts of Havering, Redbridge and Essex.
The forest was once a royal hunting ground, and is now a tranquil home to over 1,000 species of wildlife, with several reported sightings of rare bird species such as nightingales and turtle doves. There are several routes through the beautiful woodlands, popular with both walkers and cyclists.
These ancient woodlands, set atop the southeast London district of Shooter’s Hill, are made up of many beautiful meadows, ancient deciduous trees, and pretty footpaths to follow.
Situated in Greenwich, some parts of Oxleas Wood date back more than 8,000 years, and the woodland features a wonderful folly called Severndroog Castle that protrudes up above the treeline. The folly has been turned into a quaint cafe, offering stunning views from the upstairs level.
What more could you ask from a forest than for it to be the inspiration (and setting) for the beloved tales of Winnie the Pooh.
Just south of East Grinstead, Ashdown Forest is close by the village of Hartfield, where author A.A. Milne lived. It is the famous, magical forest upon which Milne based her tales of Winnie the Pooh and friends, as they lived and adventured throughout the ‘Hundred Acre Wood.’
And you needn’t rely solely on your imagination to experience Ashdown Forest as the Hundred Acre Wood. There are plenty of spots throughout the woodland to guide you into the world of Pooh - Poohsticks Bridge, Eeyore’s Sad, Gloomy Place, Roo’s Sandy Pit, the Enchanted Place, and more. Obviously a big hit for a family outing.
Aside from all things Winnie the Pooh, the Ashdown Forest stretches over 2,500 hectares and features heathland conservation areas to protect the vast array of beautiful flora and fauna it hosts. There are a variety of long and short footpaths to cater to hikers and walkers, and the nearby Hatch Inn is a wonderful place to stop by, especially in the winter months, with a roaring fire and yummy pub grub.
Ruffet and Big Wood
Escape the city buzz with a trip to this peaceful wood close to Coulsdon, Sutton. Head to the north side of the wood on a clear day and you’ll be treated to fine views out across London. Keep your eyes peeled and you may see the great spotted woodpeckers that live here.
Named after Queen Victoria, Queen’s Wood is one of the four nature reserves in Haringey, and can be found between Crouch End and Highgate. A surviving section of the original Forest of Middlesex (dating back to AD 1600), this ancient wood is filled with a huge variety of wildlife, including many birdlife varieties; Blue tits, Greater-Spotted Woodpeckers, Robins, Sparrow Hawks, Wrens, and of course, a smattering of good ol’ fashioned London pigeons.
Queen’s Wood is also a thriving habitat for buttercups and bluebells, oak trees and field maple trees. A truly beautiful, vibrant woodland escape nice and close to the city chaos.
Richmond Park is a stunning park that may not technically be classed as a forest or woodland area; however, with its abundance of ancient trees, it can’t be overlooked.
The vast, botanical gardens of the Isabella Plantation are packed with vibrant, colourful plants and evergreen azaleas, and the park is home to an estimated 630 Red and Fallow Deer, who have been roaming freely within the park since 1637 - a walker’s and nature spotter’s dream.
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