As lockdown slowly lifts more and more Londoners are desperate to get outdoors, breathe in some country air and go for a day trip away from the city. For the past month I have been dedicating my weekends to exploring more of what is on my backdoor. So I wanted to share my personal favourite spots for a walk in the beautiful British countryside. All of which are easily accessible from London (by car).
This area of outstanding natural beauty is located South West of London. The Surrey Hills stretches across a quarter of the county of Surrey and includes the chalk slopes of the North Downs from Farnham in the west to Oxted in the east and extends south to the deeply wooded Greensand Hills which rise in Haslemere. It is known for being home to Leith Hill, the highest point in South East England, the Devil’s Punchbowl and the popular Box Hill hike. Find out more on the Surrey Hills website.
The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) covers 324 square miles of countryside. Northwest of London, it stretches from the River Thames in southern Oxfordshire up through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It is known for being home to red kites, a beautiful bird of prey, and some stunning scenery. Popular activities include exploring the Dunstable Downs and taking on sections of the Ridgeway Trail. Find out more on the Chiltern Hills website.
This picturesque region of Kent is located South East of London, and the perfect spot for a weekend walk. This area is often called “The Garden of England” and is known for its numerous stately homes, such as Knole Park which has some friendly resident deer. Walks in the region are often a varied mix of woodland, rolling hills and quaint villages. The dream. Find out more on the Sevenoaks District website.
The South Downs
The newest of the UK’s 15 National Parks, this region stretches about 70 miles from the ancient pastures and woodland of eastern Hampshire via the West Sussex Weald to the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex. It’s known as a treasured British chalk landscape. It is heaven for hiking, with both countryside ambles and coastal trails. Many like to take on the famous South Downs Way, walk along the Seven Sisters cliffs or absorb the views at Ditchling Beacon; but I personally love the idyllic town of Arundel with its looming castle. Find out more on the South Downs website.
If you’re wondering how to find trails in these four areas then I recommend checking out my Beginners Guide to Hiking article which explains how to find the best routes in a region.