Epping Forest, Essex
Once home to a royal hunting ground in Tudor times, Epping Forest straddles the border between London and Essex, with more than 6,000 acres of vast woodland and bursting with wildlife. It’s a great choice for a Boxing Day walk as the woodland area looks beautiful on a cold, crisp day. There are a few routes to follow, but one of the most scenic has to be the Oak Trail which starts at Theydon Bois underground station. From there, the signposted route is easy to follow and passes through beautiful surroundings, including fields, babblings brooks and a deer sanctuary.
Hascombe Hill, Surrey
Hascombe Hill in Surrey is a 90-minute drive from London, but its postcard views are well worth the journey. There are a few routes to take in the dense woodland area, but one of the prettiest is the Hascombe Hill Circular trail. The signposted 4.2km loop starts at Log Bench, before continuing towards Hill Corner. There are several places to stop where you’ll be able to see as far as the South Downs, but for some of the best views, look out for the sculptural seating along the path. Hascombe Hill is a great place for dogs, so be sure to bring your four-legged friend along, too.
Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire
If you’re after a more challenging trail, head to the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire. Just over an hour’s drive from London, the area is home to one of the most stunning vistas in the south east, which looks particularly beautiful during the winter. For a crisp Boxing Day walk that can be completed in a few hours, follow the trail from Rickmansworth to Chesham. Look out for historical ruins along the way, as well as local wildlife such as water voles and robins.
Hatchlands Park, Surrey
Just over an hour’s drive from London, Hatchlands Park is a beautiful National Trust property in Guildford. Although the manor house is currently closed, you can still head on a lovely Boxing Day walk around the 400 acres of rolling parkland and woodland. There are three main walking routes to choose from, but one of the best is the Wix Wood walk which takes an hour to complete. Along the route, there’s a children’s adventure area and a beautiful bluebell valley. Follow the signposts and watch out for roaming cows along the way.
Petworth Park, West Sussex
Petwork Park is a little further afield, but it’s well worth the journey if you want a longer Boxing Day walk. With 700 acres of woodland and lush lawns to explore, a lovely walking route to take is the Petworth Circular Trail. The trail, which is clearly marked, passes beautiful views of the South Downs and one of the largest deer parks in England. At the end of the circular walk, you’ll pass the historic Petworth House, (a stunning 17th-century Grade I listed country property). If you’ve got little ones in tow, they can follow a Peter Rabbit activity trail around the estate to find Peter and his friends.
Bourne Wood, Surrey
Bourne Wood is a huge open heathland in Farnham, Surrey. The wood is also an iconic filming location, where scenes from Gladiator, Robin Hood and the Harry Potter series were filmed. Once you’ve made the 90-minute drive from London, set out on one of the walking trails for a leisurely Boxing Day stroll. The routes aren’t waymarked, but the paths are clear. Bourne Wood looks especially majestic in the morning, so set off early for a beautiful frosty walk.
Greys Court, Oxfordshire
Located near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, Greys Court has some of the most picturesque view in the south east. Visitors can appreciate the National Trust property bedecked in Christmas decorations, before heading on a scenic walk around the gardens, which will be open to visitors on Boxing Day. Walk around the impressive gardens, or for a longer route, continue to the Chiltern Hills, just a short drive away.
Box Hill, Surrey
Explore the Surrey Hills on a walking tour of Box Hill. Forming part of the North Downs, the historic area can be reached in just over an hour’s drive from London. Head to the hills on Boxing Day morning and follow the Hilltop Stroll – an easy route than can be completed in 30 minutes. At the top, you’ll see panoramic views of the hills where you can stop for a takeaway drink at the small indoor café. Box Hill is particularly popular with dog walkers, so make it a family affair and bring your pup along, too.
Blackheath Common, London
Just a short distance from Greenwich Park, Blackheath Common is a beautiful green space in south east London. The area, which dates back to the middle ages, is steeped in history, but today, it’s a World Heritage Site. From Point Hill, you can spot parts of Essex and Kent in the distance, and there are a number of vantage points which run along the Thames, too. There isn’t a set trail to follow, so it’s best to do a bit of exploring.
Leith Hill, Surrey
Located in the picturesque town of Dorking in Surrey, Leith Hill has a great selection of walking routes for those looking for a country stroll. There are several routes to choose from, but one of our favourites is the Woodland Trail, which takes around two hours to complete. It’s quite steep in parts, so it’s best to wear proper walking shoes. If you’re up for a challenge, make an afternoon of it and climb the 78 steps of Leith Hill Tower for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.
Richmond Park, London
Once a deer hunting park in the 17th century, Richmond Park is London’s largest royal green space. For a scenic route the whole family will enjoy, Richmond Park to Ham House is a circular walk that takes around 90 minutes to complete – passing through Pembroke Lodge Gardens and Petersham Meadows, there are plenty of scenic stops along the way. For a longer walk, follow the Tamsin Trail, a guided perimeter of the park which can be completed in four hours.
Hampstead Heath, London
For a brisk Boxing Day walk, there are several walking routes to take on Hampstead Heath, but the Hampstead Heath Circular Trail has the best scenery. Starting at Parliament Hill, follow the path past the ponds to Millfield Lane. From there, the route continues to Poets Lane (named after Coleridge and Keats who frequented the area), Kenwood House, and the ancient Wylde Wood. Via Golders Hill Park, make your way to the summit of Hampstead Heath, before finishing at Pryors Field. The trail is popular with families, so head here on Boxing Day morning to avoid the crowds.