12 Autumn Weekend Walks In The Capital

12 Autumn Weekend Walks In The Capital

Clear skies, bright sunlight, leaves on the ground... If that doesn't make you feel like a walk, nothing will. Here are 12 walks to make the most of this time of year...

Crystal Palace Park

The Italian Terraces are a great place to start at this Grade II*-listed south-east London park. You’ll begin to appreciate the sheer scale of the Crystal Palace Exhibition building via the few remnants that survived the 1936 fire that destroyed it. From the grass bank on the Upper Terrace, there are views towards Kent’s rolling hills. The giant statues of the Dinosaur Court have been a hit with children since 1854. They might not be considered anatomically accurate by scientists today, but they make for great photo opps. The maze and urban farm are also good for kids, who can meet everything from pigs and horses to snakes and lizards.

Thicket Road, Crystal Palace, SE20 8DT

Visit CrystalPalacePark.org.uk

Epping Forest

Epping Forest is a huge, ancient woodland stretching from Epping (in Essex) in the north to Forest Gate (in London) in the east. Home to more than 50,000 ancient pollard trees and 100 lakes and ponds, it is of national and international conservation importance. If you’re starting your stroll from the London end, we suggest making your way to The Temple in Wanstead Park. Designed in the 18th century as a feature for the formal gardens of historic Wanstead Park, the building now serves as a visitor centre where you can discover the story of the park. Its grounds regularly play host to events, plus there’s an open-air theatre.

Warren Road, Wanstead, E11 2LS

Visit CityOfLondon.gov.uk

The Hampstead Circular

The best way to discover the best bits of Hampstead Heath is to take an amble around the four-mile Hampstead Heath Circular Walk. A good place to start is Parliament Hill Café: from here you’ll take in Kenwood House art gallery, Hampstead Grove and Burgh House before working your way back up Parliament Hill. Even if it’s chilly, you can still consider a dip in one of the famous bathing ponds (if you’re shy, there’s a women-only pool). You can always warm up at Kenwood’s Brew House afterwards.

Parliament Hill Café, Highgate, NW5 1QR

Visit CityOfLondon.gov.uk

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park is a former hunting ground and one of the largest single green spaces in south-east London. One of the city’s Royal Parks, and the first to be enclosed, it covers 183 acres and is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site. When it comes to autumnal strolls, this one is up there with the best, mostly due to its range of indoor attractions (just in case it rains). The Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory all fall within park borders. Check out the remains of Queen Elizabeth’s Oak (and the tranquil flower, herb and orchard gardens) but the real draw here are the hilltop views that stretch across the Thames towards St Paul’s Cathedral.

Greenwich Park, Greenwich, SE10 8XJ

Visit RoyalParks.org.uk 

Brompton Cemetery

One of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries in London, Grade I-listed Brompton Cemetery is a resting place for over 200,000 people, a haven for wildlife and a popular destination for walks. Far from being morbid, the cemetery is alive with the fascinating stories of all the people buried there since the 1830s, including well-known names like Emmeline Pankhurst and John Snow. Beneath the spectacular trees and undergrowth are over 35,000 gravestones and monuments, plus a newly restored chapel café and visitor centre. The perfect place for a reflective stroll.

Brompton Park, Kensington, SW10 9UG

Visit RoyalParks.org.uk

Victoria Park

Familiar to some as the former home of Field Day, Citadel and this summer’s All Points East festivals, Victoria Park is the city's oldest purpose-built park. Its beautiful trees and plants embody the changing seasons, while there are fun play areas for little ones, two cafés offering delicious fare (we like the Pavilion Café to the east) and ducks to feed. If you fancy taking to the water yourself, there is a fleet of floating swans to pedal on the lake. A modern addition is Memoryscape, an audio trail winding through the park that visitors listen to using headphones – just download from the council website.

Victoria Park, Bow, E3 5TB

Visit TowerHamlets.co.uk

Primrose Hill

One for celeb-spotters, this is a gentle walk that starts from the bottom of Regent’s Park and works its way up to the delights of Primrose Hill and its sweeping views over central London, Belsize Park and Hampstead. The summit features a York stone monument edged with a William Blake inscription: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.” Once back at Regent’s Park, you can feed the ducks, go for a ride on the pedalos or pay a visit to ZSL London Zoo.

Primrose Hill, Camden, NW3 3NA

Visit RoyalParks.org.uk

Hyde Park

Bang in the centre of the capital, Hyde Park offers world-class events and concerts together with plenty of quiet places to relax and unwind. We like the Rose Garden. Another of the Royal Parks, visitors can dip their toes in the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, brave an open-water swim in the Serpentine, or just admire the lake views from the waterside Lido Café. Those not content with a leafy stroll around Hyde Park’s 350 acres can opt to have a go at boating, tennis or horse riding.

Hyde Park, Kensington, W2 2UH

Visit RoyalParks.org.uk 

The Jubilee Greenway

The Jubilee Greenway was completed in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games. The most recent addition to the Walk London routes, it is 60km long – one km for each year of the Queen’s reign – and links together all the major Games sites. It also visits some of the city's longer-standing landmarks, including Little Venice, Chapel Market and HMS Belfast. An ideal weekend walk begins at Little Venice, along the canal and up to Camden.

Various locations from Buckingham Palace to the Thames Barrier

Visit TFL.gov.uk 

Battersea Park

This Grade II-listed park is one of London’s most interesting. Within it are five different sub-gardens (herb, Old English, Russell Page, winter and sub-tropical gardens), plus cricket pitches, an array of sculptures and a children’s zoo. Come autumn, the park’s highlight is the promontory, a piece of embankment that juts out 12m into the Thames. A cluster of Japanese maples makes up this garden’s centerpiece, creating a beautiful array of autumnal colours.

Battersea Park, Battersea, SW11 4NJ

Visit BatterseaPark.org

Kyoto Gardens

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s largest park comprises 54 acres of gardens, children’s play parks, sports areas and large areas of woodland abundant with wildlife. Also contained within the park is the beautiful Kyoto Garden, a Japanese garden donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991. Autumn is the best time to see this traditional garden in all its colourful glory. A tranquil spot with tiered waterfalls and a pond full of koi carp, the garden is filled with stone lanterns, maple trees and – if you’re lucky – one or two peacocks.

Holland Park, Kensington, W11 4UA

Visit RBKC.gov.uk 

St James’s Park

Not just greenery and a series of picturesque lakes, 57-acre St James’s Park also encompasses The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, and is surrounded by landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Whitehall. To be honest, this one’s worth the walk just to see St James’s Park’s best inhabitants: the flock of pelicans, which have resided here for almost 400 years. We suggest a stop-off at Rochelle Canteen in the ICA post-wander – its classic British dishes of pheasant pie and winter greens will warm you right up.

St James’s Park, St James’s, SW1A 2BJ

Visit RoyalParks.org.uk

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