Winter Walks To Do With The Kids In & Around London
BEST FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
Hatchlands Park, Surrey
Just over an hour’s drive from London, Hatchlands Park is a beautiful National Trust property in Guildford. There are 400 acres of rolling parkland and woodland, with three main walking routes to choose from, including the Wix Wood walk which takes about an hour to complete. Along the route, there’s the ‘Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren’ adventure area where kids can climb the tree house, crawl through the burrow and balance on the beams. Over the Christmas period, families can look at the impressive decorations inside the house on the estate, and take pictures in the wooden sleigh in the courtyard. Don’t forget to stop at one of the cafés for hot chocolate with marshmallows and gingerbread men.
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. The vast area looks particularly beautiful during the winter months, when families visit the ponds at Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park to feed the ducks. 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 and a deer sanctuary.
Crystal Palace Park, London
Crystal Palace Park is often overlooked in favour of London’s royal parks, but it’s one of the best family-friendly options in the capital. Parents will appreciate the historic Crystal Palace Exhibition, which was rebuilt back in the 1930s after a fire, while little ones will love the giant statues at the Dinosaur Court which have been a hit with children since 1854. They might not be considered accurate by scientists today, but they make for great photos. There’s also a maze and an urban farm with everything from pigs and horses to snakes and lizards.
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 in the morning and follow the Hilltop Stroll – an easy route that can be completed with little ones in 30 minutes. There’s also the option to follow the Natural Play Trail where kids can climb trees and make dens in the woods. Head to the top of the hill for panoramic views of the hills where you can stop for hot drinks and cake at the small indoor café.
Hampton Court Palace, London
The famous Grade-I listed home of Henry VIII and his wives will keep kids entertained for hours. Less than an hour outside London, visitors can take a tour around the vast estate, including the beautiful gardens and historic maze, and learn about life at the 16th century court. This Christmas, there’s also an hour-long interactive light trail for kids, featuring everything from glittering unicorns to polka-dot panthers, as well as the Palace’s annual pop-up ice rink for the whole family to enjoy (until 8th January 2023).
WWT London Wetland Centre in Barnes has created an outdoor winter light trail (open until 8th January). After dark, little ones can see illuminated sculptures of animals found at the centre, including owls, otters, ducks, geese and herons, and hop between giant interactive lily pads across the pond. Families can also take a peek into the real-life otters' den for the chance to spot the furry family tucking up for bed, before visiting the Twilight Tweatery for hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Tickets start from £14.50.
BEST FOR OLDER KIDS
Petworth Park, West Sussex
Petwork Park is a little further afield, but it’s well worth the journey if you want a longer walk. With 700 acres of woodland to explore, try the Petworth Circular Trail. It’s clearly marked, offers beautiful views of the South Downs and it’s set in 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). Over the next few weeks Petworth House is hosting a Christmas market with choirs in the courtyard and festive food and drink options.
Bourne Wood, Surrey
Bourne Wood is a huge open heathland in Farnham, Surrey. The wood is also an iconic filming location, where scenes from 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 stroll with the kids. The routes aren’t waymarked, but the paths are clear. Bourne Wood looks particularly majestic in the morning, so we recommend setting off early for a frosty walk.
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, and 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 that run along the Thames, too. There isn’t a set trail to follow, so it’s best to do a bit of exploring. After the walk, you can take the kids through Greenwich Park to skate on the Queen's House Ice Rink (until 8th January).
Harry Potter Walking Tour, London
Restless teens and Harry Potter fans will love Klook’s walking tour around London, which offers a guided walk around the exact locations featured in the Harry Potter films. With dates available throughout the festive season, kids can see locations like Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross station, the Leaky Cauldron and Millennium Bridge which the infamous Death Eaters destroyed. Families will meet a guide at Westminster station before heading to the Ministry of Magic. Family tickets, including two adults and two kids, cost £28.
Hampstead Heath, London
For a brisk walk with teens, there are several routes worth knowing on Hampstead Heath – although its 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. You can also stop at The Brew House at Kenwood House for sandwiches and homemade cake.
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