We've all been walking a lot more recently, whether it's been around your local park, along the River Thames, or just to pick up a frappuccino from your local coffee shop. Sure it might be a bit chillier now, but that doesn't mean you can't wrap up and still enjoy a stroll around the capital (British weather permitting).
London can seem hectic at times and we know how important it is to ensure you get some quiet time to yourself amongst all the chaos. We've pulled together our top 10 open spaces across the capital that are perfect for taking a moment to yourself to re-charge in the big city - social distancing friendly of course.
1. HYDE PARK
In the absence of Winter Wonderland this year (which we’re still teary about), Hyde Park may see a downturn in visitors during the colder months. But as one of the most popular and biggest green spaces across London, it is still a must-visit this winter. It’s the perfect place to grab a takeaway coffee and meander with the swans along the banks of the Serpentine.
Take a walk up to the top of the hill in the centre of the park and admire the contrast of frosted greenery with the skyline of London. Hampstead Heath’s woodlands and meadows are perfect for a winter stroll and while it may be a bit chilly for open-water swimming, the ponds provide the ideal spot to reflect on the year that has been.
Ally Pally looks out over north London, and the winding paths and views over the city mean this place is guaranteed to be beautiful whatever the weather—particularly if you’re lucky enough to catch the sun rising or setting. To stretch out your winter walk, try taking the Parkland Walk route from Alexandra Palace to Highgate and down a charming disused railway line to Finsbury Park.
On this walk you’ll pass some of Battersea Park’s best-known attractions which can still be enjoyed in winter. Make your way along the river with a hot chocolate in hand and you’ll see the towering Peace Pagoda, then stop by the Battersea Zoo, home to a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and more, the boating lake, and the Old English Garden.
5. KEW GARDENS
With the renowned light trail Christmas at Kew open again for 2020, Kew Gardens does the winter months well. The 300 acres of parkland are also well worth a visit in daylight hours for a chilled West London walk where you can warm-up with a walk through the arboretum, then past lakes and through the misty woodland.
Kensington Gardens is one of London’s many royal parks and home to Kensington Palace, plus an array of memorials, statues and the Serpentine Gallery. Visit Queen Victoria’s birthplace for a bit of culture surrounded by beautiful gardens and greenery – even more so when glittering with a touch of frost this winter.
If you fancy going on a hike this winter, then consider trekking the entire 200+ acres of Victoria Park, just make sure you wrap up warm! If you don’t feel like going on quite so long an adventure, you can still stretch your legs on a number of short or lengthy routes and just stroll around the park grounds taking in the crisp, city air.
London’s oldest enclosed Royal Park is set on the side of a hill overlooking the River Thames. Take a chilled walk to the top of the hill and capture one of London’s best natural views of the city skyline covered in frost. As part of Greenwich World Heritage Site, you’ll find the Prime Meridian here, which is the reference line to Greenwich Mean Time. Ideal for a wrapped-up walk on a chilly day with views and a little history, if you’re in the mood.
Primrose Hill is great for marvellous views of the city and wintertime sees it looking gorgeous under a blanket of frost. The trees are kept low so the view won’t be obscured, and even on a misty day you can still read the plaques at the top of the hill which name the buildings you might be able to see from the view points. Surrounded by pastel-coloured houses, boutiques and delis, this small green space off Regent’s Park is the perfect place for a winter walk.
10. RICHMOND PARK
Covering a whopping 2500 acres, Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve and just a stone’s throw from central London. Famous for its grasslands and herds of deer (how Christmassy), you’ll forget you’re still in London and makes for the perfect rural walk on a chilly day.
If you're looking for other ways to entertain yourself this winter, check out our blog on 5 festive recipes for our favourite Christmas treats.