There are traditions reserved solely for the Christmas period. Eating at least one brussel sprout and having an argument over who gets the mini comb from the crackers are just two guaranteed experiences. Aside from these, there is one question that is guaranteed to be asked: ‘Shall we go for a walk?’. After over indulging, it is an almost universal known fact that at some point someone will make this suggestion, and possibly unlike any other time in winter, you’ll also agree that walking is a brilliant idea. Here are our recommendations for where to take your seasonal stroll.
Abundant in picturesque views, Brockwell park is a visual delight for walkers. Ornamental ponds, a walled ‘Old English’ flower garden and a charming 19th century clock tower, Brockwell Park is also home to a number of historic buildings, including Brockwell Hall and the Brockwell Lido. Nearby pub: The Commercial.
Just missing out to Richmond Park as the largest Royal Park in London, Bushy Park, is home to some beautiful sights. Locate the Teddington Gate for a striking view of Chesnut Avenue, with the Arethusa ‘Diana’ Fountain and the Banqueting Hall as the backdrop. Famous for its deer, the park is full of wildlife for you to spot as you stroll around the grounds; butterflies, moths and rare bees aplenty. Venture to the peaceful settings of the Woodland and Water Gardens for a pleasant ending to a brisk walk. Nearby pubs: The King Arms Hotel (if exiting by the main gate) or The Bloated Mallard (at the other end of the park).
An entirely flat walkway makes Lea Valley suitable for walkers of all abilities to ensure no one misses out on the Christmas outing. Recently rennovated, it is now possible to follow the River Lee canal towpath all the way from the source of the river right through to the Limehouse Basin. Nearby pub: The Ferry Boat (Ferry Lane, N17 9NG).
The gateway to the extensive Hampstead Heath, Parliament Hill provides clear views of the Gherkin and St Paul’s, making it the perfect high point to admire the City. Head south west down the hill and cross the Hampstead Heath ponds, and if you’re brave enough to take a dip as they are open all year round for swimmers. Brrrrrrr. Nearby pub: The Holly Bush.
A popular destination for walkers, Richmond Park is an effortless walk full of areas to explore. One of its most beautiful spots is Isabella Plantation, an ornamental garden with ponds, streams and plants of interest. Make time to visit Henry’s Mound for a spectacular view too. Despite its popularity, this walk should provide peaceful respite after the excitement of the festive period. Nearby pub: The Roebuck (near Richmond Gate), The Park Tavern, (New Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT2 6AR, near the Kingston Gate).
Have a stroll by the canal (home to inexplicable sights such as railway tracks that go nowhere and broken pylons) or head to the green open space of Wormwood Scrubs to admire the charming landscape, as you make your way through the groves of poplar, hazel. It may be a little unkempt but this walk is full of character. Nearby pub: Cut through Kensal Green Cemetery to The Masons Arms.