Wintry Walks that End in Pubs
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There's something exciting about getting ready for a winter walk. Layering up to the nines, digging out those shoes that provide ankle support, loading up on carbs - you feel like Bear Grylls getting ready to enter the ragged wilds of London. One year we got so carried away hiking through Central we drank from a canal and skinned a bear (which turned out to be a cocker spaniel).
But we all know the best part of braving the elements as an intrepid urban explorer for an afternoon: the pub at the end. A pint of something dark somewhere warm is just what you need as you settle back into civilised life and swap stories of walks past.
Hampstead Heath Loop
With the gloriously opulent Kenwood House; the highest point in London; and half-mad pond swimmers, there's plenty to see across the untamed woodlands of Hampstead Heath. In winter, with the trees bare and the sun low, the atmosphere really picks up a notch as you ramble around the misty hills and potentially-frozen ponds. There are all kinds of routes to take and you can easily make it up as you go without getting too lost.
Head to The Southampton Arms afterwards for a pint in one of our favourite pubs ever.
Victoria Park to Clapton Canal Walk
This 5k canal walk takes you through some of the best sights that East London has to offer: from the scenic fields of Viccy P, to the graffitied walk ways and craft beer terraces of Hackney Wick, and up through increasingly serene canals as you head up the Lea Valley Navigation. We'd usually duck out at The Princess of Wales pub in Clapton but you can follow this baby up to Tottenham if you're a proper trooper.
Nunhead Cemetery to Dulwich
Taking a section of the Green Chain Walk (‘cos no one has the time to do the whole thing) you can snake a trail from Nunhead to Crystal Palace with relatively little road time. Nunhead Cemetery could be a walk in itself with all its serenity and ivy-clad tombstones, but we like variety. Swing through Brockley, Honor Oak, East Dulwich then up to Dulwich Park for a poke around the Picture Gallery.
One final push to The Great Exhibition and all your beverages needs will be catered for.
Little Venice to Primrose Hil
Canal boats will forever hold a weird appeal to us - like if we had one all our problems would float away and be replaced with quaint canal-boat problems like deciding where to moor and what herbs to grow on the roof. For this reason a walk along the Regent’s Canal is like window shopping for a better life. From Little Venice in Paddington, up through St John’s Wood and around Regent’s Park (listen for the animals), you can get to the bottom of Primrose Hill. Climb 4 views.
Head down to Camden and The Lock Tavern for a cosy pub with a heated and covered garden.
Thames Walk: Waterloo to Rotherhithe
We spend so much time actively trying to avoid Central London that we forget that it can be a pretty beautiful place when it wants to be. A walk along the Thames holds all kinds of surprises and little peeks into London's history; old ships, Victorian wharfs and cobbled streets will have you coming over all Dickensian. From Southbank to the Mayflower in Rotherhithe is enough for us, but we hear it's nice either side as well if you've got the stamina.
Blackheath to Greenwich
For those much lauded views, this 3Ker is the one to beat. From the picturesque Blackheath Village, and all its boutique shops, head up through Blackheath and onto Observatory Hill where you can see as far your iPhone selfie camera will let you. Dip over to One Tree Hill for more decent photo ops but with less of the people before heading down to Greenwich Market and the pub.
The Gypsy Moth is nice but often busy so we’d head to the Trafalgar Tavern for a naughty-cal bev (it's nautical themed).
Parkland Railway Walk: Ally Pally to Finsbury Park
Apparently this North London trail follows a long-disused railway, which might be of interest to you if you like trains or boring facts. Either way, it’s a lovely walk full of nature that really makes you feel like you’ve made it out of London. We like to start at the Ally Pally end and finish up at the Faltering Fullback, partly because we’re all about that downhill lyf, and partly because we’re all about the Fullback.
No round-up of walks would be complete without South West London's crown jewel. Richmond Park is in a league (and postcode) of its own with vast expanses of green, a beautiful secret plantation and literal hordes of roaming wild deer. There are all kinds of routes you can take but we'd say just go for it and aim to end up at The Roebuck.