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5 Best day hikes near London for Easter and spring

5 Best day hikes near London for Easter and spring

Carla Khouri from Merrell Hiking Club UK shares the best day hikes near London to explore over the Easter weekend and throughout the whole of spring

Escaping the noise, pollution and traffic of city life is important to reduce stress and rejuvenate from our hectic urban lifestyles. For those who live in London, you are lucky to have many places close to the city that offer amazing hikes that are easily accessible by public transport. Spring is a truly wonderful time to hike as it brings new growth with blossoms on trees, colourful flowers, lush green landscapes and hopefully better weather.

If you’re stuck for ideas and looking for like-minded people—check out Merrell Hiking Club, outdoor brand Merrell’s female-led hiking initiative—a digital platform and community which aims to bring representation, inclusivity, and accessibility to the hiking world. The club is hosting ten free guided hikes this year, with five of them happening within close proximity to Greater London. Join the UK Facebook group to stay in the loop and find out all the details of the club’s upcoming hikes. 

Here, Carla Khouri, a mountain leader, outdoor instructor and community manager at Merrell Hiking Club UK, looks at the five best day hikes near London.

Box Hill

With a variety of different waymarked walks, picturesque countryside views and abundant wildlife, there's something for everyone at Box Hill. The south of England is not renowned for its hills, but there are a few in this area that will provide a challenge for most hikers. The area is made up of farmland, woodland, chalk downland and riverside with wonderful views.

"The south of England is not renowned for its hills, but there are a few in this area that will provide a challenge for most hikers"

If the river is low enough and you're feeling adventurous, have a go at crossing the stepping stones over the River Mole. Getting from London to Box Hill from London is very easy. There are direct trains from London's Waterloo and Victoria stations (with a stop at Clapham Junction). Both of these trains are direct to Box Hill and Westhumble station and take just under an hour. You can combine your hike with a hearty lunch in one of the many country pubs in the area. 

Seven Sisters 

The Seven Sisters' white limestone cliffs are one of England's most iconic places to visit. The unique white cliffs, located in the South Downs National Park, offer a very unique hiking option that you can't find anywhere else in the world. Walkers can enjoy views of the English Channel on one side and the English countryside on the other side. Along the route, you'll get to enjoy beautiful views of the sea, as well as walk along grassland, see lighthouses and enjoy high views of Seaford and Eastbourne.

A range of distances can change the level of challenge from beginner-friendly to moderate. It's a good idea to take a picnic so you can enjoy lunch on the beach at Cuckmere Haven at the foot of the cliffs. You can start the walk from Seaford or Eastbourne, however, many believe it's best to start from Seaford as the views are best when you walk east. Both Seaford and Eastbourne are very convenient to get to from London. Regular trains depart from London Victoria that take around 1 hour and 30 minutes. 

If you’d like to try this one with a professional guide, Carla is offering a free guided tour with Merrell Hiking Club on April 29 to celebrate Earth Day—all sign up info will be available on Merrell Hiking Club’s Facebook page. 

Leigh-on-Sea

Leigh-on-Sea is a charming small seaside town that is full of character. One of my favourite walks to Leigh starts from Benfleet station and walks through Hadleigh Country Park, home to the 2012 Olympic mountain bike races. The route is waymarked and offers views across the Thames Estuary and out to the sea. If you want a bit more of a challenge, then you can head up the hill to visit the ruins of Hadleigh Castle. It’s highly recommended and the views from here are spectacular.

"Head up the hill to visit the ruins of Hadleigh Castle. It’s highly recommended and the views from here are spectacular"

Once you get to Leigh-on Sea, you can make the most of the tearooms, pubs and art galleries that dot around the old town or take a dip in the sea. You can either get the train back to London from Leigh or walk back to Benfleet via the coastal path. Benfleet is easily accessible from London by train. Direct trains go from London Liverpool Street Station.  

Chess Valley

The Chess Valley walk is a ten-mile linear walk through the Chilterns following the River Chess from Rickmansworth to Chesham. Both of these towns have stations that are served by the London Underground Metropolitan Line. The waymarked route passes through the beautiful scenery of the Chess Valley and several picturesque villages, and at times along the River Chess, one of the Chilterns' famed chalk streams.

Spring brings lots of wildlife to the river and the surrounding vegetation, so keep an eye out for birds, including the kingfisher, the endangered water vole, beautiful flowers and insects, such as dragonflies and butterflies. 

Epping Forest 

Epping Forest sits on a ridge between the valleys of the River Roding and the River Lee. It’s a beautiful ancient wood pasture, home to over 50,000 ancient trees and some of the oldest living plants in Europe. It’s the ideal location for city-dwellers seeking greenery and fresh air. It offers a variety of circular walking trails, which are all well sign-posted, simple to follow and start close to car parks and/or train stations.

"It’s a beautiful ancient wood pasture, home to over 50,000 ancient trees and some of the oldest living plants in Europe"

It is served well by the London underground—Loughton, Theydon Bois, Snaresbrook, Buckhurst Hill, Wanstead and Redbridge are all on the Central Line and within walking distance of the forest. You can also take the Overground to Chingford from London Liverpool Street. Spring is an excellent time to visit to see the flowering woodland plants that bloom before the full-tree canopy becomes too dense. 

If you’d like to try this one with a professional guide, Carla is offering a free guided tour with Merrell Hiking Club in May—all sign up info will be available on Merrell Hiking Club’s Facebook page. 

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