If you’re a city-goer, visitor to the capital, or simply passing through, it won’t have escaped your notice that from time to time, London can get a little … how shall I put it? Hectic? Yes, maybe hectic is the best choice of word.
The capital city is huge, booming, bustling and busy, and most of us need an occasional break from the frenetic pace of life, to head into the countryside and breathe in some fresh, smog-free air. Don’t you agree?
There are several walking areas around the capital, usually a short distance away by car, train or bus, which will allow you to not only fill your lungs with plenty of that pollution-free air, but also get a healthy dose of exercise along the way.
Hastings Circular, East Sussex
If you want to catch a glimpse of the sea, this is a perfect choice. It is a fairly comfortable track while being a mildly testing 5.9 miles in length. Starting at Hastings, you will head past the seafront at Rock A-Nore, through Hastings Country Park, and past Hastings Castle, with plenty of cafes along the way for a refreshment stop. The Hastings circular is easy to get to from London by train, taking around an hour and a half, which turns out to be the perfect amount of time to relax and recuperate after your exertions.
Saunderton Circular, Buckinghamshire
Around 10 miles in length, if you get a move on you should be able to complete this circular route in around 5 hours. Easily reached again by train from London, and the journey there only takes just under an hour. You will pass through the Chilterns, through to Hughenden Manor, Downley Common, West Wycombe, and visit Hellfire Caves. You then walk back to Saunderton. Very scenic and historic.
Guildford to Chilworth, Surrey
If you’re not really wanting to test your serious walking metal, this is a good choice, at only 4 miles in distance and about 2 hours to complete. Easy! Catch the train to Guildford (under 1.5 hours) or drive from London in just over half an hour. On the walk you will pass through the scenic North Downs, past Guildford Castle and the beautiful Pewley Down, and follow the historic and ancient Pilgrim’s Way, before arriving in Chilworth. Trains back to London from here are plentiful. If you parked your car at Guildford get back to it by catching the train or one of the buses that runs between the two villages.
Seaford to Eastbourne, East Sussex
Another long walk for sea lovers, this particular trail is just over 13 miles long. It will take you a massive 12 hours or so to complete it if you do it in one go ! Maybe cut it in half and stay in a B&B for the night, the perfect weekend away from the city. This particular walk is worth the effort however, as it is widely thought to be one of the best coastal walks in the country. You will catch glimpses of the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, which everyone has heard of. Eastbourne will be your final destination, a true seaside classic. Take your time and and savour the dramatic coastal dramatic scenery, while ensuring you enjoy plenty of pit-stops along the way for drinks and the odd ice cream.
Getting out of the hustle and bustle of London has never been easier, and whilst you will need to don a comfortable pair of walking shoes to truly take advantage of the beautiful English countryside, you certainly won’t be disappointed by what you see.