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Head Out

Escapes on your doorstep
from anywhere in London by public transport

Log Off – Head Out

Access the outdoors, in London and beyond, from your doorstep

Keen walker, reluctant rambler or just need to get outside, somewhere… anywhere?

This website is for anyone living in or around London who might need a mind clearing, spirit restorative escape route or two. No droning history lectures or improving nature guides – nothing to learn apart from that which catches your free-wandering mind.  Here you might find stories, idiosyncratic observations, curated curiosities and ‘mind noodling’ about anything rambly in the wide, and occasionally narrow, blue yonder.

And then there are the routes… 

Each route has:

  • An easy step by step navigation guide
  • Essential feature guides, pointing out stories and features of note
  • For the out of London routes there is an additional printable map

So, here’s what to do:

  • Pick a route
  • Print off the step by step navigation guide (‘Print-Friendly’ tab on the right beneath the header of each walk) and, if going out of town, the map
  • Pack up and go

 Log off, Head out – you know you want to…

Walking – ‘Just Say No’

8 reasons why you should never go for a walk…

In Search of the Contemplation Tree

The lone, unfrequented tree provides focus, appreciation and reflection while we pass them deep inside our own private ‘train of thought’…

Forgive us Our Trespassing

As a small child I was metaphorically transfixed by an image inside the doorway of Worthing Museum: a roughly painted scene – a moonlit night, dark scudding clouds, a ragged poacher writhing in agony as the jaws of a mantrap clamped his leg. I needed no further instruction in the principles of land ownership: That land wasn’t made for you or me…

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – err… why not?

Some musings on the politics of solo walks and how Billy and Betty No Mates are onto something maybe…

10 Walks in and out of London

Lucky you. I’ve walked several thousand miles of footpaths and city streets to distil out a choice selection of rambles for everyone to enjoy. There is no way of knowing whether a walk is worth doing except by walking the route every step of the way; a lot of terrible walks, dull vistas, and frankly boring trudges have been endured and discarded. Lucky me, I love walking and being outside so it’s all been worth it. I hope you can find the time to explore a route or two.

"Everywhere is within walking distance if you create the time..."

Princes Risborough to Wendover - LOHO Walk

No 1 : Princes Risborough to Wendover

ST MARYLEBONE I MODERATE I 6.8m/11km

Leaving habitation behind you, spend the day following one of Britain’s most ancient trackways dating back 5000 years, possibly much further...

Home Park and The Long Water

No 2 : Hampton Court to Richmond

WATERLOO/VAUXHALL I EASY/MODERATE I 7.8m/12.5k

A favourite walk bookended by the imposing Hampton Court Palace and the bare remains of Richmond Palace, along the Thames path and through diverse parks and meadows...

Primrose Hill

No 3 : Three London Parks

REGENT'S PARK I EASY I 5.6m/9k

Easy walking, people-watching in the parks, and chi-chi 'villages' ending on the splendid views and rambling of Hampstead Heath...

Newington Green Terraces

No 4 : Newington Green to Smithfield

CANONBURY I EASY I 3m/4.8k

An idiosyncratic trail of visual and historical curiosities taking in radicals, rebels and assorted contrarians along the way...

Dr Salter's Daydream

No 5 : London Bridge to Greenwich

LONDON BRIDGE I EASY/MODERATE I 5.6m/9k

A real treat for the soul, spending an entire walk following the course of the River Thames from the heart of the old City...

Otford Village

No 6 : Eynsford to Otford

VICTORIA/CHARING CROSS/BLACKFRIARS
I EASY/MODERATE I 6.8m/11km

A perennial favourite to introduce self-identifying 'non-walkers'. Stunning views of the length of the Darenth Valley,  an impressive Roman Villa, a 'castle', a 'palace' and three typically Kentish villages...

Otford Village

No 7 : Eynsford Circular via Shoreham

VICTORIA/CHARING CROSS/BLACKFRIARS
I MODERATE I 8.2 - 9.1m/13.3 - 14.8km

A longer cousin of Walk No. 6, this route follows the lovely Darenth Valley on its western slopes and returns along the valley bottom. A landscape of hills, open views and a riverine return with a choice of picnic, pub or vineyard for the lunch stop...

Meopham Green and Windmill

No 8 : Sole Street Circular

VICTORIA/ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL
I MODERATE I 8.8m/14.2km

Continuously undulating chalk hills and farmland welcome you with vineyards and gorgeous valley views, including a welcome and timely lunch stop at a splendid Kentish scene of a windmill and pub overlooking the local cricket pitch...

 

Meopham Green and Windmill

No 9 : Guildford St Martha's Church Circular

WATERLOO  I  MODERATE  I  7.3m/11.7km

Along the meandering River Wey via an old watermill to an ascent along ancient pilgrim paths under open skies and woodland, tracking the North Downs Way and the Pilgrims' Way, including an aerobic climb to the perfectly located St Martha’s Chapel for a rest and lunch...

 

No 10 : Greenwich to London Bridge via Limehouse & Wapping

COMING SOON...

Notes of the Season

Spring/Summer 2022

The Oak, the Jay and the Acorn

“Deep, southern and hairless, or shallow, norther and hairy?”

This potentially divisive regional observation was coined to help us ‘oak know-nothings’ distinguish between our two native varieties by looking at their acorns.

There’s no need to swat this up unless you want to though it would be great if we just looked just a little longer and closer at any oak.
…Or “Ac…” as the Saxons would have said. Their word for the oak is buried deep and wide in our language centuries long after many of their forests vanished beneath our streets and homes. From Gospel Oak to Honor Oak the oak tree is embedded not only in our city life but deep in our culture – as in Acton and (quite possibly some contest) Hackney,

The Celtic word for Oak is Duir from which we get the word Druid. The Druidic world believed the oak was the source of strength and energy and later folklore intimated that to catch a falling oak leaf brought good luck and prosperity.   READ MORE>>

Walk of the Season

Spring/Summer 2022

In the spotlight – Hampton Court to Richmond

Meopham Green and Windmill
Hampton Court Palace
Home Park and The Long Water

This is my most walked of walks; the walk I turn to more than any other for all the right reasons (riverside breezes, historical tales, wide open skies) and a few of the ‘wrong’ ones (convenience, no hills and an excellent pub)…

A quick TravelCard trip to the Tudor show piece, Hampton Court, and in moments you are gazing across the wide relaxing Thames, still sleepy from its meandering route from Oxford. Following the river with a soul relieving diversionary stroll through Hampton Court Park, then crossing Kingston Bridge and onto the glorious dilemma of which pub to choose at Teddington lock – the bustling variety of The Anglers or the intimacy of bijou The Tides End next door?

And then on, with the option of roaming across a semi-wild meadow at Ham Lands, and later views of Richmond Hill with the civilised pleasures of riverside Richmond town.

As well as being book-ended by Hampton Court and the poignant ragged remains of Richmond Palace, don’t forget to look out in the Highlights section for tales of aristocratic intrigue by two remarkable women.

Seasonal Miscellany

Spring/Summer 2022

Take One Tree

Now is the perfect time of year to pick a tree, any tree, that you pass regularly and make it ‘your tree’.

Notice its slow metamorphosis from its stark winter sculptural pose to a softer profile as it gains its spring and summer greening. Check it out throughout the year and, if you can get close, see how the buds and leaves are developing in strange and mysterious ways. And, later, what fruit? What seeds?

Rise and Fall of the Swift

Don’t forget to catch the swifts as they return at the end of April. Take a look at the article In Praise of the Swift and note that as of 2022 the RSPB has put this beautiful bird on the endangered species list due to its massive decline. Work is underway to address this in those countries which provide the thousands of kilometres migratory pathways between here and its ‘winter’ home in Africa.

Meanwhile, if you’ve ever wondered how a fledgling swift can tumble out of its nest and fly so beautifully and seemingly effortlessly (and why wouldn’t you?) it’s because in between feeds, whilst huddled in their nests, the fledglings use their wings to do ‘press ups’, raising their tiny bodies up and down to create the essential strength for that all important, and potentially perilous, maiden flight.

Hail to the swift.

Pagan Ways in the Heart of London

For over a decade now I’ve collated a photographic record of a small hidden shrine secreted within woodland on Hampstead Heath. Barely a metre across and despite wind, rain or the unwitting ‘tidying up’ by the park rangers, this collection of trinkets, leaves twigs, stones, the odd photograph or poem has become a place of pilgrimage for those that know about it.

Changing from month to month, sometimes it’s a scruffy mess while at others it has been carefully and lovingly rearranged. Being tucked away from the main paths, only once have I ever encountered another person there: a young Japanese woman standing in quiet contemplation. Daring to break the silence that the secluded spot seems to impose, I said that I found the collection quite mysterious. Clearly taking me for a fool, she asserted with a matter of fact certainty, “It’s a shrine…obviously”.

Of course, she was right.