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…
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..."
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
WATERLOO I MODERATE I 7.7m/12.4km
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
ISLAND GARDENS I EASY I 5.5m/8.8km
The sister walk to Route 5.
Follow the north bank’s Thames Path all the way from the Isle of Dogs to the City through a random procession of history and eccentricity…
As Winter turns to Spring…
The Saxons used to call the first part of the year ‘the mud months’. They would know. Ignoring their wise counsel, I recently attempted a walk in Kent which left me marooned in a lake of shin-deep mud. Horrible. As I’ve written elsewhere, there is nothing, to me, that is glorious about mud. In the local pub the bar staff were baffled that I had even attempted the walk, observing, “Actually, it’s best to drive here…”
But then gradually the paths, parks, fields and woods begin to beckon again as the first inklings of spring emerge. But what is an inkling without the noticing? With a vaguely impressed incomprehension of scale, we can acknowledge the numerical possibility of a billion unfolding buds, but it’s in the noticing of just one that we stand a remote chance of wonder.
So, here are just a dozen fleeting images taken in passing. It was good to have a phone on which to snap these images, but I am grateful that somehow each one silently made its way through the white noise of my crowded thoughts to become an inkling, an intimation of something beautifully unnameable…
Get in touch with the changing seasons on your walks and join me for Notes of the Season below, as well as a recommended Walk of the Season…
Notes of the Season
“Deeply embedded in our country’s natural history, we are very lucky to have them; almost half of the world’s bluebells live here…”
The folk names for this much anticipated flower: Witches’ Thimbles, Lady’s Nightcap, Crow’s Toes and, my own favourite, Cuckoo’s Boots, give some indication of its being deeply embedded in our country’s natural history. We are very lucky to have them; almost half of the world’s bluebells live here.
Valued as one of a few species categorised as an Ancient Woodland Indicator (AWI) the presence of bluebells in a wood indicates that they and the wood will most likely have been there since at least 1600. They have a particular affinity with their big buddies, oak trees, curiously intertwining their subterranean lives… but more of that later… READ MORE>>
Walk of the Season
In the spotlight – Three London Parks
For times when we just don’t want to roam too far, this is a favourite walk which can be completed in just over two hours, or longer with leisurely coffee stops, picnics or pub lunches…
Sometimes, particularly after rain and mud, or if we’re just not that keen on walking in the countryside, we don’t want to stray too far. Easily reached by bus, tube and overground this route is designed for just such times and people. Taking in Regents Park, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath, this can be completed in just over two hours, or longer with leisurely coffee stops, picnics or pub lunches. Anxious urbanites can relax knowing that they are never far from a handcrafted sourdough sandwich.
Along the way, you will have two vaguely druidic encounters: at Primrose Hill and later via rumour and myth at Hampstead Heath. Cautionary note: while walking the Heath, I frequently spot those who have concluded that it’s a park, and therefore trainers will do. The Heath, except in the driest of weathers, is in many places a bog in disguise. Wear what guide leaders of yesteryear would call ‘stout footwear’– what I call ‘smug boots’ – in order to spot those trainer-people miserably squelching, ankle deep in muddy gloop.
One chilly Autumn day I was happily rained off on this walk. Happily, because there was an atmospheric pub in which ‘to seek shelter’ (which is a very poor euphemism, I know). In this instance, it was The Spaniards Inn, and in the company of a good friend and two wet Labradors. We were forced to wait for at least three slow pints and two plates of chips before the rain trailed away.
If in the mood to roam more widely around the Heath you can enjoy the glorious sensation of getting safely ‘lost’. If navigating for the first time, remember that the view over London from Parliament Hill is on the southside, Kenwood House is on the Heath’s farther north side and, way over to your right, the church spire high on the hill is Saint Michaels of Highgate. Keep these three beacons in mind; you will probably still get lost but you can at least pretend you know where you’re going.