— Poppy Loves London (@poppy_loves) December 20, 2013
Poppy Loves: country walks in London – 5 favourite places to go rural in the big city
For a huge, bustling city, London has an amazing amount of green space. We’ve invited top lifestyle blogger Poppy Loves to share her favourite ‘country’ walks in the capital…
London is a city that constantly surprises me. There are parts of town that spin so fast that I feel like my feet aren’t quite touching the ground – shops for shopping in and cafes for catching up with dear ones. There are busy bee streets and explosions of colour, smell and culture around the most unlikely of corners and sometimes I feel when I’m heading to bed in the evening, that my senses have yet again been challenged and ask myself how will I possibly be able to remember all the things I saw today…
I love London for this. But what I love even more is how the city balances itself with its peaceful, green treasures. Calm spots for strolling and peaceful nooks for reading. I love getting out and walking in nature, and the fact that I don’t have to leave my city to find exquisite and beautiful scenery makes me fall in love with London all the more.
Here are my top five country walks in London. So now you can go and get your bumpkin on.
1. Hampstead Heath
Daffodils on Hampstead Heath. Photo: Laura Nolte
I’ve been escaping to Hampstead Heath for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the most peaceful and serene parts of the city, with a wonderful warm community at the heart of it too. Sunday strolls, delicious breakfasts in Kenwood House, and pub lunches to get giddy over at The Spaniard’s Inn or The Holly Bush.
The heath is a piece of magic in London and you can’t quite believe it exists. Why not do a spot of kite flying on Parliament Hill, or take a dip in the ponds while you’re there – you’ll be ever so glad you did.
2. Parkland Walk
Photo: Peter O’Connor
I lived in Finsbury Park for a while and I had no idea that this incredible place existed. The Parkland Walk follows the course of the old railway that ran between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace and runs for four and a half miles… it’s a tranquil secret. It also makes for the perfect weekend stroll into Crouch End, for a piece of lemon drizzle at The Haberdashery. See you there.
3. Richmond Park
Photo: The Royal Parks
Strangely, I have met several Londoners who have never been to Richmond Park. And each time I meet one, I grab them (scary Poppy) and demand answers. WHY?! It’s the most beautiful, intoxicating and glorious park, with some of the most spectacular wildlife you’d ever hope to find in a city – there are 630 Red and Fallow deer, which have been roaming freely since 1637. (They’re really old).
4. Little Venice
Photo: Julian Nitzshe
This is another little treasure that I still can’t quite believe exists in such a bustling city. Follow the canal from Paddington round to Westbourne Park and you’ll be treated to a plethora of pretty canal boats, decked out with flowers and all kinds of sparkles… And if you take your stroll early evening, you’ll smell the wood burners kicking in and some early supper being cooked on deck. Glorious.
5. Epping Forest
Epping Forest is enormous. It is 6000 acres of gorgeousness, with lakes, wildlife, wide open bits for picnicking and forestry bits for bear/fairy hunting. Go and get lost in London’s forest and explore all the beautiful corners… last time I went I bumped into a few cows, which were a surprise. They were extremely friendly and pointed me in the direction of a very pretty lake, where I watched a swan teach her new cygnets to swim… total heaven.