I love adventures! That’s why I was thrilled to recently partner with the fine people at Nevisport to do a series of blog posts about hiking and trail running around London. As someone who predominantly runs on city streets and pavement, this first blog post was a welcome incentive to take a break from my beloved Regent’s Canal and check out some new places. I’ve spent the last several weeks investigating a few excellent spots to immerse yourself in green. And, with a new pair of Salomon hiking shoes courtesy of Nevisport, I was well prepared for my adventures.
First off: the criteria:
- Must be easily accessible by transit
- Within 2 hours journey from central London
- No mountains or technical climbing
#1: Seven Sisters
This is my hands-down favourite place for a long hike so it gets the prestigious number one spot in this post. You can hike all 13.8 miles of the stunning southeast coastline from Eastbourne to Seaford, or the other way around. I loved this hike so much, I did it three times! I also even convinced my sister-in-law to do it while she was visiting a few weeks ago.
The famous white cliffs offer stunning views, even in the rain. While there’s long expanses of green, there’s also a few opportune places to stop for a wee. There’s also a couple lovely pubs along the way for a well-deserved pint or Sunday roast.
The weather on this hike can fluctuate wildly, so make sure you dress in layers and have some well-worn hiking boots or shoes. Also, bring a backpack full of snacks so you can plop down somewhere for a little impromptu picnic and take in the sites. It is well worth the 1.5 hour train ride to get there.
#2: Hamstead Heath
A little closer to home, you can wander around the lovely greenery of Hamstead Heath. I think Londoners often forget that (almost!) right in central London, there is more than 320 hectares of wild, beautiful parkland.
You can certainly mosey around at a leisurely pace and take in people flying kites, picnicking or walking dogs. Or, you can be like me and attempt to run up a hill, which to be fair, didn’t look that steep when I started. I was totally winded for 5 minutes after this, but people were watching so I had to maintain some dignity!
#3: Box Hill Circular
Box Hill poses a great challenge for cyclists, runners and hikers. Just a short train ride away, I’m always surprised how quick it feels like you’re hundreds of miles away from London. With rolling hills and convenient pubs dotted along the way, it’s the perfect place to soak up some nature and grab a pint after a tough workout. The first time I ever went here, I was trying out my new clipless pedals on my road bike and fell over in the train station parking lot in front of a bunch of experienced-looking cyclists. My ego is still bruised, but I’ll definitely come back here for a hike one day.
#4: Richmond Park
What an absolute beauty! We are so lucky in London to be surrounded by beautiful, expansive parks! Richmond Park is definitely one of the most beautiful and it’s full of deer! DEER! Built as a deer park in the 17th century, these majestic creatures still freely roam the grounds. The first time I saw one, I was as excited as if I had spotted a unicorn.
The outer circular is a great path to run, extending nearly 10 miles around. There are shorter routes too like the circular walk that takes you through some of the prime deer-sighting spots.
Hiking is so much better when you have the right gear. After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2015, I am well aware how being ill-prepared can make or break your experience. If you’re looking for some great outdoor kit for your next adventure, check out the selection on the Nevisport website. Also, stay tuned for a shoe review of my new Salomon hiking shoes. I’ll share all the details once they are worked in and covered in mud.