The best walks in London this spring
Savour the sunshine between April showers with our guide to the best spring strolls in London
Here are our favourite walks in London for this spring.
Where: Regent's Park
Sakura season is well under way in Japan, but you don't need to go to Tokyo to see cherry blossom this spring. One of the finest displays in London is in Regent's Park, which has some stunning clusters of the pretty pink petals. One of the best for early blossoms is the grove at the south end of Avenue Gardens, which should be in full flower for the Easter weekend (unless we get another cold snap). Regent's Park is one of the loveliest green spaces in central London and a fabulous picnic spot if the weather stays fine.
Getting there: Bakerloo Line to Regent's Park
Flask to Flask
Where: Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath is hands down our favourite green space in central London. It's one of the few parks in the capital where you can get truly lost, almost forgetting that you're in London at all. So it's a happy coincidence that two of the best historic local pubs in North London share the same name, and happen to sit on either side of the heath: this walk is one the best ways to cross an old favourite. The Flask in Highgate dates back to 1663 and is a famous old haunt of Highgate celebs like Kate Moss. After a light lunch head out over the heath, passing by the superb views at the top of Parliament Hill and Kenwood House (of Notting Hill fame) down into Hampstead village to the pretty pedestrianised Flask Walk, where the Flask in Hampstead awaits.
Getting there: Northern Line to Highgate
Where: Chiswick House and Gardens
A little taste of northern Italy in the depths of West London, Chiswick House is one of the best examples of a Palladian style villa in the capital. Built by Lord Burlington, it also has one of the finest English 'natural' landscaped gardens in the city. Designed by William Kent, the gardens include numerous wooded vistas and water features, such as the famous cascade waterfall dating to 1738. There's also a kitchen garden and a conservatory housing a renowned collection of rare camellias. It's perfect for the kids too, given there's an adventure playground in the south gardens. Make sure to take a pit stop at the stunning modern cafe, which was designed by award-winning architects Caruso St.John.
Getting there: District Line to Turnham Green
Where: Alexandra Palace Park and Gardens
Famous for having some of the best panoramic views across London, Alexandra Palace Gardens are over 150 years old, having originally been designed by renowned landscape architect Alexander McKenzie. This was a true Victorian leisure park in its heyday, and continues to be a delight for locals and tourists alike. On a clear day you can see as far as the Crystal Palace TV tower south of the river. Take a stroll about the park with its various outdoor eateries and Sunday farmer's market, before trying your hand as an oarsman on the boating lake. There's nothing better on a sunny Sunday than messing about in boats.
Getting there: Piccadilly Line to Wood Green or Victoria Line to Finsbury Park
Where: Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park
Richmond Park is famously one of the wildest places in London, with its roaming deer and vast meadows. But hidden in the middle of it all is a very colourful treat. The Isabella Plantation consists of over 40 acres of woodland right in the centre of the park, and was first planted in the 1830s, though not open to the public until 1953. While it contains many rare blooms and trees, it is most famous for its amazing evergreen azaleas which erupt in cascading shades of pink. Introduced originally from Japan, these flowers are at their very peak in April and May, so catch them early.
Getting there: District Line or National Rail to Richmond
Discover London's only commercial vineyard
Where: Forty Hall House and Vineyard
Hidden on the Forty Hall Estate farm in north London is a 10-acre organic vineyard. Producing both still and sparkling English wines, it's the first commercial vineyard operating in London since medieval times. It's part of the winder community-run Forty Hall Farm that encourages the growing of organic fruit and vegetables in the city. The farm is open on Easter Friday and Saturday from 11am to 4pm, and entry is £2. After a wander among the young vines you can also check out the gorgeous 17th-century Forty Hall as well as its pretty landscaped gardens.
Getting there: Overground to Enfield Town, Enfield Chase or Southbury then 191 Bus to Forty Hill
Coming up roses
Where: Morden Hall Park
This National Trust-owned deer park is one of the few surviving historic estates on the River Wandle in South London. With the river running through the centre of the gardens, it's a great place to get lost amidst the old snuff mills and meadows. There's even a lovely little secondhand book shop if you fancy a break for retail therapy. It's also famous for its rose garden, recently restored to near its original 1920s appearance, which is cultivated according to organic principles. It might be a little early in the season for roses, but when they raise their heads, be prepared for a stunning display that lasts throughout the summer.
Getting there: Northern Line to Morden and walk, or District Line to Wimbledon then tram to Phipps Bridge
Tree-lined trail near the end of the line
Where: Lime Trail, Epping Forest
Way out towards the eastern end of the Central Line, Epping Forest is a treasure trove for weekend walking ideas. The Lime Trail is particularly brilliant as an easy 30-minute loop around Bush Wood Flats, which makes it a very family friendly afternoon activity. Nestled at the southernmost part of Epping Forest near Leytonstone, the walk follows easy well-maintained paths and meanders around pretty woodland, including some amazing 300-year-old sweet chestnut trees.
Getting there: Central Line to Leytonstone
Downhill all the way
Where: Blackheath to Greenwich
The view over Canary Wharf from the top of Greenwich Park is instantly recognisable and on a sunny day, one of the loveliest in London with the old Royal Naval College looming in the foreground. If you're looking for a less taxing stroll after a heavy Easter weekend, then the entirely downhill route from Blackheath to Greenwich is perfect. Blackheath feels like a little village cut off from the metropolis, and as you cross the heath and through the gates to Greenwich Park the wide views open out through tree-lined paths. If you're a history buff, the Royal Observatory is a fabulous place to stop and swat up on the history of longitude, or alternatively relax over a cup of tea in the classically British Pavilion Cafe. Down in Greenwich there are plenty of lovely little cafes and pubs to wile away at the rest of the afternoon. You can even take the Thames Clipper boat back into central London as the sun sets.
Getting there: National Rail from Charing Cross or London Bridge to Blackheath
By Megan Atkinson