Let’s be honest, the springtime weather has been very hit-and-miss. But the sunshine has finally arrived, and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. It’s the perfect time to venture out into the great outdoors, especially as we’re in the midst of bluebell season.
That’s why planning a lovely woodland walk is a perfect outdoorsy idea for the weekend. Birdsong, rustling leaves, bluebell-carpeted ground, blooming buttercups – ah yes! Let’s take a look at nine of the best woodland walks to take in London…
North London woodland walks
Queen’s Wood is one of four ancient woodlands in Haringey, sandwiched in between and Crouch End. It’s also just across the road from Highgate Wood. Fascinating fact: these woods are thought to be the direct descendants of the original ‘wildwood’, which covered most of Britain about 5,000 years ago. Expect your walk to be coloured with flowers such as wood anemone, native bluebells, wood goldilocks and wood sorrel.
Hampstead Heath Woods
Head to London’s iconic heath and get lost in the woods between Kenwood House and Hampstead Lane. Listen and look out for the all-singing and swooshing parakeets overhead. Then wander around the heath, up to Primrose Hill, to enjoy that infamous view of the cityscape.
South London woodland walks
Sydenham Hill Wood
This is the largest remaining part of what was once the Great North Wood. Wander around the remnants of old Victorian folly, or follow the tracks of the run-down Nunhead to Crystal Palace railway. You can also explore the 18th century path of Cox’s Walk, lined with ancient oaks.
Oxleas Wood is an ancient woodland area on the top of Shooter’s Hill in Greenwich. The woodland is quiet and peaceful, considering how close it is to central London. At the top of the hill is Severndroog Castle, a folly with fantastic views over London.
West London woodland walks
For those who live a bit further out west, Osterley Park is a huge Georgian estate in Hounslow. Operated by the National Trust, it has a spectacular mansion surrounded by gardens, a park and farmland and woodland. Expect to see bluebells on your exploration and listen out for cuckoos – last year, staff heard cuckoos calling there for the first time in 20 years.
Fancy spotting some wild deer? Richmond Park is famous for its wide grasslands, open waters and deer herds. The park, which is by far the largest of London’s Royal Parks, is also an important site for ancient trees, particularly oaks, which have great historic and wildlife importance.
Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve, Chiswick
Part of the London Wildlife Trust, Gunnersbury Triangle Nature Reserve is a wet woodland nature reserve that was saved from development in the early 80s, then enhanced with ponds and acid grassland areas. It’s alive with birds and small mammals, which take advantage of the sheltered birch and willow trees. Walkways and footpaths help guide visitors around Chiswick’s little woodland escape.
East London woodland walks
Tucked alongside the Lea Navigation canal is this small but perfectly formed peaceful woodland. It is a little haven of calm with a mixture of older, statuesque trees and younger woodland. Known for being a woodland rave spot in the past, we’re confident none of that will be happening right now.
Epping Forest (Chalet Wood)
Epping Forest is an ancient woodland and former royal hunting forest stretching 12 miles from London to Epping. It’s an expanse of mature native trees with more than 100 lakes and ponds among them. Walking routes are signposted through the area, and you should head to the Chalet Wood area to spot the bluebells.