Reading Week Walks: Make time for regular study breaks and explore London on foot

One of the best ways to explore London and its surroundings is on foot. Since reading week is coming up for our Master’s students, we’ve put together some of our favourite walking routes for exploring London. From urban strolls to wild wanderings, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy, so make sure you take regular breaks from studying and get outside!

London Landmarks

Start: Westminster station, End: Tower Hill station

This classic central London route takes you on a five-mile stroll past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Starting at Big Ben, wander over Westminster Bridge for a brilliant view of the Houses of Parliament from the south side of the River Thames. Saunter along the South Bank, taking in the colourful street performers and global food stalls – perhaps pausing for a ride on the famous London Eye. Once you’ve taken in all the art you can handle at the Tate Modern and admired Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, cross over the Millennium Bridge and experience St. Paul’s Cathedral up close. Make your way back across the river at Southwark Bridge for a city view from a different angle, and if you’re hungry, try the free samples and gourmet delicacies of Borough Market. Wind up with a visit to the 900-year-old Tower of London, via Tower Bridge, and a well-deserved drink at St. Katherine Docks – we recommend the characterful Dickens Inn.
Full route map

Marshes & Meadows

Start: Tottenham Hale station, End: Rectory Road station

This nature walk makes you feel like you’re far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, without leaving Zone 3. Begin by taking the Victoria Line to Tottenham Hale and following River Lea down past wildlife reserves bursting with life: meadows, trees, reservoirs and a whole host of birds can all be found here. Go off-piste at Walthamstow Marshes and wander the footpaths, or stick to the river path and admire the narrowboats chugging lazily past. When you come to Springfield Park, make your way to The Crooked Billet at Clapton where you can find some great pub grub at a reasonable price.
Full route map

Best of the West

Start: Ladbroke Grove station, End: Marble Arch station

This route takes you past some of west London’s top features. Start at Portobello Road and its famous antiques market, where you can also recreate scenes from Notting Hill outside the bookshop that inspired the film. Continue towards Holland Park, pausing in the tranquil Kyoto Gardens and trying to spot the park’s resident peacocks, before checking out an exhibition at the Design Museum.

Then stroll down High Street Kensington, taking a worthwhile detour down Exhibition Road – the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum can all be found along here, so you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to exhibits. Once you’re ready for some fresh air head north into Hyde Park, the largest Royal Park in London, where you can ride a pedalo on the Serpentine lake, watch hobbyists performing everything from salsa dancing to disco roller-blading, or just chill on one of the many lawns. Don’t forget to stop and admire the Royal Albert Hall on your way.
Full route map

The East End Market Trail

Start: Liverpool Street station, End: Cambridge Health/Mile End station

Explore the urban landscape on this three-mile tour of one of London’s most vibrant areas. Starting from trendy Shoreditch, make your way through Old Spitalfields Market where you’ll find arts, crafts and more in the restored Victorian buildings. Next, meander down Brick Lane with its independent vintage shops, leather goods and quirky cafés. Grab a bagel from one of the famous shops (we like the salt beef and pickle), pick up a retro bargain and head to the Nomadic Garden, a community initiative transformed by volunteers into allotments and art studios. If you haven’t seen enough flora and fauna yet, then check out Columbia Flower Market and haggle for a houseplant to brighten up your room, or visit nearby Hackney City Farm where you can see animals up close and experience the countryside in the heart of the city. Make your way north and cross the canal at Broadway Market, where you can browse bookshops and gift stalls, or get a coffee to enjoy canal-side. Finally, follow the leafy canal tow-path to Victoria Park, finishing at the Pavilion Café with its boating lake views. Well done, you made it!­­
Full route map

Epic Epping Forest

Start & End: Chingford station

Did you know you can venture to nearly 6,000-acres of ancient woodland with only a 40-minute Tube journey from central London? So pack a backpack of your favourite snacks, bring some friends and get ready to breathe in the fresh air in the magnificent Epping Forest! Our suggestion for a six-mile circular route is to start at Chingford, at the top of the London Overground, and follow the woodland path through Chingford Plain to Connaught Water, delving deep into the forest and passing tea huts, rope swings, a visitor centre and brook along the way. But there are plenty of other routes you can take of varying lengths which cover different parts of the forest so be sure to check out the Epping Forest website for trails and maps.
Full route map

 

The Southern Explorer

Start: Brixton station, End: Forest Hill station

Peaceful parks and multicultural foodie spots line this four-mile hike which takes you up and down through some of the most scenic parts of south London. You’ll need some energy for this one so start with a good brunch at Brixton Village – there are lots of options but we love Station 26, which has an entirely gluten-free menu. This multicultural area also has plenty of quirky shops, bars, live music and an old-fashioned cinema. Once you’ve finished eating and exploring, head up Railton Road towards Herne Hill, a pretty village-like area with a lovely Sunday farmer’s market selling everything from vegan food to antique maps to pottery to baby clothes. Across the street is Brockwell Park – home to an open-air lido swimming pool (some say cold, we say invigorating) a miniature railway and fantastic cityscapes. Head west towards pretty and leafy Dulwich Park and the Picture Gallery which sits on its west side. From there, it’s just a short walk to the Horniman, a free hilltop museum complete with an aquarium, musical instruments and a butterfly house. There’s a great view from the gardens, too. After all that you’ll be ready for another snack, so settle in for some tea and cake at a cosy café in Forest Hill.
Full route map

We hope you enjoy exploring London – why not share snaps of the routes you completed in the student Facebook group?

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