The main impact of lockdown to our family has been what I call the pressure cooker effect : being together all the time, at some stage you feel you are just going to explode. And to avoid this, being able to go out of London for long walks in the countryside has been a blessing.
I am a big fan of long family walks and had already mentioned them in a previous WW article – do refer to it for the previous walk we did. Beware the iFootpath app is sadly not in existence anymore sadly, it has been merged into a much bigger app which is not great quality.
Our walking bible is still Christopher Sommerville’s “Walks in the Country Near London ”, we are currently using the latest (2012…) edition but also own the first (2002!!!) – and the walks are still quite accurate. Most walks are just outside the M25 perimeter and can be reached in less than an hour by car, especially if you choose the ones located North of London.
With four children between 9 and 14 year-old, we usually target circular walks of 10-15km length – 15km is our absolute maximum, as there is always a chance we get a bit lost and walk an extra 1 or 2km… We take a lunch with us ( always including an end-of-walk treat for the children), plenty of water carried by all family members, waterproof walking boots purchased at Decathlon (these ones for the girls, these ones and these ones for the boys and these ones for Mr WW) and off we go.
The recent walks we’ve done are:
- “Kelvedon, Goggeshall and Feering” (12km): very pleasant walk in the Essex countryside, going through several very picturesque villages, and with the added bonus of completely flat land.
- “Rocheford and Paglesham” (about 12km ): in Essex as well. We cut this one in half but the beginning is not pretty at all (and you cannot cross the rails anymore, which adds a big detour), so I would not recommend it.
- Henley -on-Thames, Greys Court and Rocherfeld Peppard” (13.5km): a bit further away but one of my favourites, most of it is in the Chilterns woodland – and in October the Autumn colours were stunning. Also one of our most tiring walks because of all the ups and downs.
- Harlingon, Bunyan Oak and Sharpenhoe Clappers (13km): very conveniently located right off the M1, it is also in the Chilterns Hills so quite a bit of woodland and ups and down - although a good half is more flat, countryside land. Very pleasant.
Closer to Wembley and not in the book:
- Stanmore Country Park is an incredible expense of greenery at a 3-minute walk from Stanmore tube station. The signposted walks are quite short (about 1 hour) but you can wander at will in the woodland, without ever feeling lost. There is also quite a striking view across London when there is not fog – i.e. not today!
- In Watford, we did the yellow circular walk on this map (about 6km), parking at the Grove Hotel. It goes through woodland and along the Grand Union Canal and is perfect if you do not want something too long – and you can always end it with lunch at the hotel!
What are your favourite walks? I am very keen for your suggestions as the winter is going to be… very… long…