Find out about the most beautiful and free green spaces to explore so you can take a breath outside of your London life.
88% of adults living in cities across the UK believe that nature is important to them, with 89% enjoying spending time in natural spaces, and 90% feeling relaxed surrounded by nature. 79% want to see more nature in their cities, and 80% feel they don’t spend enough time in nature.
Nature can help you to benefit from enhanced physical and mental health, and if you’re living in London, you might feel a little bit starved of the nature you need. Sure, houseplants and urban balcony gardens are amazing, and some of the parks in London are lovely. But maybe you need more, and it’s time to explore further afield. Luckily, there are some incredible green spaces to enjoy just outside of London. You can benefit from some fantastic ecotherapy without travelling across the country. It’s time to dose up on natural dopamine with these free green spaces to enjoy just outside of London:
The Surrey Hills is an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it spans around a quarter of the county. It has a huge amount of walks to enjoy, all with accessible footpaths and trails that are easy to navigate. From woodlands, to grasslands and famous beauty spots Devils Punch Bowl, Leith Hill and Box Hill, you won’t find it hard to get your nature fix here. You can get here in less than an hour from Waterloo.
Kent Downs is known for the white cliffs of Dover, which is more than enough of a reason to visit the area for some nature therapy. Here, you can also enjoy lots of cycling routes, so grab your bike from local self storage and take it with you, to extend your adventure far beyond walking routes. You can enjoy the Medway Gap, Great Stour Way, Perry Woods – there is so much to explore, all just under an hour and a half on the train from London Bridge.
The North Wessex Downs is huge and spans across Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire and is the third biggest Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England. You can see the famous White Horse here, and can explore many rolling hills, lush countryside walks and cosy pubs. You can reach various parts of the area by train, with stations including Overton and Whitchurch, Andover, Basingstoke and Reading. You can get there in about an hour or so from Clapham Junction or London Waterloo.
The Chilterns span across Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. It is an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty with masses to explore and enjoy, for free. You can take your pick of countryside walks, as well as very cosy pubs to enjoy a drink and some food in after you’ve spent the day rambling. You can also get there in less than an hour on the train from Marylebone.
High Weald is an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty spans across Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. It has all kinds of beautiful, natural environments including woodlands, expansive parks, cute crooked lanes and sandstone crags and hills. It is most well known for being a mediaeval landscape that has events on throughout the year. You can get here in under an hour on the train from London Bridge.
Dedham Vale is a picturesque area around the River Stour, and includes the village of Dedham. It is a really good choice if you are a bit of an artist, or a lover of the arts. It is known as Constable Country, and has a lot of beautiful scenes you could paint if you take your art supplies with you. Although the area is visited all year round, it really does pack the most visual punch in Summer. You can easily reach Dedham Vale by catching a train for about sixty minutes from London and then grabbing a taxi, or cycling from there.
If you love animals you will love The New Forest, which has lots of free roaming farm animals across the park. There are also areas with rare plant types, butterflies, birds and deer. You can easily spend a lot of time exploring The New Forest, which many people do by cycling. You can grab a train from London Waterloo and it will take about 90 minutes to get you to The New Forest. Alternatively you can drive there but it will take about two and a half hours.
Norfolk Broads is a great choice for nature lovers because it has all kinds of trails boasting historic buildings, ruins and various scenic views. If you do have a penny or two to spare, you can also enjoy Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens or Hippodrome Circus which offer a range of family-friendly thrills, attractions and activities to enjoy. Is it just outside of London? No, it takes around three hours on the train. But, it is totally doable as a day trip if you don’t mind an early start, and is especially great as a nature-based weekend escape if you have the money for accommodation.
Camber Sands is in East Sussex and you can get there in as little as 90 minutes (train and bus). There’s so much beautiful coastline to explore, as well as beachfront shops and amenities. You can also explore Camber Castle if you’re a lover of history, which can be explored from the outside for free.
The different options above are just a small percentage of the green spaces you can visit as a London resident. Whether you want to meander by a river, or amble up a hill, there are so many places for you to explore, and get breathing space from the hustle and bustle of the capital.