Trail Blazing

Like many great cities, London's glittering beauty is best regarded on foot and at a speed permitting observation and discovery. Homes & London have put together four walks that skirt the tourist hubbub of central London and offer the urban walker a genuine breath of fresh air. In keeping with the theme of heat, each walk includes a good pub with a real fire to warm those winter fingers and toes.

Photography Jon Stevens

Words Rebecca Hattersley


Start: Richmond underground station
End: Queen's Road

Exit Richmond Station and walk left along The Quadrant and George Street. Cross the road and head down Brewers Lane to Richmond Green. Lap the perimeter along The Green, Portland Terrace and Pembroke Villas. Take a right along Old Palace Lane, past a row of quaint Regency cottages and The White Swan pub. Exit onto Riverside and turn left. Enjoy a short walk along the towpath, flanked by bars and restaurants. Walk under the bridge and continue until you reach the entrance to Terrace Gardens on your left. Enter the gardens and admire the herbaceous borders, roses, and wild green parrots in the treetops. Wind up through the gardens and exit onto Richmond Hill. Continue right and towards Richmond Park.

Detour: A crisp and chilly morning is the perfect time to see red and fallow deer in Richmond Park. The park boasts spectacular views across London, with the pastoral landscape a welcome respite from the crowds..

Take a left onto Queen's Road and complete your walk with a visit to Lass O' Richmond Hill, a relaxed pub with a cosy fire and serving a fantastic Sunday roast.

Bookish Bloomsbury

Start: Chancery Lane underground station
End: Russell Square underground station

Walk along Gray's Inn Road, with Gray's Inn Gardens to your left. Bea's of Bloomsbury on Theobalds Road is an ideal spot for afternoon tea. Turn right onto Lamb's Conduit Street, a partially pedestrianised street with a wealth of fine shops. Persephone Books champions forgotten female authors, J Crew and Folk stock luxurious fashions and Ben Pentreath on Rugby Street sells beautiful things for the home. Rugby Street is where Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes spent their wedding night in 1956. At the bottom of Lamb's Conduit Street is The Lamb, a traditional public house serving excellent British meals and where Charles Dickens is reputed to have frequented. The etched glass snob screens are still in place above the bar. However, if it is heat you are after, The Duke on Roger Street (two streets over) is an Art Deco corner pub with wooden booths and a roaring fire in winter. After refreshment, exit onto Guilford Street and walk left past Coram's Fields.

Detour: The School of Life on Marchmont Street (just above Russell Square station) offers classes and therapies devoted to emotional intelligence. An extensive calendar of events is hosted throughout the year including workshops on 'How to Balance Work with Life' and 'Resilience' and Sunday Sermons from speakers such as Alain de Botton on how to better understand the news. The shop is full of clever tools for thinking.

Bloomsbury has much to offer the urban walker and would not be complete without a visit to the British Museum on Great Russell Street. A leafy literary mile awaits you.

Parliament Hill to Primrose Hill

Start: Gospel Oak station
End: Regent's Park underground station

From Gospel Oak station approach the Heath and climb to take in the iconic view from Parliament Hill. Explore the rambling heath with its many ponds, ancient woodlands, rich wildlife and bounding dogs. Fly a kite on Kite Hill. Visit Kenwood House, a former stately home with an impressive art collection. Exit via Pryors Field and Highgate Pond (No.1), admiring the swans and the backs of expensive houses on South Hill Park. Cross South End Road and walk up Downshire Hill. About halfway up you will come to St John's Church and the top of Keats Grove.

Detour: Visit Keats House, home of romantic poet John Keats. Keats Grove in itself is a charming street of Georgian Regency terraces.

Arrive on Rosslyn Hill. Turn right and follow Hampstead High Street, the main shopping strip. Visit La Crêperie de Hampstead, a Hampstead institution, and partake in a little post-hill sustenance. Take a right onto Flask Walk, an alleyway of quirky shops. Turn left onto Back Lane and exit onto Heath Street. Cross the road and climb Holly Mount Steps. On Holly Mount you will find The Holly Bush, a delightful pub serving great food with an open fire in the front bar. A hearty pub lunch will inevitably call for a further stretch of the legs. Retrace your steps back down Hampstead High Street and Rosslyn Hill. Take a right onto Belsize Avenue, then left onto Belsize Park Gardens, eventually leading to Primrose Hill. Stand on the fringe of Regent's Park and central London beyond.

Bermondsey & Rotherhithe

Start: London Bridge station
End: Rotherhithe station

Exit London Bridge station and walk down Tooley Street. Take a right onto Bermondsey Street, the most bustling road in the area and home to the Fashion and Textile Museum, founded by Zandra Rhodes. Continue walking, passing Tanner Street on the left (a reminder of the leather industry's significance to the area) and White Cube gallery on the right. Cross over Long Lane to continue down Bermondsey Street where on the left is Bermondsey Square, a mix of shops, offices and apartments. Exit at the rear of Bermondsey Square, crossing Tower Bridge Road to enter Grange Walk with its cluster of late 17th century houses. Turn left up The Grange to reach Abbey Street and then right for a few minutes, passing under a railway bridge. This bridge carried the first railway line to open in London. Cross Jamaica Road and walk down George Row. Head down Jacob Street and bear right at the end along Mill Street to follow the signs for St Saviour's Dock.

Detour: On the left, just before Mill Street bends round to the right, head up a small walkway that leads you to a footbridge running across the entrance to St Saviour's Dock - a marked improvement from the filthy, crumbling area immortalised in Dickens' Oliver Twist.

Retrace your steps back to Mill Street and continue along Bermondsey Wall West, which runs parallel to the Thames. Head briefly inland before rejoining the Thames path. Walk through King Stairs Gardens and Rotherhithe Street, the longest street in London at two miles in length. On the right, is the Brunel Museum where Isambard Kingdom Brunel began his extraordinary career aged 19 years. On the left is The Mayflower, the oldest pub on the Thames and a convivial place to rest and take in the panoramic views over the river.


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