This summer seems to be never-ending in the UK. Just as everyone starts thinking it might finally cool off (or at least rain a little), we get another heat wave that has us all melting in our AC-less flats. The great thing about this weather is that it offers lots of opportunities to get outdoors! You don’t need to go far from London to experience nature at its best, and if you’re looking for a little challenge this summer, how about taking a hike? Read on for some of the best hiking trails near London and everything you need to know in order to take them on!
1. The Seven Sisters (Seaford to Eastbourne)
Length: 14 miles (shorter alternatives include: Seaford to Exceat (3.9 miles), Seaford to Birling Gap (7.9 miles), Seaford to East Dean (9.3 miles), Exceat to Beachy Head (6.4 miles), Exceat to Eastbourne (9.7 miles).
Difficulty Level: Moderate-Hard
The Seven Sisters walk is pretty popular because it offers some stunning coastline views of amazing white cliffs. However, this hike can be quite rigorous as it involves a lot of ascents in order to get those views. Expect the full walk to take around 5-6 hours. The good thing is that, given its popularity, there’s plenty of shorter alternatives as well as cafes, restaurants, etc. where you can pause to rest and refresh along the way.
Check out The Walking Club for step-by-step instruction to this walk.
2. Chess Valley Walk (Chorleywood)
Length: 8 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
The Chess Valley is a very tranquil walk through beautiful English countryside. You won’t be doing a lot walking up and down steep inclines like with The Seven Sisters, and the flatness of the trail makes this a great trek for beginners. You’ll love trekking along beautiful farmland and forests, and discovering quaint little towns and pubs too! Make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and carry water, as large swaths of this walk aren’t shaded.
Check out my blog post for a guide to the walk as well as tips for where to eat and drink!
3. Mole Gap Trail (Leatherhead to Dorking)
Length: 10 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate
The Mole Gap Trail is a unique walk for a couple of reasons. One is that the beginning of the hike is a sort of treasure hunt; you have to walk through Leatherhead looking for arrows that point/give instructions for the trail. The Mole Gap trail also goes through a local vineyard famous for its white wine, so a fun way to end your hike might be to plan a wine tasting as a reward! The trek is pretty straightforward with even terrain and clearly marked paths. The only thing that might bump it up from easy to moderate is the fact that it’s 10 miles. But, as long as you pack plenty of water for the journey, you should be fine!
4. Hastings Circular (Hastings)
Length: 8 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Hastings is another popular seaside town (the British sure love their coastal villages) with the added bonus of being the location of some pretty cool castle ruins. Stop in to see the ruins before ascending 130 steps to the trail overlooking the town. This walk is amazing because of the lushness of the surroundings. In some parts it looks like you’re in a completely different country (maybe somewhere in the jungles of South Asia) altogether! The only difficult part of this walk is the steps, which you can skip by taking a funicular to the top instead. Otherwise, the Hastings Circular is a pretty flat trek, and a great way to spend your Saturday communing with nature.
Check out my vlog for the Hastings Circular.
5. Enfield Circular (Gordon Hill)
Length: 10 miles
Difficulty Level: Hard
The Enfield Circular is probably one of the more difficult treks I’ve done, and I was so glad I didn’t do it first because I probably would have lost my appetite for hiking as a result. The walk itself is well worth it. You’ll get to see lots of cute farms (and farm animals), and even get a view of Central London at one point, but it’s not a popular trek which makes the trail confusing and difficult to navigate at some points. What I loved about this hike is that it gives you a little of everything: cool forests, wide open expanses of fields and farmland, and city views. There’s even a nifty old pub you can stop at during your journey!
Hopefully this list gives you an idea of what to expect for each of these trails, and has left you feeling inspired to try one or two! All of these are within easy distance (less than an hour) from London, so they make for good day trips over the weekend. Leave a comment down below and let me know if you like the trails, what your experiences were hiking them, and your trekking tips.