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6 winter walks in south west London and Surrey

Where to walk off the excess this season

The nights are getting longer, the mercury continues to fall and the season of overindulgence is well and truly upon us. Afternoons whiled away in front of a festive flick, hidden under a woolly blanket surrounded chocolate wrappers are undeniably a highlight of winter time.

However, with multiple areas of natural beauty to be admired a short distance away, the season is equally ideal for a picturesque stroll. So wrap up warm, prep the kids, dogs (and a flask!) and head out on a post-confectionary-binge adventure around some of our favourite spots across south-west London and Surrey.

1 

Wimbledon & Putney Commons

Combine a spot of shopping with a wintertime walk through 1,140 acres of open green space. Start at Putney Common’s entrance by the Green Man Pub, ambling in the direction of quaint Wimbledon Village. Stop off for a half-time hot drink at the Windmill Tea Rooms, situated under the common’s historic Windmill Museum, before continuing the walk as you look out for the likes of moles, foxes and badgers, as well as rare insects and grass snakes, all of which help to make the area both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Reward yourself with lunch at the Crooked Billet or Hand in Hand pub, before exploring the offerings of Wimbledon Village’s boutique shops.

2 

Winkworth Arboretum

With ‘Arboretum’ etymologically meaning ‘a place of trees’ from its Latin origins, it’s no surprise Winkworth’s sprawling gardens are full of them, with over 1,000 species of trees and shrub to meander through. Choose your route through more than 100 acres, stopping off for wholesomely bucolic photo opportunities at the beautiful boathouse with views across the lake, or on one of the arboretum’s towering hills. Crack open a flask of hot chocolate as you absorb frosty views of the Surrey Hills, before warming up in the Winkworth Tea Room. Those eager to extend the exploration will be delighted by the quaint town of Hascombe. Local history is served up by St Peter’s Church, which still retains some of its medieval features, before a hearty lunch at 16th Century pub The White Horse.

A winter's day at Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey. Winkworth is a collection of more than 1000 different trees and plants set within glorious Surrey countryside.

3

Peaslake & Shere Trail – Festival of Winter Walks

Those in search of a sociable rambling experience will be pleased to hear of the return of the Ramblers’ Festival of Winter Walks. Join them on Saturday 21 December as they embark on a circular stroll of Surrey’s Peaslake & Shere Trail. Journey through ancient woodlands and country paths and take in vistas from the Surrey Hills before finishing with an optional pub lunch.

Join the ramblers with their Festival of Winter Walks with the Peaslake & Shere Trail walk on December 21. More information here.

4

The Wandle Trail

In its entirety, the Wandle Trail follows the River Wandle from its source in Carshalton to its finish as it joins the River Thames in Wandsworth, twisting and turning for 14 miles. For a real winter leg stretch, join the start of the designated trail just off Carshalton’s Mill Lane, and follow it towards the Thames. With much to see on the route, an early start is best – allow yourself time to feel swamped in nature at Watermeads Nature Reserve, pet sheep, goats and horses at Deen City Farm, and admire Georgian-era watermills once key in the production of snuff (sniffing tobacco). If you make it the entire route, gorge on cheesy fare from the ship’s raclette cheese menu, or book ahead for a hearty Sunday roast.

5 

Polesden Lacey, Surrey

Beat the winter blues with an escape from the city and embark on a charming stroll through Surrey’s rolling landscape. Begin your journey at the house the queen mother honeymooned at, embarking on a walk to Denbies Hillside to take in stunning views of the countryside towards Leith Hill, the tallest point in south-east England. On Sundays through winter, half-time refreshments are provided at Denbies Hillside Car Park by Café La Crème. Grab a luxury hot chocolate before heading off on the second leg of the journey, through ancient woodland and back towards the Polesden Lacey carpark. Rest at the Bell in Fetcham, a cosy watering hole offering up contemporary, gastropub fare such as venison & red wine stew and marmalade glazed gammon.

6 

Richmond Park

As the largest of London’s Royal Parks, at a sizeable 2,500 acres, there are unsurprisingly an abundance of picturesque walks to be enjoyed throughout the festive season. Park up at Roehampton Gate car park and follow the main paths in a circle, detouring to grab a view of St Paul’s Cathedral on King Henry’s Mound and take in the beauty of the Isabella Plantation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. If on foot, amble through the park’s heart, between the Pen Ponds and in the direction of Richmond’s riverside. Tuck into seasonal produce at the Prince’s Head, or continue the seasonal indulgence with an afternoon tea at Petersham Nurseries.

A wintry Richmond Park (c) Gareth Lofthouse