Walk in the country’s longest valley, just a few miles from the coast – Devil’s Dyke
Legend has it that the devil himself dug this mile-long gash in the Weald to drown the righteous locals. John Constable called the vista from the top of the Dyke “the grandest view in the world”, but as well as stunning landscapes this Ice Age geography hosts 10,000 years of human and natural history. See the remains of an Iron Age hill fort or a forgotten Victorian funfair, and in the valley floor walk among living carpets of summer flowers – all while encompassed by a serenity that soothes the mind and body. A perfect foil to the hot summer city, Devil’s Dyke is just 40 miles from London, and only 5 miles from Brighton
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and haven for wildlife – Chess Valley
The clear waters of the River Chess have cut through the chalk hills of the Chilterns for millennia and the Chess Valley boasts some of the most delightful countryside in the region. Despite being less than 20 miles from central London, the landscape here supports a stunning array of wildlife, including kingfishers, water voles, brown trout, orchids and dragonflies. There is also a rich human history to be discovered, including the remains of a Roman villa, an Elizabethan manor house, and ages-old watercress beds.
Epping Forest – Shinrin-yoku, or Japanese “forest bathing”
Research shows that spending just 15 minutes enclosed by trees lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone), boosts immune response and reduces anxiety. The 6,000 acres of ancient woodland that comprises Epping Forest is the perfect place to “bathe” the mind, body and soul under the spring canopy regrowth. Despite being less than 15 miles from central London, over 60% of Epping Forest is listed as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and its ancient trees are the perfect backdrop for shinrin-yoku meditation.
Ankerwycke, Runnymede – Ancient Yews and the “Most Important Document in the World” –
Home to the National Trust’s oldest tree, a magnificent yew more than 2,500 years old, Ankerwycke and Runnymede are also steeped in human history. Near the site of the signing of the Magna Carta, a document that has been inspiring people for over 800 years, you will visit the ruins of a priory that was established in 1160. This historical Thameside location is an oasis of calm and historical significance just 20 miles from central London.
The longest and most dramatic unspoilt section of the south coast – The Seven Sisters
The famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs are renowned for providing some of the most spectacular views of the sea anywhere on the south coast. The mix of unspoilt chalk downlands and beach walks beneath towering cliffs makes this the perfect escape from the heat of the city. In summer, the whole area is rich with wild flowers and beautiful butterflies. Let your mind and body be cleansed by the cool sea breezes and scents of ocean and meadow only 40 miles from central London.
Simply stunning North Downs summer vistas – Box Hill
Box Hill provides some of the most arresting summer views over the beautiful Surrey countryside. Hiking to this summit of the North Downs gives you the perfect vantage point to stop, breathe deeply, and take in what every sense is telling you. The ideal antidote to a frantic, tiring, hot and claustrophobic week in the city, a summer weekend walk on Box Hill is only 20 miles from central London.