London’s best autumn walks under an hour (with a great pub at the end)

Botanical Bay (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Botanical Bay (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There are certain benefits to changing the seasons and cooling the weather: waking up each day to a canvas of crimson treetops and dusting off your winter coat like an old friend. But really, the best thing about autumn is an invigorating walk followed by a glass of red wine in a country pub. OK, forget the walks – the best thing about autumn is the red wine at the pub. But it tastes even sweeter after a bit of physical work and a light breeze. Here are some of the best country walks (ending at the pub) in London. Chin chin.

The Chess Valley, Hertfordshire

    (Alamy Photo)

(Alamy Photo)

The Chess Valley in the Chiltern Hills is easily accessible from Chorleywood station on the Metropolitan line, making it very convenient, particularly if you are a North or West Londoner. There are several guided walks to choose from, but we recommend taking a walk to the picturesque village of Chenies, which takes around five kilometers in total. The walk follows the gurgling River Chess and meanders through bluebell woods still magical on autumn mornings. Finish in the chocolate box village of Chenies, whose Tudor-style cottages have featured in several movies and TV series, including The Crown and A Little Chaos, directed by the late Alan Rickman.

After-ride pub: The Bedford Arms has everything you would expect of a country pub, with a pretty 18th century red brick exterior and a large rose garden with plenty of seating. It also offers all the usual crowd-pleasing dishes like roast beef and pork loin, as well as more modern dishes like charred chilli and cumin-spiced romanesco steak, arugula pesto with a crunchy seeds.

Thanet, Kent

    (Bottega Caruso)

(Bottega Caruso)

Catch the train from London to Ramsgate and stroll along the Thanet Coastal Path to trendy Margate for a glass of chilled organic red wine before catching the afternoon train back to London. You can walk along the cliffs from Ramsgate to Broadstairs, Charles Dickens’ favorite vacation spot, and stop for a cream tea at a chintz tea house before heading to Margate or opting for the beach for some healthy sea air – you may even spot a fossil along the way on Botany Bay Beach.

After-ride pub: You’re spoiled for choice with fine spirits in Margate, but one of the undisputed best is The George and Heart on King Street. The cozy 18th century inn was transformed by owners Kelly Love and Dan Williams and is famous for its gigantic Yorkshire puddings, house lager and crumbles. For something less traditional, head to Bottega Caruso, a small, family-run Italian restaurant described by writer Grace Dent as “heroically wonderful.” The pork shoulder, ‘nduja and roasted pepper stew with freshly made pasta are worth roasting.

Osterley Park, West London

    (© Arnhel de Serra/National Trust)

(© Arnhel de Serra/National Trust)

Just 17 minutes on the Piccadilly line from Hammersmith, this walk is really handy for people from the city centre, or those like me, without a driving licence. Follow the signs for Osterley Park from Osterley Underground and within moments the asphalt of suburban London turns into manicured fields and flower gardens. For a bit of culture, head to Osterley House, a grand Georgian estate built in the 1570s by banker Sir Thomas Gresham and restored in the 90s by the National Trust. For a longer walk, leave the park and head north towards Tentelow Forest, where you can follow the canal until it opens into the River Brent.

After-ride pub: For a slice of history, head to The Plow on Tentelow Lane. This old-world pub dates back to 1349 and was originally built as a bar for craftsmen building the medieval St Mary’s Church on Norwood Green.

Beckenham Place Park, South East London

    (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Start at Ravensbourne Station, which is just a 33-minute train ride across London Bridge to Beckenham Place Park, a sprawling green oasis in south-east London. The park is home to 98 acres of manicured lawns and old-growth woodland, home to century-old ash trees, pedunculate oaks, and wild cherry trees. If you’re lucky, at this time of year you may come across ripe currants, gooseberries and black currants to pick along the way. Head to the lake in the middle of the park for an invigorating swim to clear away the weekend cobwebs or just brush a few pebbles before warming up with a flat white at the Georgian Mansion House café.

After-ride pub: Unlike other parts of London where pubs close left, right and centre, in South East London you can barely get around for pubs. Forest Hill is a short walk from Beckenham Place Park and home to a plethora of cozy pubs with delicious food offerings like The Signal, which is conveniently located next to the station. Go further and you’ll come to The Herne Tavern on the corner of Peckham Rye, which has an extensive garden and has a crucial partnership with Yard Sale Pizza.

Bedgebury Pinetum National Forest, Kent

    (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Just 45 minutes by train from Charing Cross to Wadhurst you will find Bedgebury Pinetum, a protected arboretum set in ancient woodland in East Sussex. For the uninitiated, an arboretum is a botanical garden for trees and in Bedgebury you will find the largest collection of evergreens in the world. The Pinetum was created in the 1850s and later bought by Kew Gardens because the air in West London was too polluted to grow pines. It is now home to miles of footpaths scented with the sweet, fresh smell of pine cones. If you feel like you’re starting to falter, take a stroll down to the lake in the middle of the forest for a slice of homemade cake at Bedgebury Cafe.

After-ride pub: One of the nicest pubs on the outskirts of Bedgebury in the village of Ticehurst is The Bell Inn pub. The bell, as the locals call it, was built in 1560 and practically pulsates with the charm of the time; imagine roaring fireplaces big enough for Santa to climb out of, comfy leather chairs, low beams and bouquets of wildflowers adorning the tables.

Tring Park and the Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire

    (Judith Parry)

(Judith Parry)

Take the train from London Euston to the historic market town of Tring, the well-heeled seat of the Rothschild banking family who owned the Christopher Wren-designed Tring Park Mansion. From the village there are plenty of routes to suit all walking appetites – for something a little shorter, take a civilized lap around Tring Park or if you’re looking to break your pace record, head you to the Ashridge estate, which has 5,000 acres of land. The 27km estate boundary path weaves its way through bucolic woods, meadows of bluebells and crosses Britain’s ‘oldest road’, The Ridgeway.

After-ride pub: Situated in the chocolate box hamlet of Piccotts End, on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, The Marchmont Arms is conveniently located close to the train station for an easy escape back home. The pub’s interiors blend modern furnishings with marble countertops and striking lighting with airy Georgian architecture. It also has a large garden perfect for furry companions.

Marlow, Buckinghamshire

    (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Although you’re still on the Thames, Marlow feels as far from London as Timbuktu. Walk along the Thames Path and pass historic sites such as the Grade 1 listed Marlow Bridge, designed by William Tierney Clark and later used as the model for a structure he built to connect the Hungarian capital to Buda and pest. Along this route you will pass rolling meadows, Georgian houses and above average numbers of ducks. Follow the path for four and a half miles to reach Cookham, immortalized in paintings by artist Stanley Spencer.

After-ride pub: For truly fine pub grub, stop by Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers, the first and only pub to be awarded two Michelin stars. It’s not Kerridge’s only Marlow institution, though – his other pub, The Coach, is just down the road and has a Michelin star and very reasonably priced food. Order the pork-stuffed rotisserie chick and you might just cry with joy.

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