Best autumn walks an hour from London (with a great pub at the end)

Botany Bay (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

There are some perks to changing seasons and cooling the weather: waking up every day to a crimson treetop canvas on your window panes and dusting off your winter coat like an old friend. But really, the best thing about autumn is an invigorating stroll followed by a glass of red wine in a country pub. OK, forget the walks – the best thing about autumn is red wine in the pub. But it tastes even sweeter after some physical exertion and a slight gust of wind. Here are some of the best country walks (ending in the pub) within a London. Chin chin.

The Chess Valley, Hertfordshire

    (Alamy Stock Photo)

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Chess Valley in the Chiltern Hills is easily accessible from Chorleywood Station on the Metropolitan Line, making it very convenient, especially if you are a North or West Londoner. There are several guided walks to choose from, but we recommend a walk to the picturesque village of Chenies, which takes around five kilometers in all. The walk follows the bubbling river Scacchi and meanders through bluebells forests that are still magical on fall mornings. It ends in the village of Chenies, the village of chocolate boxes, whose Tudor-style cottages have appeared in several films and TV series including The Crown and A Little Chaos, directed by the late Alan Rickman.

Pub after the walk: The Bedford Arms has everything you want from a country pub, with a lovely 18th century red brick exterior and large rose garden with plenty of seating. It also has all the usual crowd pleasures on the menu like roast beef and pork loin, plus more modern dishes like charred chili and cumin-spiced Romanesco steak, rocket pesto with crispy seed crumble.

Thanet, Kent

    (Bottega Caruso)

(Bottega Caruso)

Take the train from London to Ramsgate and walk the Thanet Coastal Path to trendy Margate for a sip of fresh organic red wine before boarding the afternoon train back to London. You can walk the cliff tops from Ramsgate through Charles Dickens’ favorite vacation spot, Broadstairs and stop for cream tea at a chintz tea house before heading to Margate or opt for the beach path for some healthy sea air – you may even spot a fossil along the way on Botany Bay Beach.

Pub after the walk: You are spoiled for choice with great spirits in Margate, but one of the undisputed best is The George and Heart on King Street. The cozy 18th century coaching inn was converted by owners Kelly Love and Dan Williams and is famous for their giant Yorkshire puddings, home-brewed lager and crumble. For something less traditional, head to Bottega Caruso, a small, family-run Italian restaurant described by writer Grace Dent as “heroically wonderful”. Pork shoulder, ‘nduja and roasted pepper ragu with fresh pasta are worth giving up on any roast.

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 very convenient for urban dwellers, or those like me, without a license. Follow the signs to Osterley Park from Osterley Underground and in moments the asphalt of the London suburbs melts into manicured fields and flower gardens. For a bit of culture, visit Osterley House, a large Georgian estate built in the 1670s by banker Sir Thomas Gresham and restored in the 1990s by the National Trust. For a longer walk, leave the park and head north to Tentelow Wood, where you can follow the canal until it flows into the River Brent.

Pub after the walk: For a slice of history, head to The Plow on Tentelow Lane. This old-fashioned pub dates back to 1349 and was originally built to provide a refreshment stand for the craftsmen who built medieval St Mary’s Church in Norwood Green.

Beckenham Place Park, South East London

    (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Start at Ravensbourne Station, which is just a 33-minute train ride from London Bridge to Beckenham Place Park, a sprawling green oasis in South East London. The park is home to 98 hectares of manicured lawns and centuries-old woods, which are home to centuries-old ash trees, pedunculated oaks and wild cherry trees. If you are lucky, at this time of year you may come across gooseberries, red currants and black currants ripe for harvesting along the path. Head to the lake in the middle of the park for an invigorating dip to clean up weekend cobwebs or just brush a few pebbles before warming up with a flat white coffee from the Georgian-era Mansion House.

Pub after the walk: Unlike other parts of London where pubs close left, right and center, in South East London you can barely move around the pubs. Forest Hill is within walking distance of Beckenham Place Park and is home to a myriad of cozy pubs with delicious gastronomic offerings such as The Signal, which is close to the station. Head farther and you’ll come to The Herne Tavern on the corner of Peckham Rye, which has a sprawling garden and has a crucial partnership with Yard Sale Pizza.

Bedgebury National Pinetum Forest, Kent

    (AFP via Getty Images)

(AFP via Getty Images)

Just 45 minutes by train from Charing Cross in Wadhurst, you’ll find Bedgebury pinetum, a protected arboretum set in ancient East Sussex woodland. For the uninitiated, an arboretum is a botanical garden for trees and in Bedgebury you will find the largest collection of conifers in the world. The Pinetum was established in 1850 and later bought by Kew Gardens as the western air of London was too polluted to grow pine trees. Now it is home to miles of scented trails with the fresh and sweet scent of pine cones. If you feel like you’re starting to wave around, wander around the lake in the middle of the forest for a piece of homemade pie at the Bedgebury Cafe.

Pub after the walk: One of the nicest pubs on the outskirts of Bedgebury in the village of Ticehurst is The Bell Inn pub. La Campana, as the locals call it, was built in 1560 and is practically pulsating with period charm; photos roaring fireplaces large enough for Santa to climb out, comfortable leather armchairs, 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 affluent home of the Rothschild banking family who owned the Christopher Wren-designed Tring Park Mansion. From the village there are wide paths that satisfy all appetites on foot – for something a little shorter, take a civilian loop around Tring Park or if you’re looking to beat your step count record, head to Ashridge Estate, which has 5,000 acres of land. The estate’s 17-mile boundary trail winds in and out of bucolic woodlands, bluebell meadows and crosses “Britain’s oldest road,” The Ridgeway.

Pub after the walk: Located in the hamlet of Piccotts End, a box of chocolates on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, the Marchmont Arms is conveniently located near the station for an easy home escape. The pub’s interior marries modern furnishings with marble countertops and effect lighting with airy Georgian architecture. It also has a large garden perfect for furry companions.

Marlow, Buckinghamshire

    (Getty Images / iStockphoto)

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Even though you’re still on the Thames, Marlow feels as far from London as Timbuktu. Stroll along the Thames Trail and pass historic sites such as the Grade 1 Marlow Bridge, designed by William Tierney Clark and later used as a design for a structure he built to connect Hungary’s capital Buda and Pest. Along this route you will pass rolling meadows, Georgian houses and an above-average number of ducks. Follow the trail for four and a half miles to Cookham, immortalized in paintings by artist Stanley Spencer.

Pub after the walk: For a truly refined pub meal, stop at Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers, the first and only pub to receive two Michelin stars. However, this isn’t the only institution in Kerridge’s Marlow – his other pub, The Coach, is just down the road and has a Michelin star and very reasonably priced food. Order the pork-stuffed poussin rotisserie and you might just cry for joy.

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