London is brimming with brilliant attractions, beautiful landmarks and the best city parks in the world. Add the River Thames to this enticing picture and the capital offers everything a roving wanderer could possibly want. Forget jumping on the Tube, don a pair of trainers and see the shimmering sights on foot.
Green Park to the South Bank
Take the Tube to Green Park - inside the park walk through the sun-dappled paths under majestic trees. When you reach the other side cross the road (not forgetting to look right to catch a glimpse of Buckingham Palace) and you'll bump straight into another green oasis, St James's Palace. Head left with the lake on your right and cross the water at the bridge - do take a moment in the middle to look at Buckingham Palace behind you and also the other way as Horse Guards Parade and the Foreign Office stand picture-perfect at the end of an uninterrupted view. Now walk towards these buildings and keep going straight until you hit Whitehall and the river - you could veer slightly to the right at this stage for a peek at the Houses of Parliament. Whatever way you go when you get to the Thames you want to be heading north along the Embankment - just lovely - until Waterloo Bridge where you should cross (lots more impressive cityscapes including St Paul's and Big Ben). At the other side of the bridge head down to the riverside of London-s bustling artistic hub on the South Bank - catch a show at the National, dine al fresco or carry on walking!
Wimbledon Common and Village
Start from Wimbledon Station (Tube / Rail), turning right out of the main entrance and heading straight up the hill (good warm-up). At the top turn right into Wimbledon Village and mosey on through, picking out a place for food later, then you'll find the common on your left as you come out of the High Street. Time to go exploring... Look out for the nine rugged ponds spread across the common and Putney Heath to the north. It's also worth seeing the Wimbledon Windmill, which is near the middle of the common at the end of Windmill Road. For a change of scenery do the return leg via the west side of the common. More intrepid types can carry on the adventure into Richmond Park, which is over to the north-west. Tired souls can wind their way back towards the village, dropping in at Cannizaro Park en route. The entrance is on West Side Common which dissects the bottom of the common near the village. You'll have, no doubt, worked up an appetite from all that fresh air and exercise and Wimbledon Village is just the place to revive yourself before strolling back down the hill to the station.
The Boat Race Route - Putney to Chiswick
From Putney Bridge Tube cross the river over Putney Bridge then turn right onto Lower Richmond Road and keep right so you start following the river along the Embankment to Putney Pier. At the end of the road take the footbridge across Beverley Brook and from here the route becomes much more countrified. A little further on there is another path called Queen Elizabeth Walk that goes off to the left and takes you to the London Wetland Centre, which is well worth a visit. Back by the river you'll come to Harrods Furniture Depository (now luxury flats) and Hammersmith Bridge (the only road crossing the course) is up ahead. The next outlook is the row of Georgian mansions standing proud on Chiswick Mall over on the north shore. In a while the path joins the road but becomes separate again once you've gone under Barnes Bridge - look out for rowing boats over this stretch. Before the bridge you could take a detour into Barnes by turning left off the road running parallel with the river into the High Street - a lovely hamlet awaits with good old pubs (try the Sun Inn) and even a village green with a pond. Meander back to the river and the finishing line is in sight. Just turn left at the end of Mortlake High Street (on the riverside) into Sheen Lane, where Mortlake Station awaits ready to whisk you back on a train to Putney or, if you're still feeling active, cross Chiswick Bridge and head back along the north bank.
Travel to Norbiton Railway Station (on the Waterloo main line) and outside the station cross Coombe Road and walk down Wolverton Road with Kingston Hospital on your right. At the junction with Kingston Hill, cross over so you have Queen's Road on your right with the Albert Arms pub on the corner. Go down Queen's Road and at the end you enter the park through Kingston Gate. When you come to a roundabout follow the footpath in between the two roads that runs past Gallows Pond towards Thatched House Lodge. About half a mile down, just before the Lodge, take the path that goes off to the right and follow this route past Dann's Pond all the way to the entrance to the Isabella Plantation at Broomfield Hill Gate. The Main Stream, with its little bridges, runs right through the middle of the garden. You can follow its course but do veer off the beaten track to explore the woods. At the end of the Main Stream lies Peg's Pond with its little waterfall and Wally's Island. You can also exit Isabella's from here via the Bottom Gate, which means you can take a slightly different route back. Outside the gate head left and you'll pick up a footpath leading towards Thatched House Lodge. From here the path becomes the one you were on earlier. Stroll back to Norbiton Station, stopping off at the Albert Arms' pretty beer garden for a refreshing beverage.
Hampstead Heath and Village
From Hampstead Tube turn left and walk along the High Street until you get to Gayton Road on your left. Turn down here and keep going straight – you will come to Well Walk, which leads (across East Heath Road) onto Hampstead Heath. Pick up the path and continue straight ahead until you come to a trail on the right which leads down to a couple of Hampstead's bathing ponds and fishing ponds. Cross to the other side and follow the route through the woodland and out to the summit of Parliament Hill. The footpath continues on and once you reach the cafe take the path running along the east side of the Heath towards a string of ponds. The track bends away from the ponds (worth popping to the right to see the model boats) and a little further along you'll reach the mysterious pine-topped Tumulus, which could be the burial ground of Queen Boudicca or, more likely, the site of an old windmill. From here come off the beaten track and keep going straight pass Viaduct Pond on your left. Pick up the path again, which will take you over to Spaniards Road and The Spaniards Inn. Turn left here and where the road splits head down Heath Street until you get to Holly Steps leading up to Holly Mount. Just around the bend is the Holly Bush – a wonderful pub to stop at before continuing down Heath Street to the station.
Take the Tube or a mainline train to Kew Gardens (Tube / Rail) and head up Lichfield Road to enter the gardens via Victoria Gate. The first place to see has to be the Palm House and Marine Display so make a northward beeline for the glass domes under which a tropical rainforest thrives and (in the basement) coral reefs and mangrove swamps live in their underwater worlds. Next stop is the Rose Garden behind the Palm House with its 54 different varieties, and from here amble along Cherry Walk all the way to Temperate House - a huge hot-house of subtropical plants. Once you've explored, continue in the same direction until you come to the Japanese Gateway before taking the path to the north-west towards Woodland Glade via the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway where you can climb 59 feet up to see the trees from the top down. Once back down to earth you can move on to Woodland Glade where you'll find impressive redwood tress, colourful summer shrubs and a pretty water lily pond on the western side. If you veer slightly off the path to your right you'll wind your way through woodland, looking out for monkey puzzle trees, and come out at the lake. Turn right here and walk along the shore, which is fringed with moisture-loving trees, and then head to the other side of the lake to explore Kew’s specialist gardens of azaleas, bamboo and rhododendrons. After this, point yourself in the direction of the Palm House (to the east) and wander back. It's worth dropping by Waterlily House to the left of Palm House to finish off the walk in true botanical style.
Trafalgar Square to Borough Market
Start off at Charing Cross (Tube / Rail). Head left out of the station walking towards Trafalgar Square with its famous fountains and Nelson's Column. Once you've crossed the square, turn down Whitcomb Street to the left of the National Gallery and enter Leicester Square via Panton Street on the right. Go diagonally across and exit by this corner of the square, walking up towards Leicester Square Tube. You'll go past the Arts Theatre and continue down Long Acre until you reach Covent Garden Tube. Turn right here into James Street and at the end you'll find Covent Garden Market waiting to be explored. Come out of the market at the opposite side to where you entered and head down Southampton Street back towards the Strand. From here walk left, take the first turning on the right to the riverside and then keep heading left (or east) along the Embankment - don't miss the great view of the London Eye from here. When you come to the Millennium Bridge, you'll see St Paul's Cathedral set back from the river in all its magnificent glory. As you cross the steel footbridge make sure you take in the views down the river all the way to Tower Bridge. London's medieval red light district, Bankside, lies at the other side of the Thames but is now characterised by the Tate Modern, housed in the old power station. Head left along the river, passing Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, turning away from the Thames when you get to London Bridge. You'll soon come to Borough High Street. Borough Market is on your right as the road branches off to Southwark Street. After spending a mouth-watering time among the stalls, go back to the High Street where you can hop on a Tube at London Bridge (Tube / Rail)station.
Sloane Square to Camden Town
If you get to Sloane Square Tube in time for lunch Oriel is a buzzing bar and brasserie on the square at the forefront of Chelsea society. To the east and west lies fashionable King's Road, and Sloane Street - off the top of the square - is bursting with designer shops. At the end you'll come to Knightsbridge where the star of shops worldwide, Harrods, awaits just round to the left on Brompton Road. Do spend a moment or two within its luxurious walls before crossing Knightsbridge and heading straight into Hyde Park. Stop by the Serpentine, and then head north on the boundary with Kensington Gardens - it's worth nipping across to see the famous statue of Peter Pan. Turn left on leaving Hyde Park and then right into Westbourne Street and continue on this road under the Westway bypass until you get to Blomfield Road. Turn right here and start to follow the course of the Regent's Canal through Little Venice, past Primrose Hill (with its brilliant view of the city) and London Zoo at Regent's Park and all the way into Camden Town with its vibrant markets every way you turn. The Lock Tavern awaits up Chalk Farm Road to the left of the canal for a well-earned pint or two before heading down Camden High Street to the Tube.
Blackheath to Greenwich
Head for Blackheath Railway Station (trains from Charing Cross) and come out into the village. Walk left out of the village and carry on straight along Montpelier Row towards the heath with All Saints' Parish Church perched majestically on the edge of the green. When you see the wide open grassland stretching out before you, head across the middle of the heath to the other side where you’ll meet Shooters Hill Road. Turn left along here and then up Duke Humphrey Road on the right, leading to Blackheath Gate and into Greenwich Park. Follow the footpath on the right towards the flower garden and lake (it's worth walking around the lake for the view) and then turn left up to the Royal Observatory. At the top you can see for miles, as the Thames snakes its way through the city. From here walk down to the river, leaving the park through St Mary's Gate and heading down King William Walk past Greenwich Market to the Cutty Sark. Turn back from the river down Greenwich Church Street to meet the High Road. Greenwich Railway Station is on the right. Catch the DLR or a train back to Charing Cross.
Teddington Lock to Hampton Court
Take a train from Waterloo (Tube / Rail) to Teddington Railway Station, head up to the High Street and turn right, walking right along it and continuing into Ferry Road until you bump into the Thames. Here you'll find Teddington Lock and Weir, where you should cross the water and then follow the river upstream through Ham towards Kingston. You'll come to Canbury Gardens and as you reach the other side of Kingston, beyond the bridge, Charter Quay with its smart waterfront plaza of bars and restaurants is a good place for a midway rest. You can cross Kingston Bridge at this point to continue the walk on the quieter, more scenic side of the river and you'll glimpse the grounds of Hampton Court Palace on your right and pass the exclusive hideaway of Thames Ditton Island a little further on. Henry VIII's illustrious palace will soon come into view and no walk in this part of the world would be complete without a stroll around the magnificent gardens. Bushy Park is opposite Hampton Court and is an added feature of this walk if you're in the mood for deer-spotting and chilling on the grass, but if you're simply ravenous, we recommend committing the ultimate walkers' sin and hopping in a cab from Hampton Court Railway Station for the five-minute drive to Marney's Village Inn, a wonderful, warm-hearted pub with yummy nosh. You can then wend your way diagonally across the common land golf course to Esher Railway Station to catch a train back to Waterloo.