Thursday, 16 June 2011

Guest Post

This is a first for this blog; today I have a guest post from Jess Spate.

Jess' bio can be seen at the end of the post.

Walks by train from London

Having a car in London can be more of a hassle than a help, but when it comes time to get out of the city and go for walk, cars come in very handy. They make it far easier to go where you want to go, when you want to go there, but there are a number of excellent walks that can be done from train stations rather than car parks. Here are a just a handful of the possibilities:

-Stour Valley Take the train to Chartham, Kent, and it's just a short walk to the bank of the River Stour. This area is famous for its orchards, so go in late spring and you'll see a wealth of fruit trees in full blossom. The Stour Valley Walk is well marked and very close to the train station in Chartham, or you can use the station as an entry point for a section walk on the North Downs Way. If you've got more than a single day on your hands, it's possible to follow this footpath all the way to Dover and get the train back to London from there.

-The Chilterns Great Missenden Station in Buckinghamshire is the starting point for excellent walks in the Chilterns, or you can stop at Saunderton. It's on the London to Birmingham line so fairly easy to get to. Head towards High Wycombe Hill there is a good chance of seeing some of England's only Red Kites. You'll know them when you see them- the red kite has a distinctive forked tail and they're anything up to 5'6" in wingspan.

-Thames Path The walk from Kingston Upon Thames (easily accessible by rail) to Westminster isn't exactly wilderness, but the 20 mile length is challenging. This section of the Thames Path passes Teddington Lock, Putney Bridge, Kew Gardens, and many more well-known landmarks along the way.

-Offa's Dyke Path Both ends of the 180 mile footpath are accessible by train. It's less than 3 hours from Paddington to Chepstow, changing at Gloucester, and from there you can either launch yourself onto the Offa's Dyke Path and head for Prestatyn in North Wales, or explore the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. Chepstow is also the starting point for the less well-known but very interesting Wye Valley Walk, which follows the river 136 miles up into Mid Wales. However, finding public transport from the end point isn't so easy. It's another 8 miles walking to Llanidloes, where a bus will take you to Newtown Station.

If you're willing to take a walk with a more distant starting point, the UK has a number of train stations that allow walkers to get into National Parks and more mountainous areas. Snowdonia and the Arans can be accessed from Barmouth, Blaenau Festiniog, and Betwys-y-Coed, and the stations along the Hope Valley line (Sheffield to Manchester) and the Derwent Valley line from Derby can be the starting points for walks in the Peak District. Kendal Station is just one of the options in the Lake District, or you can go even further and take the train all the way up to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.

Jess Spate used to live in London but is now based in Cardiff, close to the Brecon Beacons and the Forest of Dean. She works for Appalachian Outdoors when not out on the hills.

Image credit 1: Richard Barrett-Small via flickr, under a Creative Commons licence

Image credit 2: Paul Albertella via flickr, under a Creative Commons licence

1 comment:

  1. There's some good walking to be had along the South Downs too on day trips from London using the train. Hassocks to Southease is a particular favourite of mine!