London's best winter walks: Five beautiful lesser-known parks and trails to try around the capital

Wrap up warm and fill a thermos - here are five winter walks to enjoy in London, from Crystal Palace to Highgate to Walthamstow.
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For many feeling down is near-unavoidable at this time of year, and with Blue Monday just around the corner, those of us in the capital should look to make the most of the little sun we have in January. 

Taking yourself for a walk is one of the best ways to keep your head above water. While the Royal Parks, Hampstead Heath and Greenwich Park are excellent spots for some fresh air, LondonWorld has picked out five hidden gems that even a lifelong Londoner might not know about.

Wandle Trail, Wandsworth to Croydon

The Wandle Trail follows the Thames tributary 15 miles from Wandsworth down to Croydon, with entrances peppered in between.

The path through the Wandle Valley stands out as one of London’s least-disturbed green spaces. Animals and wildflowers line the edge of the river, with the route perfect for walkers and cyclists.

Linear parks are a fantastic alternative to London’s green spaces.

Waterlow Park, Highgate

Waterlow Park, bordered by Highgate’s famous cemetery, boasts brilliant views of the capital and colourful public gardens. The park is perfect for families, boasting a cafe and playgrounds both for younger and older children. It is adorned by the beautiful Lauderdale House, which has a cafe and hosts art exhibitions, activities and events. The land, given to the public by Sir Sydney Waterlow as “a garden for the gardenless,” also has tennis courts, three ponds and a beautiful kitchen garden.

Waterlow Park is just a short uphill walk from Archway Station.

A woman walks through Waterlow Park, Highgate, in sub-zero temperatures.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)A woman walks through Waterlow Park, Highgate, in sub-zero temperatures.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A woman walks through Waterlow Park, Highgate, in sub-zero temperatures. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Crystal Palace Park

For people living in south-east London, Crystal Palace Park might be more of a staple than a hidden gem - but for those who don’t know about it, the site of the Great Exhibition is well worth a visit.

Alongside the open green spaces, cosy cafe and playground that come with any London park, Crystal Palace Park is famous for its dinosaurs. When the Crystal Palace was built at the top of the park for the great exhibition, the Victorians built statues of recently-discovered prehistoric life in the lower lake - or at least, statues of what they thought the dinosaurs looked like.

The park is served by Crystal Palace and Penge West Overground stations.

Walthamstow Wetlands

Just 15 minutes from central London, Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve spans a huge area between Tottenham and Walthamstow. The sheer scale of the reserve almost makes it feel like you’re in the countryside, with the old Engine House completing its rural atmosphere. The wetlands are home to a fantastic range of wildlife, including falcons, waterfowls and rainbow trout.

Tottenham Hale, Blackhorse Road, Lea Bridge and Northumberland Park are among the many stations serving the expansive nature reserve.

Royal Parks’ Hidden Stories Walking Tours

Exploring new places is a refreshing, rewarding way of spending time outdoors - and the same can be said for looking at old places in a new way.

The Royal Parks’ Hidden Stories guided walking tours offer a fresh experience of London’s well-loved stomping grounds. Aimed at an adult audience, the tours dive into the parks’ roles in British history, how they’re looked after today, and the lesser-known stories surrounding the capital’s iconic green spaces.

The tours cost £12.00 per person and are held every four weeks, with the next ones taking place on 12 January (St. James’ Park), 19 January (Hyde Park) and 26 January (Kensington Gardens).