You aren’t truly a traveler until you explored your own country”. How many of you stumbled on some hidden gems in the city you called home for the past 10-20years? Or how many of you finally managed to visit the local park or a new city?
Being locked up in one place for over a year can seriously mess up with your mental health. I don’t care how beautiful is your hometown, how many amazing beaches you have at your door step or how many trails lead to your house.
It will all get mundane and repetitive after a while.
I myself had no choice but to explore English trails over and over again to the point that I am sure most of the cattle can recognise me by now. If it’s not by my footsteps then definitely by smell:)
Being bound to public transport I had to make some compromises and pick up my fitness level.
Whilst I may not enrich with you a knowledge of local culture, I am more than happy to share some of the most scenic hikes and views I enjoyed those last 15 months. From ferry rides to forts to cemeteries here is a list of inspiration for the next time you will need a break from London.
As always, the order is random.
1. TILBURY FORT AND FERRY TO GRAVESEND
In just 40 mins train ride from London Fenchurch street, this location makes for a very pleasant day out.
Make sure you book your ticket to enter the fort online and bring your own picnic or enjoy a lunch in a pub across the river.
There is a pub waiting for you as you disembark the ferry in Gravesend so if you are like me and dislike being on water, you can calm your nerves with a pint and good meal.
There are plenty of lovely cafes in the city center and you can also explore the city bazaar.
2. HERNE BAY
If you love coastal walks here is another gold mine to explore.
If you like a challenge then I recommend walking the whole distance from Margate to Herne Bay which is roughly 20km.
The path is well paved and pretty straight forward.
Most people associate this vibrant city with one of the most popular beach in England and at only 1 hour away from London, we can see why.
But if you are an avid walker or want to earn your beach rest, then I recommended getting of the train two or one stop earlier and hit either the South Downs way or head towards the Fulking hill. Both directions offering stunning views of the landscape as well as multiple point of interests.
Less than an hour from Waterloo you can be transported to one of the largest cemeteries in Europe also known as London Necropolis. At 500 acres it is home to almost quarter of a million graves and the train station is located right at its door step.
You can find sections such as: Canadian Military cemetery, American cemetery and even Air Accident Cemetery. If you are one of those people that don’t get spooked easily or on the contrary, you love a bit of a thrill why not give it a go?
WARNING: during heavy rains the passage between platforms becomes flooded which means you need to walk an extra hour or two to get to the platform bound for London. Trains may also be cancelled so make sure you check beforehand.
TRIVIA: Brookwood used to have its own railway for transporting dead bodies, complete with flowers, coffin and grieving relatives.
That’s another one of my spontaneous finds. Direct trains run from London Blackfriars and London Bridge every hour and the journey is just 1hr and 8mins.
There is also a shorter version of this journey from Liverpool Street London St Pancras
I saw someone post a picture of Tilbury Fort and of course had to add it to my bucket list.
Managed to visit it between lockdowns and of course had to turn it up into a whole day adventure but with the fort not being big enough, I had to venture a bit out. Was supposed to walk to Coalhouse fort which is like 5km by the coast, but it was closed so decided to take a ferry to Gravesend instead. Mind you, it’s a little ferry and you can’t book it in advance.
Here is a link to the prices and timetable: https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/ferry-services/tilbury-to-gravesend-timetable
6. WEST BROMPTON
Well known as the connecting portal between Britain and rest of the Europe, white cliffs and of course the castle.
Take the high speed train from King’s Cross and you can be there in 1 hour:)
Walking possibilities in Dover are endless and everyone will find something interesting: history buffs can explore the multiple fortresses and citadels, nature lovers can admire all the wildlife from slow worms to peregrine falcons.
I recommend walking from Dover to Folkestone. There are two options: either via North Downs and English Coastal path which will take you above the cliffs. Or take the lower beach path from Samphire Hoe.
WARNING: the direct beach path can only be completed at low tide. Please do make sure you check it before commuting. There is a cafe at Samphire Hoe and they can check it for you:) It takes about 1hr 30min to get safely to the elevated platform and it is tricky walk. I stretched my ligament there:( luckily for me the high tide wasn’t scheduled till 11 pm so I had time to crawl slowly.
This beautiful village hidden in the Surrey Hills is well worth visiting. Unfortunately it does not have a direct train access to London so you will have to either transit in Redhill or Guildford. I recommend buying ticket that will allow you travel in both directions in case you miss one.
For all the movie fans: you can add a walk to charming Shere where “Holidays” were filmed. It is a very charming village, especially in winter.