If you're craving a little fresh air, then make the most of your government-approved unlimited exercise time by discovering your city's best secret walking spots. From beautifully botanical cemeteries to whimsical woodland, these hidden gems lie off the beaten track. And to help you find 'em all? We're showing you London's best kept secrets to take your socially-distant stroll to the next level... but let's just keep this between us.
Recognised as part of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London, Abney Park is one of Hackney’s most stunning secret spaces. A woodland memorial park and local nature reserve in Stoke Newington, this place provides an escape from the city with a rich history to discover while taking your lockdown stroll. From its famous residents (including Salvation Army founder William Booth) to its rich biodiversity, it’s one unique hidden gem.
Fun fact: Islington’s Barnsbury Wood is London’s smallest nature reserve at just 0.35 hectares. Nestled in Barnsbury, this secret space used to be a vicarage garden until the 1840s. As nature began to grow around the ruins, it encouraged an abundance of wildlife including rare forms of ladybirds. So, if you fancy the idea of searching for long-tailed tits, lesser stag beetles, toads and sixteen-spot ladybirds, this is the walking spot for you.
Situated in Streatham Common, Rookery Gardens is a bloomin' beautiful escape from city living. As well as boasting some seriously impressive foliage, it's surrounded by woodland, grassland, and wild flower meadows that are perfect for picnics (and a little Instagram content). If you like what you see? The Streatham Common Cooperative have a crowdfunding scheme to help protect the gardens from vandalism and theft of its exotic florals.
Forget all about Highgate Wood, Queen's Wood is really where it’s at. Located just across the road from its slightly more famous sister, this secret patch of woodland is a rich blend of hilly pathways, oak, beech, mountain ash and cherry trees. Should you time your lockdown walk right, there’s a good chance you’ll stumble across native bluebells, wood anemone, native insects and the small animals that live off the land.
The second largest of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’, Nunhead Cemetery is a South London secret walking spot that’s got charm by the bucketload. As well as boasting a rich history with many notable residents, the cemetery is home to an abundance of wildlife and some pretty impressive overgrown grave sites. For those of you that like to add a little whimsicality to your lockdown, this will definitely provide a memorable experience.
Bow Creek Ecology Park & East India Dock Basin
Fancy the idea of spotting some rare wildlife while taking a weekend stroll? Located in the shadow of the City’s industrial skyline, Bow Creek Ecology Park and the East India Dock Basin are Canning Town’s prettiest green spaces. While the former is home to rare dragonflies from June to August, the latter acts as a wildlife sanctuary to kingfishers, black redstarts and nesting common terns, perfect for all you budding birdwatchers out there.
West Norwood Cemetery
Looking to travel a little further out of London? West Norwood Cemetery is a 40-acre rural cemetery with plenty of space to socially distance yourselves. The grounds of this secret walking spot are made up of monuments and gravestones, with catacombs, cremation plots and a columbarium. Head here and you’ll discover a fascinating mix of historical, architectural and ecological interests while enjoying a government-approved walk.
Looking for a little more lockdown inspo? Head on over to our dedicated guide page here.