While London provides many opportunities for children, when it comes to outdoor adventures, it can leave you wanting. The city sprawls in all directions, making it difficult to get out into nature. Fortunately, you can find forests both in London and the surrounding area, making it easy to go out and find places to hike with children.
Here are the top five forests to discover in London where children can have fun.
1. Epping Forest
You can find Epping Forest just to the north of London in the direction of Epping. Epping Forest is one of the most extensive forests in the London area and home to dozens of species of trees, many of the deciduous variety.
The forest covers more than 1,700 acres and has plenty of paths running through it as well as lakes and rivers with myriad bridges. There is a wealth of beautiful scenery that kids can enjoy as well as lots of paths for hiking around.
Address: Loughton IG10 4RW
2. Highgate Wood
Highgate Wood is located between Highgate and East Finchley. The wood provides some much-needed respite from the endless streets and road of north London.
Highgate Wood is an ancient natural woodland that has remained undisturbed and undeveloped for centuries. Children can get a sense of what it must have been like in the past to travel through the forest with all the sights, ancient trees, and unusual wildlife. Highgate Wood is a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience life at a slower pace.
3. Queen’s Wood
Queen’s Wood is believed to be a surviving segment of the ancient forest that used to cover the whole of Britain before the advent of agriculture. The woodland survives to this day, relatively untouched, despite the development of the rest of the city of London around Muswell Hill.
Kids will love Queen’s wood because of its natural paths and unique feel. It’s a genuine escape from the dullness of London and helps to bring a little bit of nature into their lives, without having to travel a long distance out of the city.
Address: London N10 3LD
4. Petts Wood and Hawkwood
Petts Wood is a little further out than some of the woods on this list, but it’s not too far from the centre of the city – Zone 4 if you were wondering.
This green area has a plethora of bridleways and footpaths which crisscross it. There are maps of where you are at regular intervals, so it’s not too hard to construct a hiking route for you and the kids. Just remember though, horses and mountain bikes can use the bridleways so you might want to stick to the footpaths where possible.
Address: Orpington, Chislehurst BR5 1NZ
5. Sydenham Hill Wood
Sydenham Hill Wood is the only woodland on this list south of the river Thames. You can find it in Southwark near to Dulwich Park.
Sydenham Hill Wood’s claim to fame is that it is the oldest surviving remnant of the ancient forest that covered Middlesex and Kent in the middle ages and earlier. The woodland offer kids all sorts of things to make their hiking adventures more exciting, including follies, ponds, gardens, an old railway, and a Victorian mansion. A great forest to discover in South London with your children.
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